TalkTrack study proves the power of word of mouth in brand promotion

London : Consumers have ten conversations a day on average in which they mention brands, 62% of which are ‘mostly positive’, according to TalkTrack – the first ever comprehensive word of mouth study in the UK – funded by Starcom MediaVest Group, News International and ESPN.

TalkTrack, which tracked more than 14,000 conversations by 2,500 people in May 2010, now delivers a clear understanding of the nature of brand conversations, detailing who, what, when and where they are taking place, allowing brands exclusive access to valuable information across many sectors.

It found that, despite conventional wisdom, 81% of brand conversations actually take place face-to-face, with an additional 11% on the phone, and just 7% online. However the study still shows the internet to be crucial in the mix of media driving word of mouth brand advocacy. In fact, the study found that 47% of brand conversations mention media of some kind, with the internet leading the way (15%), followed by TV (13%), newspapers (5%), magazines (4%), radio (2%) and posters (1.5%). It also shows that where online is mentioned, consumers are more likely to seek further brand information – 30% are ‘highly likely’ as opposed to 20% when the internet is not mentioned.

From a marketing perspective, TalkTrack discovered that advertising is still the number one driver of brand mentions (17%), followed by programming/ editorial (11%), websites (10%), POS (8%), promotions (5%), social media or online reviews (4%) and direct mail (4%). Additionally, the study discovered that 67% of conversations that contain a media or marketing reference also include a recommendation to buy, as opposed to 51% without these mentions, and the young and educated are more like to reference media or marketing.

Added to all that, the study identified an influential group of brand advocates, officially named Conversation Catalysts™ by Keller Fay, the specialist company that conducted the research. In all, around 8% of the community falls into this group, a group more likely to earn over £55k per annum, be degree educated and have a professional occupation. Conversation Catalysts™ will usually have a social network twice the size of the average consumer; they mention twice as many brands per week and are twice as likely to give advice.

Other major findings include: The Top 10 brands with the highest percentage of positive mentions (descending):, BMW, New Look, Sony, Adidas, Nescafe, Volkswagen, Primark, HP and Nike . Top 10 brands with the lowest percentage of positive mentions (descending): Microsoft, HSBC, Santander, Vodafone, McDonalds, T-Mobile, KFC, Barclays, TalkTalk and BT . Those in the 24-35yo age bracket are more likely to talk about brands . The older you get, the less negative you tend to become about brands . People earning under £15k are more likely to be negative . People who are married or married with kids are more likely to be positive . 64% of people have a conversation on Food and dining on a daily basis, with media and entertainment a close second at 63% . 57% of people mention Beverages on an average day, with sports, recreation and hobbies at 50% and technology close behind at 48% . Media, technology and personal care received the highest proportion of positive mentions, with banks registering the lowest net advocacy .

Stewart Easterbrook, CEO at Starcom MediaVest Group UK, said: “TalkTrack is a crucial new study for brands in the UK, given its unrivalled ability to track brand advocacy via word of mouth. We have long since known how much word of mouth can affect brand success but TalkTrack allows us to track who, what, when and where brand conversations are taking place. Knowing the impact of media and marketing and who the most influential consumers are is crucial in understanding the role media can have in earning share of voice.”

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