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Forget social media, friends and family drive purchases: study

Facebook is providing a new option for its more skeptical advertisers.

[PARIS] Although many companies are pouring money into social media to market their goods, the recommendations of friends and family remain the top driver of purchasing decisions, a study released on Thursday found.

"Direct word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family are by far the most important source of information for customers thinking about buying a product or service," said a study by Boston Consulting Group.

In fact, it found such brand advocacy to be about four or five times more influential than traditional and social media in making purchases.

The study was based on a survey of 227,000 consumers across the world, including the United States, France, Germany and Japan.

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It showed half of consumers said they most often consult friends and family before making purchases. Company websites followed at 39 per cent, and blogs at 35 per cent. Television came in alongside newspapers and magazines at 13 per cent, and social media 10 per cent.

With recommendations from family and friends also a considerable motor for sales growth, it found customer loyalty programmes and customer experience were important.

The report also found that satisfied customers spent more.

Boston Consulting Group is a global management consulting firm that advises companies in a range of areas, including marketing and sales.