MSW●ARS recently completed a four-part blog series on Marketing Accountability Standards Board’s game changing brand investment and valuation (BIV) project. The objective of the MASB project was to establish the quantitative linkages between marketing and financial metrics, in order to answer such questions as “how much is my brand worth in financial terms?” and “how much will my marketing grow my brand’s value?” The two year MASB study identified the MSW●ARS Brand Preference measure as uniquely suited in its capability of capturing the effects of all branding activities and having demonstrated a link with actual in-market performance across a variety of diverse categories.
In the previous blog series, we wrote extensively about the unique capabilities of the MSW●ARS Brand Preference measure, its linkage to financial performance and superiority to other approaches to measuring brand strength as well as its validity across a broad range of different categories. But how can brands apply this metric to gain an understanding of the strength of their brand over time and in relationship to the competition?
To this end MSW●ARS has introduced the syndicated Brand Strength Monitor, which features the following capabilities and components.
Leverages the MSW●ARS Research Brand Preference Measure
First and foremost, the cornerstone of The Brand Strength Monitor is the patented behavioral MSW●ARS Brand Preference measure that captures respondents’ true brand desires by asking them to choose the product they would like to win from a balanced competitive set as part of a set of prize drawings across multiple product categories. This method isolates brand strength by holding everything else in the actual buying experience (such as price, distribution, promotion, shelf position, etc.) constant.
The MASB BIV study of 120 brands across 12 diverse categories validated the linkage of this metric to financial performance. The findings are illustrated in the following chart, which demonstrates the strong relationship between Brand Preference and Unit Share:
But importantly, Brand Preference differs from market share. Market share is affected by numerous market factors such as price, distribution, advertising, retail promotion, and seasonality – even the weather!
However, Brand Preference isolates brand strength from market factors to give a true and unbiased reading of brand health. This is demonstrated by the fact that the relationship to unit share improves markedly when two of the most influential market factors – price premium and distribution – are used to adjust Brand Preference:
A case study of a brand in a highly promotion-driven and seasonal (both in terms of category sales and relative market shares) category helps to illustrate this important difference. Over a twelve month period, this brand’s declining share level but strengthening Brand Preference appear to signal not only a disconnect between these two metrics, but also a worrying trend for the brand:
However, in reality the brand’s market share was reflecting both typical seasonal patterns and an aggressive pricing strategy of a key competitor. Strengthening preference indicated that the brand should be poised for a strong bounce-back under more favorable market conditions. This is exactly what happened, as unit share in the key peak category-sales month grew by over half a share point versus the prior year.
Uniquely and Independently Verified
The patented MSW●ARS Brand Preference system is uniquely qualified as a measure of brand value having withstood independent scrutiny by industry groups and academics. Before being adopted as the key brand strength metric for the MASB BIV project, it was required to meet MASB’s stringent, predetermined set of 10 criteria of an ideal metric. As described in our first BIV blog posting, Brand Preference was judged by MASB to meet all 10. In addition, with the completion of the BIV project, Brand Preference has become the ONLY independently validated measure of brand value available.
As a component of the CCPersuasion communication testing system, Brand Preference underwent independent evaluation of Professor John Philip Jones of Syracuse University. After a rigorous review of methodology and validation evidence, he concluded
I have little doubt in my mind that the system has enormous potential for reducing the uncertainties of advertising decision making.
Comprehensive Category View
The Brand Strength Monitor provides continuous monthly reads of Brand Preference for all competing brands in the product category. This provides brands with a comprehensive view of the state of their category both over time and in terms of category scope. Understanding brand strength of the competition can help answer numerous questions which can provide valuable input to decision making. A few examples include:
- Is a competitor with growing share actually building brand value, or simply buying sales in the short term – helping to understand which potential threats are real.
- Which competitors have increased brand value – allowing us to study and learn from marketing strategies that have helped build value within the category.
- Among innovative new entries in the category, which are building preference among consumers – revealing strategies that can be reapplied or potential acquisition targets.
Another case study illustrates how a category leader can use The Brand Strength Monitor to assess a potential threat. In this case the most recent 6-month period is compared to the year-ago 6-month period. While the category leader experienced a small gain in market share the key competitor grew nearly a full share point.
Comparing changes in both price indexed to the category average and Brand Preference puts this potential threat in proper perspective. The category leader dropped price significantly to pick up three-tenths of a share point, while the key competitor gained nearly a share point with a higher price index. How was this possible? The competitor was able to grow preference significantly over this time period. Understanding this as a real threat, the category leader can study the competitor’s marketing activity to assess how brand value was built and respond appropriately.
Ease of Use
The Brand Strength Monitor is a web-enabled solution that provides an on-line dashboard that allows clients to view Brand Strength data for all the brands within their category. Enhanced functionality allows data to be viewed monthly or rolled up quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. In addition, an array of demographic data is not only provided but can be used with simple online tools to cut the data and draw out additional insights. For example, for the category summarized in the following table, Brand A is shown to have been successful with the release of a younger-age targeted varietal and associated ad campaigns, as it is seen to have created a significant lead among Millennials in terms of brand strength:
In addition, data can be easily exported into clients’ marketing and financial information systems to allow additional analysis and modeling work to be carried out.
As a syndicated and streamlined offering, The Brand Strength Monitor is an affordable solution for tracking brand strength. In addition, robust sample sizes provide added value and sensitivity over even relatively short time periods and allows even small demographic groups to be examined and compared as data is rolled up across multiple monthly periods.
Ultimately, The Brand Strength Monitor has been designed to help brands make better and more timely decisions, bringing a simple, transparent and unbiased measure of brand value to marketers and thus allowing them to accurately assess potential investments in the brand and improve the financial performance of their marketing initiatives.
To learn more about The Brand Strength Monitor please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.