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An Insider Look At Reinventing Brand Equity Tracking

Creating a powerful brand success system for a digital, social, mobile age.

brand tracking

 

By Joel Rubinson

Having analyzed the brand equity of hundreds of brands, CPG and non-CPG, US and global, I want to share my thoughts on creating a powerful brand success system for a digital, social, mobile age.

First, I want you to imagine 5 segments of consumers based on the strength of their relationship to your brand, using a “romantic relationship” metaphor.

  • Soulmate. Such consumers devote the highest share of their purchases to your brand, on average, usually more than 70%. Your brand has important and unique meaning to them. They shop very differently. They do little research into their upcoming purchases and just want to easily locate your brand while in the store. They are most likely to be the customers who feel a sense of community with others who love your brand as well. Half or more of brand sales will come from this group
  • Going Steady: Prefer your brand but regularly buy or consider one or more competitors as well. Still, you win half or more of their purchases. This group accounts for a significant portion of your sales as well
  • Just dating: you are one of a number of acceptable brands and probably not the most preferred. When shopping, such consumers are likely to be alert for deals and will buy you occasionally.
  • Hey, you look familiar: The consumer has general awareness of your brand and what type of offer it is functionally. You are probably in the consideration set but there is little purchasing and brand experience
  • Ships in the night. You pass each other, not stopping or speaking, with little awareness of presence. These are non-buyers of your brand.

Notice a few things in this segmentation:

  • There is positive business impact if you upgrade a consumer from one segment to another
  • Attitudes towards your brand relative to other brands influence what segment a consumer is in.
  • …The largest differentiator between soulmate and going steady is not what they think of your brand but what they think of others…whether your brand EXCLUSIVELY OWNS IMPORTANT FUNCTIONAL AND EMOTIONAL CONNECTIONS. For this reason, you need to profile each consumer on their beliefs across all brands using an “attribute check-off” approach summarized into an “attribute advantage” score.
  • The middle three segments are open-minded across a portfolio of acceptable choices. These segments are most influenced by media and shopper marketing.

Some key questions for guiding your brand to success:

  • Is your share of soulmates equal or greater to your share of market? Is the gap trending in a positive way?
  • What is the ratio of soulmates to going steady? Are your loyal buyers really into your brand?
  • What are the digital behaviors of your soulmates and going steady consumers? Are they liking your brand on Facebook, visiting your website, signing up for e-mails, and downloading your apps? Are they talking about you in social media?
  • How does your equity vary across need states and moments? Perhaps your brand is a powerhouse for pantry loading but a weakling for away from home consumption. Mobile research is essential to understand this.

In terms of media strategies, digital, social and mobile give the marketer options for activating this brand equity approach that never existed when it was first created in the 90s, so this is exciting and newly contemporary.

A key is to use digital clickstream patterns to estimate which segment a given user is in so you can target the right marketing communication and offer programs that strengthen and upgrade relationships. For example, the marketer should target paid digital advertising to those in the middle three relationship groups as they can be most influenced regarding an upcoming purchase. Furthermore, you can target the moment when they are shopping or planning to shop for maximum effect using digital analysis and delivering offers via mobile. This will increase the ROI of your advertising efforts. Another example is to use Facebook to upgrade your fans from going steady to soulmates. Both segments are willing to like your brand on Facebook and that gives you permission to serve a steady stream of updates into their newsfeeds that can deepen your relationship.

Some parting words of advice. Just like no one wants ¼” drillbits, but plenty want ¼” holes, marketers don’t want brand tracking…they want a brand success system. This system needs to seamlessly integrate insights, metrics, and media actions because today, it all comes at you at once. Finally, you need a framework for integrating survey, digital, and social data into a powerful set of KPIs and predictive tools to be positioned to succeed in a digital, social, and mobile age.

My experience comes from creating a quantitative modeling system called BrandBuilder when I was Chief Research Officer at the NPD Group, from brand equity measurement engagements when I was at Vivaldi Partners, and from redesigning massive brand trackers for clients as Rubinson Partners, Inc consulting assignments.

Having analyzed the brand equity of hundreds of brands, CPG and non-CPG, US and global, I want to share my thoughts on creating a powerful brand success system for a digital, social, mobile age.

First, I want you to imagine 5 segments of consumers based on the strength of their relationship to your brand, using a “romantic relationship” metaphor.

  • Soulmate. Such consumers devote the highest share of their purchases to your brand, on average, usually more than 70%. Your brand has important and unique meaning to them. They shop very differently.They do little research into their upcoming purchases and just want to easily locate your brand while in the store. They are most likely to be the customers who feel a sense of community with others who love your brand as well. Half or more of brand sales will come from this group
  • Going Steady: Prefer your brand but regularly buy or consider one or more competitors as well.Still, you win half or more of their purchases. This group accounts for a significant portion of your sales as well
  • Just dating: you are one of a number of acceptable brands and probably not the most preferred. When shopping, such consumers are likely to be alert for deals and will buy you occasionally.
  • Hey, you look familiar: The consumer has general awareness of your brand and what type of offer it is functionally.You are probably in the consideration set but there is little purchasing and brand experience
  • Ships in the night.You pass each other, not stopping or speaking, with little awareness of presence. These are non-buyers of your brand.

Notice a few things in this segmentation:

  • There is positive business impact if you upgrade a consumer from one segment to another
  • Attitudes towards your brand relative to other brands influence what segment a consumer is in.
  • …The largest differentiator between soulmate and going steady is not what they think of your brand but what they think of others…whether your brand EXCLUSIVELY OWNS IMPORTANT FUNCTIONAL AND EMOTIONAL CONNECTIONS. For this reason, you need to profile each consumer on their beliefs across all brands using an “attribute check-off” approach summarized into an “attribute advantage” score.
  • The middle three segments are open-minded across a portfolio of acceptable choices.These segments are most influenced by media and shopper marketing.

