Forget advertising, incentives and, yes, even our excellently crafted vehicle reviews, sometimes the best way for automakers to sell cars is still good ol' fashioned word of mouth. In an attempt to measure this "word of mouth" power, The Boston Consulting Group, a management consulting firm, has created a new study called the Brand Advocacy Index (BAI). The index takes a look at how various industries perform from person to person. Those industries include automotive, smartphones, grocery, mobile telecommunications and banking.

The study polled more than 32,000 individuals across Europe and in the US to come up with the top 55 brands in these various industries. On the automotive side of things, the top brands in the US were Honda, Hyundai and Kia, all tied at 63 percent. On a global scale, Volkswagen and Toyota scored the highest with a 65-percent BAI rating (both in France). The average BAI for auto industry players tallied 50 percent.

As for companies in other industries, Apple's iPhone was the index's top-rated smartphone, Trader Joe's was the highest recommended grocery store, Virgin was sat atop the mobile telecom industry and USAA was the top retail bank. Scroll down for the full press release on the new study.
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BCG Inaugurates the Brand Advocacy Index

BOSTON, December 2, 2013-The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) announces today the launch of the Brand Advocacy Index (BAI), a strategic metric that measures word-of-mouth recommendations with much greater precision than existing approaches. Unlike competing measures, BAI displays a strong correlation with top-line growth and helps identify concrete actions for improving what is known as "brand advocacy."

A new report from BCG estimates that brands with high levels of advocacy-the most recommended brands-significantly outperform heavily criticized companies. For 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. The report, titled Fueling Growth Through Word of Mouth: Introducing the Brand Advocacy Index, is being released today.

Smart marketers have long understood that word-of-mouth recommendations from consumers 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. BCG has created BAI to address these gaps. BAI displays a strong correlation with top-line growth-81 percent, or double that of other measures of customer promotion. It also reveals 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.

"Although the level of advocacy varies widely by industry and country, we have not found a single category in which advocacy is irrelevant," says Pedro Esquivias, a BCG partner and coauthor of the report. "BAI opens a window onto the precise mechanisms for measuring and managing brand advocacy, allowing any brand to harness these insights to fuel growth."

BAI shines a spotlight on the companies that have achieved the pinnacle of word-of-mouth recommendations. To understand where companies stand, we surveyed more than 32,000 consumers in France, Germany, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S. The results reveal the brands that respondents recommended the most, selected from five diverse product categories in these countries. Only 55 brands have earned a place on our new list. (See the exhibit below.) Each brand achieved its position by being in the top three brands in its respective product category and country.

Click to Enlarge

"Consumers are positively recommending the most recommended brands to their friends, family, and coworkers-often spontaneously and even when they are not customers of the brand," said Steve Knox, a BCG senior advisor and coauthor of the report. "Their strong financial results show the power of advocacy to drive top-line growth."

Noncustomers can be particularly influential in certain industries, such as those in which consumers purchase products and services infrequently or in which only a small number of consumers purchase. The luxury automobile industry is an example: even though relatively few people own luxury autos, a large number of people feel entitled to share their opinions about the leading brands.

In the report, authors Pedro Esquivias, Steve Knox, Victor Sánchez-Rodríguez, and Jody Visser explore how BAI can guide brands, identifying and prioritizing critical areas of brand strategy and customer experience as part of a larger effort of brand-centric transformation. For areas in which the brand is weak, BAI can help prioritize actions with the highest potential to transform the business and drive advocacy. For areas in which the brand is strong, BAI can help build on specific brand advantages to drive advocacy. BAI can also help companies focus on the right segments. In addition to guiding brand transformation, BAI offers unique insights into broader issues of, for example, operations, customer service, and loyalty programs that could be improved with a better understanding of the specific brand attributes that customers value.

In an environment of constrained resources, some smart companies are planning to add advocacy to their traditional marketing mix. These forward-looking organizations want to build long-term relationships, not just Facebook "likes" and buzz. BAI offers brands an efficient way to measure this vital leading indicator, simultaneously maximizing scarce resources and driving growth. For companies ahead of the curve, our approach to measuring advocacy confers a significant advantage. For those relatively rare brands that can build an emotional connection with consumers in advance of the competition, that competitive position can be difficult to dislodge.


