Zuberance Study: Three Surprising Findings About Brand Advocates


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In the social media era, power has shifted from advertising's Mad Men to millions of trusted Brand Advocates. Their recommendations drive trillions of dollars of purchase decisions for everything from cars to computers, fish tacos to fitness memberships, software to smart phones. Amplified by social media, Brand Advocates' recommendations collectively reach millions of people on social networks, shopping sites, blogs, online communities, and elsewhere online.

A new study sponsored by Zuberance has revealed three surprising findings about Brand Advocates. To download the full report go to zuberance.com/brandadvocateresearch.

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Zuberance Study: Three Surprising Findings About Brand Advocates

  1. 1. Three Surprising Findings AboutBrand AdvocatesZuberance Study, 2012
  2. 2. Brand Advocates are: Highly active Have larger social networks Recommend more types ofproducts than previouslythought
  3. 3. Brand Advocates – consumers and business buyers whofrequently recommend brands and products without beingpaid – are highly trusted and influential. Theirrecommendations drive trillions of dollars of purchasedecisions for everything from cars to computers, fish tacos tofitness memberships, software to smart phones.
  4. 4. Now, a new study sponsored by Zuberance has revealedthree surprising findings about Brand Advocates. TheZuberance study found that: 1 Brand Advocates are even more active than previously thought. Brand Advocates recommend more brands, products, and services more often and in more categories than earlier data suggested. 2 Brand Advocates have even larger social networks than previous studies showed. Brand Advocates have hundreds of friends and colleagues in their social networks. Their recommendations reach many more people than earlier estimates suggested. 3 Brand Advocates’ recommendations aren’t limited to consumer brands and products. Contrary to popular belief, Brand Advocates recommend both consumer and business products and services. Advocates recommend products that most people consider mundane, like anti-virus software and file transfer services.
  5. 5. “Power Advocates”The Zuberance study also has suggested that there is a segment of Brand Advocateswho are extremely active. These “Power Advocates,” which comprise about 15% ofBrand Advocates: • Recommend dozens of brands, products, and services • Recommend several times each week • Have more than 500 people in their social networks
  6. 6. 1. Brand Advocates are even more active thanpreviously thought.A global Word of Mouth study by Gfk Roper in 2006 found that the average consumer recommends3.7 brands. The Zuberance study found that, on average, Brand Advocates recommend ninebrands, products, and services per year. The study also found that 16% of Brand Advocatesrecommend 10 or more brands, products, and services and 16% recommend 15 or more. NUMBER OF BRANDS, PRODUCTS, AND SERVICES RECOMMENDED IN 1 YEAR40%35% 38% 32% recommend 1030% or more brands25% 30%20%15% 16% recommend 16% 16%10% more than 15 brands 5% 0% 1-4 5-9 10 - 15 More than 15
  7. 7. 1. Brand Advocates are even more active thanpreviously thought.On average, Brand Advocates make 26 recommendations per year. But 18% of Brand Advocatesrecommend about once a week and 12% recommend several times per week. FREQUENCY OF RECOMMENDATION40% 30% recommend35% 38% once weekly or30% 33% more25%20%15% 18% On average10% Advocates make 26 12% 5% recommendations per year 0% A couple times a About once a About once a Several times a year month week week
  8. 8. 1. Brand Advocates are even more active thanpreviously thought. MOST RECOMMENDED CATEGORIES Travel & Automotive Beauty & Hospitality CosmeticsThe Zuberance study also found that 7% 4% 4%Brand Advocates make recommendations Entertainment &across multiple industries. While Leisure 14%technology (25%) is the most popularcategory, Advocates makerecommendations in ten industries Fashion & Technologyincluding restaurants and 25% Appareldining, entertainment and leisure, and 4%household items plus others. Food, Beverage & Tobacco Restaurants & 10% Dining 15% Health & Fitness 7% Household Items 10%
  9. 9. 2. Brand Advocates have very largesocial networks.Other studies have indicated that Brand Advocates have larger social networks than non-Advocates. Forexample, a 2006 Comscore-Yahoo study, conducted before the rise of Facebook and social networking, found thatBrand Advocates have 82 people in their social networks. The Zuberance study shows that on average, BrandAdvocates have between 200 and 450 people in their social networks. And online Brand Advocates – consumerswho recommend their favorite brands and products using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, plus shopping and reviewsites like Amazon.com, TripAdvisor, and Yelp – have between 300 to 600 contacts in their social networks. ESTIMATED NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN ADVOCATES’ SOCIAL NETWORKS (IN HUNDREDS) 18% have 500+ in social networks Online Advocates have 300-600 in their networks
