| Oct 8, 2019

Brand Advocates: The Buyers Behind the Buzz (Part 1)

Today more than ever, opinionated shoppers have ample opportunities to share their thoughts on the products they use and love. From the water cooler to Instagram to the dinner table, branded buzz is all around us, and consumer perception is key in establishing and maintaining a brand image. In today’s connected and transparent marketplace, brands should be looking for ways to tap into the passion of highly engaged brand advocates to help market, promote, and improve their products.

Numerator defines brand advocates as individuals who not only buy the brands they love, but also actively promote products in their communities– both online and offline. These shoppers help brands market and promote their products organically to increase visibility, trust, and eventually revenue. 

We conducted an analysis to identify brand advocates and to better understand their shopping behaviors, advocating behaviors, and attitudes. What are some characteristics of the typical brand advocate? Which categories are consumers most likely to advocate for? Are social media influencers really the future of brand advocacy? Read on to find out. 

Brand Advocates Share More Opinions, Spend More Money

Brand advocates are obviously more willing to share their recommendations and opinions on their favorite brands and products than the average shopper, but they also back up their recommendations and opinions with higher spending. 

On average, a brand advocate’s total annual buy rate is 1.3x higher than the average U.S. household. A brand advocate is also 1.2x more likely than the average shopper to trust brand advertisements. Not only does this fly in the face of stereotypes about distrust of ads, but it also suggests that brands who build visibility through advertising are more likely to benefit from brand advocacy.

Which categories are brand advocates recommending?

Seven in 10 shoppers identify as brand advocates for grocery categories, according to our survey data. More than half recommend restaurants (56%) and health and beauty products (51%). Other highly recommended sectors include household, apparel, electronics, and pet.


Our data also showed that sectors that are present daily or regularly in a person’s life tend to benefit from brand advocacy most frequently. In other words, if you see it, use it, and benefit from it every day, you’re more likely to spread the word.

Brand Advocacy Is Not Just a Function of Social Media

It’s easy to chalk up brand advocacy to the growth of social media. Use a product, post a picture on Instagram, share a positive review on Facebook or Twitter– voilà, you’re a social media influencer! But is this really the future of brand advocacy? When our survey participants were asked how they usually communicate advice or recommendations of brands or products, they indicated a preference for in-person sharing over social media in every category.

In fact, 67% of grocery brand advocates share in-person recommendations compared to just 30% who usually use social media. While some categories like apparel, baby, and entertainment begin to close the gap between in-person and social media, across the board, we still see an overall preference for in-person advocacy.


What’s Being Advocated?

Brand advocates are most likely to share recommendations with those closest to them. Overwhelmingly, this means family (92%) and friends (88%). Nearly half (48%) also share with coworkers, while about one-fifth (19%) share with social media followers. 

When asked what information they typically share, brand advocates said they tell people why they like the brand or product, where they found it, and often give the specific product or brand name.


In terms of motivations, brand advocates generally don’t make recommendations because they want or expect to get something out of it. According to our data, their motives tend to be altruistic. For example, 82% said they like to share good finds with family and friends so others can benefit as well. 45% said they like to see good brands and products do well, and 38% of brand advocates said people tend to ask them for advice and recommendations. On the flip side, only 9% of respondents said they get an incentive from the brand, and 8% said they’re trying to build a social media following by promoting brands and products.

When asked how they choose to recommend specific brands or products, 66% of advocates said they only recommend brands they love and use themselves. 46% only recommend products they believe can benefit others. 34% just do it when they feel like it, while 21% only recommend brands that align with their values.

There’s a lot more to learn about brand advocates, including who they are demographically and psychographically, and how brands can engage with and retain them. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series where we’ll dig into these topics and more.