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more tap or more talk? nielsen: consumers are playing both sides of the field

6 minute read | January 2020

Jakarta, 24 January 2020 – Nielsen’s Real Life vs. Digital Life report shows that although consumers are actively engaging online, word of mouth or real life conversation have a stronger influence on consumers’ minds and, therefore, their purchasing decisions. More than half of respondents (58%) confirm that word of mouth influences them highly (vs 46% social media) and 71% indicate real life conversations make an impact on their purchasing decisions. “Word of mouth has always been and remains one of the greatest enablers for marketers in the battles for consumers hearts and minds, and it is crucial to understand the way you can leverage its opportunities for your brand”, says Sue Temple, Vice-President, Global Consumer Insights, Nielsen. “It is easier for us to trust people we know — friends, spouses, colleagues — than unknown personalities on social media so to unlock this opportunity for business more efforts need to be put into a positive experience, which will encourage your customers to share within their personal network,” she concludes

The more they use, the less they trust

Global consumers tend to go digital and use social networks more often, nevertheless when it comes to trust, they still rely on more traditional channels – newspapers with a Trust to usage index[1] of 240, outdoor/billboards 178 points and magazines 162, contrary to Internet/digital media with a much lower index of 78. Millennials happen to be the most loyal audience for all channels, with newspapers being the most trusted channel (index of 356) for them, on the flipside, Baby Boomers are skeptical towards all channels but still have a preference for newspapers (189), and the Silent generation has a clear preference to newspapers (index of 241).

 “With social networks rising in popularity over the last decade it is no surprise their use, spread among all generations, is leaking into consumer’s everyday life. Nevertheless, the quality of digital communication hasn’t developed at the same pace, and having been burned too many times, when dealing with fake news, frauds and data breaches consumers respond with less trust to information shared via new media,” confirms Sue Temple.

A regional focus showcases that Australia, Germany and Korea, are ahead of the curve with word of mouth dominance over social media, showing it with the strongest “influence level” on consumers minds and purchasing decisions. Furthermore, manufacturers and retailers should be mindful when allocating their marketing and advertising budgets between” Tap” and “Talk” across markets as the most trusted media differs by country with a skew towards digital media in Mexico and Turkey (71% and 61% respectively) versus a more even split between TV and digital media in Australia and Germany (34%-35% for each media in both countries).

The reasons to go digital varies across the regions, but on the top of the list is when consumers seek recommendations (46%), find it interesting to read something online (42%) or wish to share the experience (38%). Most consumers express their personal opinions in real life because they are sharing the experience (45%), remarking on exclusive deals and offers (42%), and would like to recommend good products (42%). “With that being said, consumers are taking the role of observer when online: they are on the lookout for information about the product, and a relevant and interesting content may inspire consumers to take the dialogue offline. It’s crucial to understand the link between the two —

[1] Trust to usage index is the ratio of consumers who use the media most often to trusting the media most often

digital and real life — and what triggers having a broader discussion about the brand. Clearly, real life conversations remain consumers’ comfort zone; a way to share true emotions with their community. When impressed by the experience, they can easily become your brand ambassadors,” adds Temple.

At the same time, more consumers prefer to talk about brands in person rather than posting online; and countries with the dominance of an older generation — Australia, Germany and South Korea — are at the head of the trend, contrary to Indonesia and Thailand, where consumers prefer to post more about their experience with the brand. “These regional differences have a direct impact on the efficiency of marketing campaigns. Knowing who are the most probable influencers will help in sharpening brands’ social media campaigns.” concludes Temple.

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About Nielsen Survey

The Nielsen Digital vs. Real Life survey was conducted among more than 3,300 consumers across 11 countries – Australia, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand and Turkey. The fieldwork was conducted from September 23rd to October 4th, 2019. The sample is sourced from external sample providers. The sample includes Internet users who agreed to participate in this survey and has quotas based on age and sex for each country. It is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers by country. Data is weighted at the country level using the total online population. Quotas are reviewed at a country level by Data Science. This Nielsen survey is based on the behaviour of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% Internet penetration or 10 million online population for survey inclusion. At a country level where the sample is 300, the margin of error is ± 5.7% at 95% confidence interval, meaning the movement needs to be bigger than this to be noteworthy.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global measurement and data analytics company that provides the most complete and trusted view available of consumers and markets worldwide. Nielsen is divided into two business units. Nielsen Global Media, the arbiter of truth for media markets, provides media and advertising industries with unbiased and reliable metrics that create a shared understanding of the industry required for markets to function. Nielsen Global Connect provides consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers with accurate, actionable information and insights and a complete picture of the complex and changing marketplace that companies need to innovate and grow. Our approach marries proprietary Nielsen data with other data sources to help clients around the world understand what’s happening now, what’s happening next, and how to best act on this knowledge. An S&P 500 company, Nielsen has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit


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