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What advertising do consumers really trust?

It's not a bad idea once in a while to step back from what is becoming an increasingly complex world of marketing communications and refresh ourselves on just what sort of advertising consumers trust.
Because we quite often tend to forget that consumer behaviour is not always logical behaviour. It is more often than not motivated by perception rather than reality and hearsay rather than facts.

Bizarre fact of life

It is an absolute fact of life that almost all consumers will almost always prefer to listen to friends, family or people they know with regard to buying or not buying a product or service even if those friends, family and people they know have very little knowledge or experience.

Less than half the number of those same consumers will trust ads for those products in traditional above-the-line media while even less - only a third - trust ads on social, networks and display ads on mobile devices.


Quite extraordinary when you realise that in actual fact ads are mostly accurate and true simply because if they are not the ad watchdogs will come down on them like a ton of bricks.

What is even more illogical is that more consumers trust editorial and advertorials in magazines and newspapers than conventional advertising. Which really doesn't make sense because there are no watchdogs keeping an eye on editorial product claims with the result that there is the propensity for a lot of bullshit to baffle a lot of brains.

I was reminded of these somewhat bizarre behavioural traits among consumers when I spotted a link on Twitter drawing attention to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey for the third quarter of last year.

The most important lessons marketers can take from this is not to fall on their swords and stop mass-media advertising, but rather to be forever conscious of the fact that consumers trust those they know.

I believe that that this doesn't necessarily only apply to human beings but also to brands.

If consumers are brand loyal they will be far more likely to trust a recommendation from that brand in whatever shape or form the advertising appears.

It is for this very reason that on-the-ball marketers today work on the basis that trust, honesty and integrity are not actually enough to convince consumers with advertising today, they need to entrench brand loyalty - the ultimate marketing prize.

Brand loyalty is the component that's makes advertising work. Just ask the folks at Apple.

About Chris Moerdyk: @chrismoerdyk

Apart from being a corporate marketing analyst, advisor and media commentator, Chris Moerdyk is a former chairman of Bizcommunity. He was head of strategic planning and public affairs for BMW South Africa and spent 16 years in the creative and client service departments of ad agencies, ending up as resident director of Lindsay Smithers-FCB in KwaZulu-Natal. Email Chris on and follow him on Twitter at @chrismoerdyk.
Erik Du Plessis
Hi Chris,Many years ago I cam across a study in the USA that tracked people's attitude to advertising.( I.e.questions like being trustworthy, etc.) done in the USA over time.I did a snapshot of the situation in SA, and it was better than that of the USA - at the time.I suggested that someone like the ARF should be doing such a regular tracking so that they can be warned of negative trends (which I suspect there are) and counter these.I actually do not believe that a negative attitude to the concept 'advertising'when used in a general sense has a negative effect on advertising effectiveness. But, it does impact on perceptions of the industry, how serious people in this industry is taken by other professionals, recruitment into the industry, etc.
Posted on 21 Sep 2012 16:00
Derick Poremba-Brumer
I agree with your article. I was in a severe accident in my matric year (1986) that left me in a coma for 7-months. I’ve gone on to achieve 4 full University qualifications from established institutions. The fact that a Head Injury is given a Masters Status corroborates what you said in the article 100% (which means that the fact that if a person is HEAD INJURED eclipses all other positive traits that the person may displaySurely this 'disables' all people as it makes them too blind to see what a person can achieve in the direst of circumstances. Furthermore, I find it incomprehensible that real-life stories (like mine) are not used because the ad watchdogs won't just allow any story to appear - however inspirational they are!
Posted on 21 Sep 2012 17:36
Joan Stewart
I agree Chris, Also add that it would be far more beneficial if stats on South African/African figures were reflected more often. Global stats are an rough indicator, nowhere near actual.Each country depending on education levels react differently, with mobile marketing becoming a huge step Asia are the leaders to look to especially Japan for indicators.
Posted on 25 Sep 2012 12:37