Brand advocacy platform Duel has secured a £1.8m funding round led by Downing Ventures, Publicis Groupe, London Co-Investment Fund and University of Bristol Enterprise Fund.

The MarTech platform is designed to helps brands nurture relationships with their advocates and improve word-of-mouth sales, backed by growth techniques from viral gaming and consumer psychology.

The SaaS 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.

Offered as an alternative to digital advertising, it works with companies including Monica Vinader, Frugi and King of Shaves.

The investment will be used to develop Duel’s suite of brand advocacy tools, advance its patented curation AI and rapidly hire more community and brand experts to support the growing number of brand builders pioneering the Brand Advocacy category.

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.

“Brands from Lululemon and Glossier to Tough Mudder and Patagonia have all grown using brand advocacy strategies that use their biggest advocates – be it customers, ambassadors, industry professionals, staff or store associates – to spread their story via word of mouth.”