  10. 10. 3. Brand Advocates recommend bothconsumer and business products.Many people mistakenly believe that Brand Advocates’ recommendations are limited to consumerproducts, like iPhones, energy drinks, and restaurants. In fact, the majority of Brand Advocates (67%)recommend both business and consumer products and services. TYPES OF RECOMMENDATIONS 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% Both business and consumer products and services 67% Consumer products and services (e.g., cars, electronics, movies, hotels, restaurants) 31% Business products and services (e.g., business computers, business software, business consulting 1% services)
  11. 11. Other Intriguing FindingsThe Zuberance study also revealed other intriguing findingsabout Brand Advocates.
  12. 12. Brand Advocates recommend because of goodexperiences and a desire to help others, not becausethey get freebies.Half of the respondents (50%) said the primary reason they recommend is they’ve had a goodexperience with a product or service. Over one-third (37%) of Brand Advocates recommend becausethey want to help others. Only 1% of respondents said they recommend because they get incentivesand rewards. This finding confirms previous research showing that incentives like freeproducts, discounts, cash, or points do not motivate authentic Brand Advocates. PRIMARY REASON FOR RECOMMENDING 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% I had good experiences with a product or service 50% I want to help others (e.g., I want my friends to make smarter purchase decisions) 37%I recommend brands, products, and services but only when I am asked my opinion 8% I want others to know Im knowledgeable about certain brands and types of products 3% I get incentives and rewards (e.g., free products, discounts, cash, points) for recommending 1%
  13. 13. Brand Advocates are persuasive salespeopleOver 80% of Brand Advocates believe their recommendations get their friends and peers to takeaction. Sixty-one percent of Advocates said their recommendations caused friends and peers toconsider buying the recommended brand, product, or service and 22% said their contacts buy therecommended item. WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE RECOMMENDATION 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% They consider buying the brand, product or service I 61% recommendThey buy the brand, product or service I recommend 22% I dont know 17% They dont do anything with the recommendation 0%
  14. 14. Brand Advocates recommend using online andoffline channelsBrand Advocates who recommend online and offline use both methods fairly evenly. Theyrecommend brands and products online on Facebook, Amazon.com, TripAdvisor, and Yelp plusoffline (over coffee, dinner, while on the phone, etc.). RECOMMENDATION METHODS USED BY CONSUMERS: OFFLINE & ONLINE 1,000 900 22 122 800 47 700 Online: Third-party 600 Shopping/Review Sites 343 500 Online: Social Networks 400 774 143 300 Offline (e.g., meeting, phone) 200 376 143 100 143 0 1 2 3
  15. 15. Brand Advocates recommend using online andoffline channels ONLINE TOOLS USED FOR RECOMMENDATIONSE-mail and Facebook are the mostpopular online tools forAdvocates, the study showed. Facebook 35% LinkedIn 1% Email Twitter 57% 1% eCommerce & Third-party sites Blog 5% 1%
  16. 16. Implications for MarketersHere are the implications for marketers: • Marketers need to identify and engage Advocates now. It’s important that marketers find out who their Advocates are by name and email address and create an ongoing dialogue with them. This is not a one-time exercise and should not be limited to quarterly or annual customer satisfaction studies. It should be done on an ongoing basis using online surveys, social media listening tools, and other ways of identifying Advocates. • Marketers should activate their Advocates immediately. In the social media age, power has shifted from advertising’s Mad Men to trusted Brand Advocates. Getting Advocates to recommend a company and its products or services is the most important marketing mission. • Marketers need to place special emphasis on Power Advocates. Marketers should seek to identify and mobilize as many Advocates as possible. Special efforts should be made to engage and energize Power Advocates because they are a company’s or brand’s most influential Advocates.Lastly, the Zuberance study again puts to rest the myth that advocacy is a consumerphenomenon only. As the study showed, people recommend both consumer and businessproducts. Therefore B2C and B2B marketers need to find and activate their Advocates.
  17. 17. How the Study Was ConductedA total of 1,445 consumers participated in the Zuberance study, which was conductedJanuary 4-17, 2012 by Loyalty Wins, a consultancy providing strategic guidance on developingglobal customer experience programs. Participants for the study, which represented a cross-section of US adults, were provided by Media Baby, an online marketing solutions companywith a 100% permission-based database of more than 65 million records.About ZuberanceZuberance is the leading social media marketing company focused on Brand Advocates. Zuberance’saward-winning social media marketing solution enables companies to systematically identify and energizetheir highly-satisfied customers (AKA “Brand Advocates”), driving measurable increases in referralleads, recommendations, and revenues. For more information, visit www.zuberance.com or followZuberance on Twitter @zuberance.
  18. 18. Three Surprising Findings About BrandAdvocatesTo download the full report go to: zuberance.com/brandadvocateresearchwww.zuberance.comTwitter: @ZuberanceFacebook: facebook.com/zuberanceZuberRants Blog: blog.zuberance.comContact sales: info@zuberance.com