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London Co-Investment Fund

Thriving in the Middle of a Pandemic

Current Climate

2020 has been one of the toughest years in living memory for business, and there hasn’t been a sector left unaffected. With the pandemic causing global economic uncertainty, start-ups are clawing at opportunities to stay afloat while addressing challenges on short notice as they arise. The ability to connect with customers and create cohesive team cultures has narrowed drastically as companies and customers alike adjust to operating in a purely digital space. Therefore, it’s not surprising that start-ups focusing on building community and long-term brand growth are adjusting more readily to the changes society is seeing.

Duel leads the way for Brand Advocacy, supporting fast-growth digital Brands

Duel’s unusual success is a byproduct of market changes that have been drastically accelerated by the pandemic:

  1. Reduced efficacy from short-term paid acquisition methods leading to a greater focus on organic growth from brands
  2. The increasing importance of brand communities and community marketing practices to build long-term growth

Brands are looking for opportunities to form deeper relationships with their customers, learn more about them and find ways to empower them to help grow the brand.

Being a platform that helps brands grow through passionate advocates, Duel is well situated to help. The team worked pro-bono with over 200 brands last year, building strategies around customer advocacy and community to help with surviving the crisis. The team’s brand consultants also opened up their product and services while providing free workshops and content to whoever needed them.

Duel also implemented the very principles they teach by creating their very own group of well-nurtured advocates that successfully brought in referred business and helped the brand grow through the creation of trust.

Who is Duel?

Duel, the UK’s leading brand advocacy platform, helps brands nurture relationships with their advocates to fuel retention and growth. Duel’s SaaS technology helps brands drive word-of-mouth sales, engage and retain customers, and build loyal brand communities. It serves to break a company’s reliance on digital advertising and other short-term marketing practices to deliver long term growth.

The Duel platform lets brands build VIP and membership-rewards schemes called Advocacy Programs that use tiers and perks to reward customer communities for supporting and recommending them. The technology powers an interactive portal on the brand’s website that drives over 100 advocacy behaviours, including content creation, social posting, product feedback, purchases and successful referrals.

Founded by world-record-breaking adventurer and former brand ambassador, Paul Archer, and viral games developer, Panagiotis Tsarouchis, the Duel team is made up of psychologists, brand experts and community builders from companies including Amazon and Lululemon. The platform is used by brands such as Monica Vinader, King of Shaves, Frugi and Mud Jeans and has consulted with over 450 brands including Amex, Travelex, M&S, Philips, Boots, Schuh and TopShop.

Paul Archer, founder and CEO of Duel, explains: “There has been a major generational shift in consumer behaviour that has stemmed from a trust crisis – trust in institutions, in brands, and in advertising is at an all-time low.

“That’s why we are seeing an emergence of new purpose-led brands not reliant on advertising for growth, but on communities of people – people who believe in their cause, who trust them and who want to join their movement. Brands from Lululemon and Glossier to Tough Mudder and Patagonia have all grown using brand advocacy marketing strategies that use their biggest advocates – be it customers, ambassadors, industry professionals, staff or store associates – to spread their story via word of mouth.”

Archer continues: “Driving growth through brand advocacy is the dream for brand builders in today’s hyper-connected social world, but the majority don’t know how to execute this new model of brand advocacy marketing. That’s why Duel exists – to provide companies with both the playbook and the technology to do so.”

What is next for Duel in 2021?

Duel is continuing to grow, recruiting brand strategists from leading retail brands, expanding their sales and account management teams, as well as looking towards a ‘game-changing’ investment round mid-2020s, with interest from funds on both sides of the Atlantic.

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