The PR industry should therefore be looking at brand advocacy as a way to drive brand sales.
The European Advocacy Study was conducted by Weber Shandwick and Paul Marsden, a researcher in brand advocacy. It questioned 4,000 participants in four European countries.
Their report looks at how effective brand advocacy, also known as word of mouth, is at stimulating brand sales compared with advertising.
According to the study, UK consumers are five times more likely to buy a brand if a friend or colleague has recommended it. Spain had the highest result, with consumers being 8.9 times more likely to buy through brand advocacy than above-the-line marketing.
Weber Shandwick EVP European brand programmes Richard Moss said: ‘The results show an enormous opportunity for PROs. Many brands would likely benefit from allocating a proportion of their current advertising spends to initiatives directly designed to stimulate advocacy.'
Auto and PC brands were the most likely to be bought as a result of word of mouth marketing across Europe.
The survey found that on average one in three brand users were acquired through brand advocacy and also that 50 per cent of advocacy results in a sale.
The research also revealed that a brand's ability to ‘surprise and delight' its customers delivered the most positive and unexpected brand experiences. This was identified as the most powerful activator for brand experiences.