Some key questions for guiding your brand to success:

  • Is your share of soulmates equal or greater to your share of market? Is the gap trending in a positive way?
  • What is the ratio of soulmates to going steady?Are your loyal buyers really into your brand?
  • What are the digital behaviors of your soulmates and going steady consumers?Are they liking your brand on Facebook, visiting your website, signing up for e-mails, and downloading your apps? Are they talking about you in social media?
  • How does your equity vary across need states and moments? Perhaps your brand is a powerhouse for pantry loading but a weakling for away from home consumption. Mobile research is essential to understand this.

In terms of media strategies, digital, social and mobile give the marketer options for activating this brand equity approach that never existed when it was first created in the 90s, so this is exciting and newly contemporary.

A key is to use digital clickstream patterns to estimate which segment a given user is in so you can target the right marketing communication and offer programs that strengthen and upgrade relationships. For example, the marketer should target paid digital advertising to those in the middle three relationship groups as they can be most influenced regarding an upcoming purchase.Furthermore, you can target the moment when they are shopping or planning to shop for maximum effect using digital analysis and delivering offers via mobile. This will increase the ROI of your advertising efforts.Another example is to use Facebook to upgrade your fans from going steady to soulmates.Both segments are willing to like your brand on Facebook and that gives you permission to serve a steady stream of updates into their newsfeeds that can deepen your relationship.

Some parting words of advice. Just like no one wants ¼” drillbits, but plenty want ¼” holes, marketers don’t want brand tracking…they want a brand success system. This system needs to seamlessly integrate insights, metrics, and media actions because today, it all comes at you at once. Finally, you need a framework for integrating survey, digital, and social data into a powerful set of KPIs and predictive tools to be positioned to succeed in a digital, social, and mobile age.

My experience comes from creating a quantitative modeling system called BrandBuilder when I was Chief Research Officer at the NPD Group, from brand equity measurement engagements when I was at Vivaldi Partners, and from redesigning massive brand trackers for clients as Rubinson Partners, Inc consulting assignments.

– See more at: http://blog.joelrubinson.net/2013/08/an-insider-look-at-reinventing-brand-equity-tracking/#sthash.bFIbzoua.U7bu67KU.dpuf

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5 Responses to “An Insider Look At Reinventing Brand Equity Tracking”

  1. Chris Robinson says:

    August 20th, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Joel’s model based on a hierarchy of brand relationships is hardly new. In fact every brand equity model from the 1980’s onward that came out of Australia (Stochastic, Mind Share, etc) or the UK (Milward Brown, Hall &n Partners) has a type of scale that attempts to represent the brand relationship based on Preference and Preference set sizes and shares in similar structures to that postulated by Joel.

    The type of segment is derived either based on brand usage and/or brand attributions. One other thing that we have known for many years is that you cannot rely on consumer perceptions of their brand purchase behaviour. Work by Nielsen in the retail audit area has confirmed almost mindless purchase behaviour with frivolous promotional interest. This work seemed to suggest that at least in FMCG areas consumers were not really having any special relationship at all.

    This is of course the “elephant in the room” with advertisers, social media hypster and young brand managers. Do they ever really ask why they should expect a quality brand “relationship” with a housewife or teenager? I do find it hard sometimes to get enthused about clients perceptions of their brand’s importance to the end consumer. Do we dare ask?

  2. Robin Brown says:

    August 21st, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Chris – and The Conversion Model

    I agree that clients inflate the importance of their brands in the minds of consumers and fail to look at the role it plays holistically in the consumers’ life.

    I wonder if brands simply are becoming less important over time. Especially CPG ones. When P&G first started selling branded soap, the alternative was making your own from household fat. P&G made the kind of difference to consumers’ lives that the 17th line extension of Triscuit never can.

    However hardly surprising that clients do not want to hear the importance of what they do on a daily basis questioned.

  3. David Sackman says:

    August 22nd, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Love the relationship metaphor. At LRW, as we reinvent how to look at brand equity, we’re focused on a couple things. First, we’re not limiting our data sourrces to just survey data; rather we’re integrating in social media and other Big Data analyses as well. We’re also looking at a brand’s market development differently from what we’ve trademarked as the Brand Stereotype™. With the help of our Pragmatic Brain Science Institute®, we’re then analyzing the Brand Stereotype™ to understand what the rational,conscious associations are versus the emotional and non-conscious associations. From there, we’ve developed an approach to link the data to a brand’s financial performance … and what actions are necessary to improve the brand’s performance. You’re right that there is a need to think differently about Brand Equity.

  4. joel rubinson says:

    August 23rd, 2013 at 7:35 am

    Hello all. thanks for your valuable comments. I can assure you that BrandBuilder was quite differentiated from those other early models as we were the only ones actually modeling the vector of probabilities of purchase from each respondent towards each brand and then using the attribute ratings to model this by considering not only how your brand was rated by a user but whether or not they thought any other brand stood for that attribute. The breakthroughs were enormous, including creating a method of deriving attribute importance at an individual level and also creating a calibration system that outperformed the raw survey data and in fact, was better than hierarchical bayes at creating individual measures.

  5. Jeffrey Henning’s #MRX Top 10 – Getting Tracking on Track: Sight, Brand & Relevance | GreenBook says:

    September 4th, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    […] An insider look at reinventing brand equity tracking – Joel Rubinson shares a simple segmentation for understanding consumers’ relationship to your brand. […]

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