Word of mouth more influential than branding campaign

Text100’s Digital Consumer Electronics index reveals that Malaysians still rely heavily on word of mouth and peer reviews when it comes to making decisions about consumer electronic products, especially in the early stages. The only difference is where and how they come by this information.

Product specifications, pricing and warranties are all among the most sought after information on smart devices and technologies, across all stages of the buying journey. Other significant topics include accessories available and customer reviews, with people more likely to share positive reviews than negative.

Anne Costello, Text100's regional director for APAC recognises that the information people want remains essentially the same with most consumers looking for price, facts and peer validation. With the onset of digital and the opening of even more channels of communication, consumers have truly taken over the decision making process, dictating what information they expect from brands as well as where, and when they want it.

“The age-old ways of getting this information, like word-of-mouth, have been dramatically remediated into a whole range of new channels, from social media sharing to blogs and self-declared experts both online and on the retail high street."

However, while two in every three Asia-Pacific shoppers have already done extensive research online and decided which brand of consumer electronics product they will buy before they approach a point-of-sale, the study shows that visits to retail outlets remain a trusted source of information from initial research to purchase and beyond, with their function changing depending on where the consumer was in their buying journey for all product types.

Even younger consumers gravitated towards physical stores despite a higher-than-average reliance on online sources: when buying smart devices and wearable technology, for example, 48 per cent of 18-24 year olds consulted retail outlets at each stage of the purchasing process on average, only slightly less than the 53 per cent who referenced social media and other forms of online sharing.

All this is understandably frustrating for brands who are used to a top-down talk-at-the-customer approach.

“Brands no longer get to decide which channels they play in. It is the consumer who is in the driver’s seat. Their journey inevitably goes down myriad channels on the information highway,” added Costello.

The conclusion?

Moving forwards, brands need to break down the prevailing silos of marketing and communications and weave together a compelling, unique story that completely integrates the paid, owned, earned and social platforms. Consumers want to know that what they’re buying will suit their needs and can be trusted.

As Costello states succintly, "Building product awareness is critical for today’s brands and they can only do so by mapping out an integrated, omni-channel communications strategy that is consistent, credible and relevant in the content that it offers. Clearly, hard facts and genuine recommendations ultimately carry the sale, not celebrities and paid endorsement.”

Other findings:

  • Malaysian consumers are less likely to give or post negative comments than positive ones
  • Malaysian consumers feel compelled to give more reasons for purchases than those anywhere else in Asia-Pacific
  • Singaporean and Hong Kong consumers are the most price-sensitive
  • 9 in 10 Chinese shoppers expect to buy smart devices in the next 12 months
  • In 40 per cent of Australian households, the husband or male partner assumes a major stake in deciding what to buy
  • Taiwanese consumers are as likely to buy second-hand goods as brand new ones, across all types of consumer electronics.

The full Text100 Digital Index: APAC Consumer Electronics Study  was conducted on more than 2,000 respondents in seven countries, specifically analysing three sub-sectors in the consumer electronics segment: smart devices and new technology; games, software and apps; and traditional electronics and home appliances.