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  • 79 Comments
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        Domari Nolo
        • 1 Year Ago
        My wife had a lot of issues with her 2011 Sonata 2.0T as well. Thankfully, it was a lease which was recently returned. The brake switch failed several times, making the push button start inoperative. The battery was continuously being eaten by something...we went through 3 batteries in 3 years. The headlights would dim and brighten while driving. Perfectly flat road, no change in throttle, and they'd change brightness every 15 seconds or so. There was another issue or two that I can't think of, but the battery issue and the brake switch left my wife stranded more than once. No more Hyundai for us.
          S40Powered
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Domari Nolo
          Sorry to hear. What a joke of a brand (Kia/Hyundai).
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Domari Nolo
          [blocked]
          Fenix Baby
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Domari Nolo
          I have a 2011 Sonata as we'll (SE, non turbo) and have not had a single problem with it.
          Justin
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Domari Nolo
          Every auto maker makes some bad cars. I had two new Hyundais that never had any problems, but have had issues with my latest one. I've convinced several friends and family to check them out and most have bought Hyundais and love them.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        RetrogradE
        • 1 Year Ago
        The people who share the carport at your apartment building will be so sad to hear you won't be expanding your arsenal. :(
        askroon
        • 1 Year Ago
        What if Hyundai made a fast, sporty and good looking rear-drive roadster? Would you still not consider it on principle?
      q1ford
      • 1 Year Ago
      Come on people and wake up. Support our american country. Buy amercan cars. These are the people that got us into WWll. If it wasn't for the big three during WWll making tanks, planes, and military vehicles maybe we would of lost the war. Wake up america.....
        • 1 Year Ago
        @q1ford
        [blocked]
          • 1 Year Ago
          [blocked]
          • 1 Year Ago
          [blocked]
          GR
          • 1 Year Ago
          pondnavy, News Flash: WWII ended in 1945. Japan surrendered and has not had a military since. Japan is now a nation better known for Hello Kitty, Pokemon, Domo-kun, Playstation, and cars. Oh yeah, the crux of evil right there. Hey, Germany was an evil fascist empire in WWII. Italy was allied with Germany and Japan to form the three Axis nations. Let's not buy Japanese, German, or Italian cars! ...Oh wait, they only make some of the best cars in the world. Man, the idiots are in full force today.
          • 1 Year Ago
          [blocked]
          GR
          • 1 Year Ago
          pondnavy, Maybe you should read what I wrote about Korea and Japan above. It's obvious I am educated on Japan's atrocities during WWII. However, boycotting and holding hatred towards the Japanese today because of actions taken by their military in WWII is ridiculous. The Koreans and Chinese have killed more of each other in their communist civil wars than the Japanese ever did in case you think Japan is the crux of evil in Asia. How the hell do you think Taiwan and North Korea formed? Also, Japan is the nation that lead Asia into power, you dunce. They are the first Asian super power and they got there within 40 years from the ashes of a defeated war. The Koreans are merely replicating what the Japanese did in the 80's with electronics and cars, but cheaper. China is rising but mostly because of the sheer size and scale of production capabilities which brings in capital and investment. They are hardly into innovation unlike the Japanese. Germany is trusted in Europe, but not because of their attitude towards WWII, but because they have the most powerful economy in the EU and they are single-handedly keeping the Euro afloat. Germans have the best work ethic and commitment to quality and all the other Europeans know it. Europe is broke without Germany. Also, I have met many Jews who still don't trust Germans and don't buy German brands. It's not like all is well. You sound to me like a very biased person against Japan. You probably have some indoctrinated hatred for them.
          GR
          • 1 Year Ago
