Trusting youth

January 22, 2008

 So, did you manage to avoid reading about the Edelman trust barometer this morning? Avoided the FT, blogs, Twitter and Qik videos? I certainly didn’t, and it’s much to their credit that they covered an interesting topic, in detail, via a number of channels, new and old.

Taken from David Brain’s summary of the findings, here’s the points which especially grabbed my attention:

A youthful optimism in France, Germany, Russia and UK:

  • Europe is traditionally a skeptical audience when it comes to business earning trust, yet the rising 25-34 influencer generation in France and UK show a youthful optimism in trust in business compared to their more jaundiced 35-64 year old counterparts.
    • In France, Germany and the UK, trust in business is significantly higher among the younger cohort (47% vs. 36%)
    • In France the business trust gap is a full 22 points (25-34 52%, 35-64 30%)
      • Younger French also are more trusting of NGOs.

Younger elites embracing social media and web-based communications:

  • Younger opinion elites France, Germany and the UK show higher usage of company’s own website and online message boards.
  • They engage in significantly more online activities, including sending instant messaging, reading blogs, playing online games, posting pictures/videos, and participating in live discussions.
  • They are more likely than their older counterparts to share opinions and experiences of companies on the web – with respect to both trusted and distrusted companies.

What attracted me here as the causality between greater trust in business and greater engagement with brand’s online presence amongst younger people. Speaking personally, I expect to ‘understand’ a company, and my immediate point of reference is both online word of mouth perceptions and the company site itself. But what’s the link here? Do younger people make more effort to get to know brands, and hence have greater trust? Or have companies looking to speak to younger consumers made the effort to move into the online space so actively engaged with by this demographic, and so are simply taking their message to consumers better?

Or, finally, is it just that we’re naive?

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