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GETTING advice from family and friends about a new car – whether complimentary or negative – is by far Australia’s most popular source of information about a vehicle purchase.

Research by Roy Morgan finds that more than 91 per cent of Australians aged 14 years and more have either sought advice from – or been the source of advice for their friends or family – with the most talked about topic being cars.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said that the most discussed topic amongst Australians aged 14 years and older is “buying a car” and almost two thirds (65 per cent) of the population either plays the role of a trusted adviser (those whose advice has been sought by friends or family), an info seeker (those who go to friends/family for advice) or both.

The survey reported that eating out at restaurants is the second most discussed topic (62 per cent) and planning a holiday or trip came in third with 59 per cent.

Though a positive opinion could auger well for a car sale, a negative opinion could not only end a sale, but could remain for years with the people who originally sought the advice.

“Marketers have always understood the importance and value of ‘word of mouth’ to promote their products,” Ms Levine said.

“This new research identifies the key drivers of this important form of communication.”

Roy Morgan revealed how much each topic is being discussed, and whose opinions are sought as either ‘trusted advisers’ and who are the ‘information seekers’.

“In some areas, like eating out at a restaurant, there is a large percentage of people who regards themselves as both,” Ms Levine said.

“Surprisingly, this new research shows ‘word of mouth’ is as important today even though information of all kinds is increasingly easy to get online.

“Even with all kinds of elaborate rating systems to score the value, accuracy, helpfulness, likeability or whatever, people still value advice from a ‘trusted advisor’ and people, it seems, still love to give advice.”

Less than half of the population seek or give advice on categories relating to mobile phones (47 per cent), home entertainment or electronics (43 per cent), signing up to an internet provider (40 per cent), finance and investments (39 per cent), home renovations (39 per cent), and health and nutrition (37 per cent).

Ms Levine said that some people still love to give advice.

“Trusted advisers, those providing advice to friends and family are an important conduit to the rest of the population,” she said.

“Trusted advisers are not always first to try new products. Indeed, in some areas, trusted advisers are more likely the voice of caution, for example, buying a car where trusted advisers tend to be older males.

“In other situations, they are the voice of optimism. When it comes to giving advice, trusted advisers are still more likely to be male for computers or computer equipment, computer/console games, home entertainment or electronics, cars, and finance and investments to name a few.

“Women are still more likely to be trusted advisers for information on skincare and beauty products, fashion, decorating your home and most grocery and retail products.

“From a sociological perspective it is interesting that when it comes to seeking advice, men are below average across all categories.

“Women are far more open to receive information especially when it relates to information from other women on fashion and beauty products.”

By Neil Dowling