          While I agree that the Japanese GOVERNMENT has done a pathetic job in addressing the atrocities, I don't see how that should justify a prejudicial hatred towards all Japanese PEOPLE like you apparently have. Governments don't represent the people, especially in an empire headed by a monarch such as in war-time Japan. While you claim Japan gets no respect from the rest of Asia, I find that assuming as the rest of Asia models themselves after Japan. Asia is renown in the world for technology, a trend Japan started way back in the 70's. Also, Japan was the first Asian nation to mass produce automobiles and sell them to the rest of the world. The other Asians are playing copy and catch-up, following the road Japan paved. It's simply history, son. Japan also has a low crime rate and is the most philanthropic nation in Asia by a long shot. Not sure how that is the stuff of evil. Oh, they also carry themselves in an envious manner of order and collectivism after disasters while most other nations loot and riot. I survived a massive earthquake in Japan in 1995 and saw it firsthand. The latest 2011 tsunami in Japan again showed the world Japan's calm and solidarity in the face of disaster. Go ahead, hate on Japan. It assumes me. Meanwhile even Hello Kitty has been such an international marketable hit that the founder of Sanrio is literally a billionaire. Even a fictional cat character from Japan has more success than many companies elsewhere. You mad, bro? Pokemon says hi.
          bubba_roe
          • 1 Year Ago
          You sound like a f'ing moron.
        GR
        • 1 Year Ago
        @q1ford
        q1ford, I take it you were not a good student because you don't seem to know history nor be able to differentiate between Koreans and Japanese. First of all, Hyundai and KIA are from SOUTH KOREA. This country is separate from Japan. Honda is from Japan. While Korea and Japan are near each other and the people may even look similar, they have quite a different history, especially regarding each other. In fact, during this WWII you talk of, Japan occupied Korea and enslaved many Koreans. To this day, there is quite some animosity and tension between the two nations. Korea, (back then, there was only one) was not an enemy of the US and was liberated when Japan was defeated. We even fought with South Korea in the 50's against the Communists from the North. Now lets talk about Honda. Yes, they are Japanese, however, the company was founded AFTER WWII! Imagine that!? In fact, founder Soichiro Honda was an engineer who worked for Toyota during WWII. After the war, he left to start his own company that you know today. While domestic cars are pretty good, ignorance and blind patriotism are not good reasons to buy them. Most Americans are smart enough to get the best car for their budget. That's not always a domestic. I recently rented a 2014 Ford Fusion and I really liked it. It was a great car unlike domestic midsizes from decades ago. People like you would then claim that with cars like these, why buy foreign brands? The grand irony? The Ford Fusion I rented was made in Mexico where most Fusions are made. Most Hyundais, KIAs, and Hondas on American roads are made in the USA. Please educate yourself for many reasons.
          GR
          • 1 Year Ago
          @GR
          q1ford, Wrong again. Some, only some, of the new Fusions are made in the USA. Most are made in Mexico. I believe all models with the Duratec engine are made in Mexico. These are the SE models which make up the bulk of sales. Also, ALL previous Fusions were made in Mexico and so were their variants like the MKZ and the Milano. You need to start checking VINs and make more valid arguments. You also treat corporations like some kind of charity. Since when did the Big 3 give handouts to Americans? Car makers are global corporations and only care to make profit. In fact, they cost the American taxpayer more than they did any good for them. Did you forget we bailed out GM and Chrysler and almost did the same for Ford? I care more about where a car is made than the nation of corporate origin.
          q1ford
          • 1 Year Ago
          @GR
          The 2014 Ford Fusion is made at the Flat Rock Michigan plant. It is made in AMERICA and the money stays in AMERICA. Not like Honda Kia and hyundai. They might be made here but the money will go back to there country to make there country stronger....
          askroon
          • 1 Year Ago
          @GR
          @john96xlt no... he is right, most Hyundais and Kias are built in the US - their top selling models, Sonata, Elantra, Optima, Sorento - all made in the US.
        bubba_roe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @q1ford
        Lol, Korea got us into WW2? Moron.
        GOSCH
        • 1 Year Ago
        @q1ford
        Naah You wake up from mid 20th century's relentless patriotism.
      charles
      • 1 Year Ago
      I went car shopping recently and the Sonata was tops for me. It had the best headroom and standard equipment I wanted versus Toyota & Honda which only had the same equipment on their higher end models. XM radio and heated mirrors needs to be standard folks. These are the two options I desire most. I don't need blind spot or the lane departure bs.
        Titansfan1967
        • 1 Year Ago
        @charles
        Head room in the front not in the back
          Justin
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Titansfan1967
          I'm 6' tall and 3 of my friends have new Sonatas, never had a problem sitting in the back seat.
        Astutent
        • 1 Year Ago
