LONDON: British female shoppers are highly selective in the types of brands they recommend to friends, with food the sector most likely to benefit from positive word-of-mouth.

According to a survey of 2,000 25 to 33-year-olds living in Britain, conducted by market research firm Haygarth, 80% of women have previously recommended a food brand to friends and acquaintances, with 68% doing the same for a beauty brand, Marketing Week reports.

But utility brands were the least likely to be discussed, with just 12% of respondents having recommended an energy firm or water supplier. Cars finished second last on 18%.

Across the board, there was a striking resistance to the idea that ads shaped recommendations, with only a minority citing marketing as an influencer for any of the product categories. Branding was strongest in beauty products, with four in ten respondents saying it had been a factor behind past recommendations.

Below-the-line activity was a far stronger conscious influence, with six in ten buyers in the beauty, alcoholic drinks and food categories having previously recommended a brand to others on the basis of a promotion.

Preferred marketing channels cited by respondents of the poll also varied dependent on product category.

Official websites were the most popular choice for food brands, cited by 38%, while email topped the list for beauty brands on 39%. Digital touchpoints were also generally preferred to direct mail.

Sophie Daranyi, CEO of Haygarth, added: "Brands need to engage with their audience where they are already active, for example via social or email.

"This can lead to brand advocacy, which can drive competitive advantage; engaging with customers and building on those connections goes a long way to ensure a brand is remembered and talked about."

Data sourced from Marketing Week/The Drum; additional content by Warc staff