Colleges Perfect for Word of Mouth

Colleges Perfect for Word of Mouth

AUGUST 23, 2007

Young adults seek friends’ recommendations.

College
students, like many young people, are strongly influenced by word of
mouth and look to their friends for advice. With the rise of social
networking, blogs and viral video, this group has many new
user-generated sources for information about products and services.

According to Youth Trends,
word of mouth is the top way students like to learn about new products
and services. TV advertising ranked second, although it was a more
powerful driver for females than males.

"The fact that students favor word of mouth, combined with
their use of social networking, indicates that they are a strong
audience for online word-of-mouth marketing efforts," said eMarketer
senior analyst Debra Aho Williamson.

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Word of mouth also figured strongly in the results of William Blair‘s
"Millennials Survey" with 85% of college students saying they primarily
learned about new products this way. The next most frequently cited
source was in-store marketing, with close to 70% choosing this method.
William Blair conducted the study between September and November of
2006.

Both Facebook and MySpace are moving in the direction of online word of mouth. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told Time
magazine that "people are trying to communicate in a certain way on
Facebook—they share information with their friends, they learn about
what their friends are doing—so there’s really a whole new opportunity
for a new type of advertising model within that."

In a KetchumAnnenberg Center
study of the types of media US adults had used to gain information in
the past month, word of mouth was far more common among young adults.
Half of those age 18 to 24 and 24 to 34 had received advice from family
or friends, compared with 39% of those 55 to 64 and 29.6% of those 65
and older, according to the study.

In fact, young people 18 to 24 were nearly as likely to get
information from friends and family as they were to get it from local
newspapers or local TV news. Among people 35 to 44, by comparison,
newspapers and TV news were much more likely than word of mouth to be
used for information.

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