70% of consumers trust online opinions of unknown users.

The numbers don’t lie: shoppers online trust the opinions of other shoppers like them.

Second only to recommendations from people known, opinions posted online are the most valued information source by consumers. According to the new Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey, 70% of people trust recommendations from unknown users online, up 9% from 2007.

Jonathan Carson, president of online, international at Nielsen Co., attributes this increasing trust in online recommendations from strangers to the “explosion” of available user-generated content in the past few years. “… Consumers’ reliance on word of mouth in the decision-making process, either from people they know or online consumers they don’t, has increased significantly,” Carson says.

And trust in online recommendations is even higher in some segments. A recent study from BabyCenter, LLC found that 73% of mothers online trust the information they find on products and brands through online communities focused on their interests.

Trust in traditional forms of advertising increased as well, the study shows. Trust in brand websites increased 10% over 2007 to 70%. Carson asserts that this increase in trust could be due to the swell in available consumer-generated media (CGM) as well. “… It’s possible that the CGM revolution has forced advertisers to use a more realistic form of messaging that is grounded in the experience of consumers rather than the lofty ideals of the advertisers,” he says.

This comes as no surprise to Bazaarvoice; our clients know that the mere presence of user-generated content on brand sites builds trust in the brand and drives sales, even for products without reviews.

As the presence of online UGC continually grows, online consumers will become increasingly dependent on feedback from shoppers like them in their purchase decisions. Are you giving your customers the information they need to make a purchase?

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