NEW YORK: More consumers are becoming advocates or critics ("badvocates") quicker, found a global Weber Shandwick study.
Since WS' survey, "New Wave of Advocacy," finds that consumers are forming opinions about brands and companies faster, Leslie Gaines-Ross, WS chief reputation strategist, said PR pros must hasten their ability to address potential opportunities and crises.
"The advocacy research has turned [philosophies about] decision-making and building awareness somewhat upside down," she said. "Since a large group of advocates are making decisions quickly, we must engage them very early."
According to the survey, 45% of global consumers are identified as advocates, which means they take action on issues, such as "making purchase recommendations, sending a letter to a company or elected official, or organizing a protest or boycott."
Additionally, 63% of global consumers say they are making judgments quicker as to whether to support or reject issues or companies than they did two or three years ago. WS attributed this to several factors, including a more informed populace, individuals with stronger voices, and easier access to information.
"Advocates are everywhere," said Gaines-Ross. "Influence used to be that you would [reach out to] analysts, community leaders, and influential journalists. Now you have to find out where these advocates are lurking."
While advocates are quick to form opinions of companies, "badvocates" or critics, may do so even quicker. The survey found 76% of badvocates express displeasure with a company or issue within one week.
"With badvocates, you should hear what they have to say," Gaines-Ross said. "Badvocates are extremely passionate advocates on issues. Having that dialogue and providing information [helps]."
WS and KRC Research compiled the research based on 583 responses from adults 21 years and older, in nine countries, via an online survey.