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Endorsements Don't Earn Trust For Marketers

Celebrity and athletic endorsements carry less weight than marketers may think, according to a global study from The Boston Consulting Group. 

The study of 10,000 consumers finds that a majority of respondents worldwide trust celebrity endorsements less than every other method of brand promotion, including digital and traditional advertising and company-sponsored social media.

Of those polled from developed countries, Americans seemed most trusting of such endorsements (15% said they trusted them) while the Germans seemed least trusting (6% said they trusted them). Only Brazil and China surpassed the U.S. on this front, with 17% and 21% of respondents, respectively. 

Consumers across all countries tended to most trust what their family and friends had to say offline about a brand followed by what they said online. The fifth most-trusted source of information is Google and other search engines, preceded by product reviews and expert opinions. 

The more customers trust brands the more information they're likely to give up to them. That then enables companies to unlock their potential to harness Big Data, according to the report, "The Trust Advantage: How to Win with Big Data."

"Unlocking value from big data has generated a great deal of buzz in the C-suite," says John Rose, a senior partner and the report's lead author, in a release. "But often left out of the discussion is how to gain access to the information-much of it sensitive personal data about real people-in the first place."

Brands that show their customers that they can be trusted can increase the amount of consumer information they can access for Big Data uses by at least five to 10 times. 

However, consumers consider some types of information more private than others. Financial and health data, for example, rank higher on the privacy scale than their brand preferences, product reviews and age and gender.

Consumers are more than twice as concerned about the practices of financial institutions, social-media and search-engines companies, and government entities than they are about those of branded manufacturers, carmakers, airlines and hotels, cable providers, and retailers that offer loyalty cards.  

Contrary to popular belief, Millennials care nearly as much about data privacy as their elders. That means, in order to gain a competitive advantage, companies must steward data and engage Millennial consumers just as carefully as they would any other age group. 

Surprisingly, on the privacy meter "exact location" ranks behind "dialed phone number history" in terms of what users find most private. 

Consumers are willing to allow the use of personal data for multiple purposes if, and only if, organizations are careful stewards of this information. An average of only 7% of global consumers reported that they are comfortable with information about them being used outside of the original purpose for which it was gathered. 

This increases to 54% if they trust that other uses will not embarrass them, damage their interests, or otherwise harm them.

"Responsible data stewardship confers critical performance and brand advantages, as well as reduces risk," says Christine Barton, a partner and report coauthor, in a release. "Brands gain because they become perceived as being more transparent and more socially responsible, values that are increasingly important to global consumers and particularly the Millennial generation."

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