        @charles
        XM radio and heated mirrors standard? Some of us don't want to pay a $30,000 base price, when we only want $22,000 of car. Mazda seems to understand this. Very impressed with them.
      Oliver
      • 1 Year Ago
      im always recommending Hyundai's/Kia and also Mazda, yet my voice is always defeated by Honda/Toyota loving sheep
        RetrogradE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Oliver
        If your voice is as weak as your writing, I wouldn't blame sheep for your lack of persuasiveness.
      Eli Sanchez
      • 1 Year Ago
      But they are crappy cars so how is that positive?
        askroon
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Eli Sanchez
        Obviously not so crappy if people recommend them by word-of-mouth
      mylz
      • 1 Year Ago
      The only reason why people go to Hyundai and Kia is because they are cheap and the 10yr warrenty. The problem with it is people never read all the fine print. My neighbors kia didnt even make it to 6 years and everything that was going wrong with it Kia refused to fix. Got her to upgrade into a Malibu and she loves it. I have 2 friends who leased hyundais. One just got a ford fusion and the other a chevy cruze. They were thrilled when their leases were up
        Justin
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mylz
        Wow I guess those 3 people represent the millions of repeat Hyundai/Kia buyers!!! My friend's mom had a new Camry that had nothing but problems, I guess that means they are all terrible!!
      GOSCH
      • 1 Year Ago
      I can smell GM patriots' ego melting down lol Chevrolet decided to leave Europe, Ford cannot afford to make FR luxury sedan, and Chrysler is getting help from tiny Fiat cars. Those big 3s are certainly behind from Asian big carmakers when it comes to global market. Everybody knows that GM's tremendous sales figure comes from American's pickup lovers and lots and lots of subsidiaries. Shame on Government Motors!
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GOSCH
        [blocked]
          Herman
          • 1 Year Ago
          Pond, you need to review the taxes imposed by Korea vs. the USA on passenger cars.
        superchan7
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GOSCH
        Cool story bro.
        Titansfan1967
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GOSCH
        GM is not pulling out of europe they decidedto pull Chevrolet because it was offsetting opel and vauxhall sales did not make sense. All that means is instead of buying a chevy malibu you will but a opel malibu or a vauxhall malibu in grat britain
          john96xlt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Titansfan1967
          Don't confuse the boy with facts, he might injure himself trying to think that hard.
      Justin
      • 1 Year Ago
      I have convinced several friends and family to check out Hyundai when they were in the market and most ended up buying one. Everyone loves their car still and I've never heard any complaints.
      askroon
      • 1 Year Ago
      This does not surprise me. Everyone I know who has a Hyundai or Kia is constantly praising the brands and I've noticed recently that even people who don't own Hyundais or Kias are more receptive to considering them. Plus I see a ton of them on the road now. I have a 2012 Veloster, a 2001 Accent, and a 2004 Kia Sorento. None of the cars have ever had a major issue (had to replace the Accent's fuel tank at 110,000 miles, Sorento needed maintenance to get into second gear immediately on purchase, and zero problems with the Veloster). Additionally, I had a 2008 Sorento when I lived in Belize and it handled absolutely everything I threw at it (demanding off-roading with limited access to maintenance facilities). It was a much better car than the other car I drove there, an Isuzu Rodeo. The only problem was when I drove too close behind a truck and got a stone in the windshield. I would recommend Hyundai or Kia to anyone.
        Herman
        • 1 Year Ago
        @askroon
        You should have ask me about my experience then.
          bubba_roe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Herman
          Your experience isnt anymore important than people who have had good experiences with them.
          askroon
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Herman
          I read about your experience. What 2010 Kia model did you purchase, if I may ask? Also, did you ever talk to corporate Kia about the problems you experienced? Or just the dealership?
      mbukukanyau
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yes, Especially when people do not know any better. They suffer thinking they are in automotive bliss.
      bubba_roe
      • 1 Year Ago
      Are all dumpmestic fanboys racist?
        john96xlt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bubba_roe
        Are all of your comments idiotic on purpose or do they just come that way naturally?
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