From choice nerds to tech-savvy customers, there are a host of reasons why someone might recommend your brand. Mary Winter explores why customers are encouraging others to shop with brands including Woolworths, Kathmandu and The Iconic.

A recommendation is a prized form of earned media. It’s free and it comes with credibility because we trust our friends and family.

However, recommendations are not easy. Making a recommendation requires us to lay ourselves on the line so it is risky. What if the brand doesn’t live up to the expectation?

Despite that, people continue to make recommendations. To work out what prompts them to, earlier this year, we conducted qualitative research across Australia and New Zealand. This is what we uncovered.

Sharing the magic of discovery

One of the greatest drivers of recommendation is that people enjoy sharing the magic of discovery.

Discoveries can come from anywhere, including, price, deals, promotions and service innovation. Brands would do well to help customers find the confidence to share when there is something new and exciting on offer.

As one research participant noted: “I recommended Woolworths car insurance to my mum and a friend. I have been impressed with them. Mainly I like the 10% off groceries I receive every month. It really makes a difference to the budget and at least I am getting a good insurance policy to go with it.”

Homework and bragging rights

There is a category of customer that is a choice nerd. These people love doing comparisons and are hellbent on finding the best deal. They pride themselves on superior homework and feel a sense of competition with the system. They like to feel they have won.

Our research does not tell us how big this segment is but this audience is extremely influential.

They don’t just do their homework to get a better deal but to tell everybody about it. Some people act as family advisors on price or consider it their duty to inform others of the best solutions they may neglect to do the proper homework. It would be invaluable for companies to find these customers and speak to their needs as they are very useful advocates.

A choice nerd in our research told us: “I don’t make any decision lightly and really delve into research to aid me in making choices in all areas of my life/household management. Due to this, I feel like my friends and family often come to me for advice, so I recommend brands and companies frequently.”


Surprising deals and offers get people talking. Everyone wants to pay less and sharing a great discount means people get the thrill of sharing their own joy.

A thrifty participant in our research said: “I have recommended ALDI mobile to my sister. I’m not sure who she is with, but she is paying something ridiculous like $80 a month whereas she could have the same, if not better service through ALDI for $25 per month!”

Surprising and delighting can also come in other ways, like surprise rewards, exciting new product stories and a chance to interact in a fun way.

As another participant told us: “I belong to their Woolworths Bunch group where I get given free products once a month – at least one or two products. The other day I was granted free a four-pack of blueberry muffins. In return, for Woolworths Bunch, I provide a review of the products I receive. With Woolworths, I also have their Everyday Rewards app on my phone, and right now as the app is turning two, to celebrate, they’re inviting me to spin the in-app wheel for a surprise offer every week for three weeks!”

Another participant said: “Of course, it really helps if there are discounts, free items or continuing to release new, exciting products to pique my interest. For example, a brand like Mecca has a loyalty program, free items in their Beauty Loop boxes and keeps their customers interested with new products.”

Shared values

People tend to recommend brands that share their values. Values are worth talking about and a brand’s behaviour can become a way to advocate what you stand for. It’s not just the environment that moves people. For example, people will spread the word if brands are seen to be empathetic and in touch with topical issues like the cost of living for families. If brands are seen to be helping their consumer in a way that moves beyond the business, it is talk-worthy.

One research participant said: “Kathmandu is an expensive brand. However, they are proactively trying to improve conditions for workers throughout their supply chain. When it comes to hiking gear, I talk about Kathmandu for these reasons.”


Some people get excited about apps and judge brands on their innovation. Software is worth talking about especially to other tech-focused people.

One tech-savvy research participant said: “I talk about The Iconic for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, they constantly consult with customers to update their website and app. They introduce new features based on that feedback.”

Proven track records

Proven track records of quality and trustworthiness are important. Brands that have never let anyone down are easy to recommend. These brands get recommended even if they don’t have the best deal or the cleverest idea.

So how can you put all this to work for your brand? Think about the benefits of your brand through the lens of someone who might recommend you. What are they recommending you for? Focus on finding and appealing to that customer base and get ready to reap the rewards.


This article first appeared in Inside Retail