Well according the “Trust Barometer”* for 2008 from Edelman, the world's largest independent PR firm, consumers feel the most credible source for information about a company is a....
.... “person like themselves.”
*Is this a box with two doors, out of which comes either a little man with a stick or a lady holding a carrot?
Theoretically we should then also should assume that the trust for a company carries over into product/brand trust and hopefully sales.
Of particular interest over the last 2 years is:
In 2007 businesses were more trusted than Governments, with the UK population having the lowest trust in Government (and in media companies).
In 2008 young opinion elites have higher general levels of trust than their older counterparts. They also apparently rely on multiple sources of information to form opinions of companies.
According to Jeff Grau, Senior Analyst at eMarketer:
“While blogs and customer ratings and reviews have long been a familiar
part of the Internet commercial landscape, over the past two years social
shopping sites have emerged as another way for customers to share product
experiences and opinions.”
“The sites typically provide tools for users to download photos of
interesting products found on retail Web sites to their profile page or blog.
Users then share and discuss their findings with the community,”
His article also goes into more detail about the social aspects of shopping, particularly the users need to feel part of a community and their recognition from peers.