Smart marketers have long understood that word-of-mouth recommendations from consumers—“brand advocacy”—have greater impact on sales than any other source of information. And it’s not just that positive buzz moves the financial needle forward. Negative word of mouth from brand critics can push results in the opposite direction.
Despite the relevance of brand advocacy, companies have struggled to measure it in the marketplace, demonstrate its top-line impact, and develop tactics that improve word of mouth. To address these gaps, The Boston Consulting Group has created the Brand Advocacy Index (BAI), a strategic metric that measures advocacy with much greater precision than existing approaches. Extending beyond those measures, BAI displays a strong correlation with top-line growth and helps identify concrete actions for improving advocacy.
In fact, our research shows definitively that brands with high levels of advocacy significantly outperform heavily criticized companies. In the sample of brands studied, we found the average difference between the top-line growth of the highest- and lowest-scoring brands was 27 percentage points.
In addition to using advocacy to drive measurable growth, brands can also pinpoint the identities and motivations of often overlooked advocates, uncovering the relative influence of both customers and noncustomers in driving recommendations, as well as the rational and emotional factors that motivate both groups to recommend a brand. Companies can determine who recommends a brand and who does not, helping them identify the most and least successful tactics for improving advocacy.
Although the level of advocacy varies widely by industry and country, we have not found a single category in which advocacy is irrelevant. In this report, we open a window onto the precise mechanisms for measuring and managing brand advocacy. By harnessing these insights, any brand can fuel growth.