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Synovate Expo 2009: The karmic transformation of brands

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Marketing | October 30, 2009
Scott Lee, executive director, Synovate, APAC, speaks about how Indian brand measurement metrics need to undergo a transformation, which would in turn help brands to transform

The half-day Synovate Expo 2009, organised by the research arm of the Aegis Group, Synovate, had sessions discussing various subjects related to research and research techniques, such as branding, customer experience and enhancing return on investment in marketing.

The session on brand differentiation and brand affinity was taken forward by Scott Lee, executive director, Synovate, APAC. He began with stating that much of the brand measurement used in India today is based on models, which were developed in the UK back in the 70s.

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He emphasised that it is about time that brand measurement methods were reviewed -- what he defined as a "karmic transformation of brand equity measurement".

Lee divided his entire presentation into two parts -- one, that brand equity measurement should be linked to value and ROI; and second, building brands through life (personal) connections.

Taking ahead the first part, the number game in surveys bombs when in the real world, nothing really seems to be changing -- that is, the numbers don't seem to be a true representation of what the brand is amongst consumers.

A clear solution to that, Lee advises, would be for marketers to judge the strength of their brands on two parameters -- power of the brand in the mind, and power of the brand in the market.

Citing the instance of Coca-Cola, he brought out that brand marketers realised that building power in the market is as essential as building power in the mind. So, they took up a few initiatives -- setting up stand-alone fridges, opting to be the official drink of the US armed forces for World War II, and relentlessly focussing on distribution.

Understanding the metrics, the attitudinal share of Coca-Cola -- which is otherwise 5 points (second in ranking after hot coffee, which has a share of 6 points) -- stands first in ranking in terms of total equity share. This is due to a positive barrier impact of 4 points, whereas hot coffee gets 1 point through barrier impact. He points out that barrier impact could also prove to be positive for a brand.

Talking about barriers, he revealed that many a times, availability, and not price, is a barrier.

In the second part of the discussion, Lee talked about building an emotional connect with the consumer, saying that it is the ability of a brand to create brand value in the mind. He cited that in 1991, no one knew what was running inside their PCs; by 1995, they were worried if it wasn't Intel. That was the power of the brand to stir the mind.

Coming back to the example of Coca-Cola, he said that the brand was able to touch upon various emotions of the consumers, and was able to connect with them at various levels.

Not forgetting that communications are about building engagement, he quoted Herbert Krugman: "Engagement is about the connections a person makes between the content of the marketing and the content of her life." By its very nature, the basis of an emotional connection is about personal relevance.

Showing the audience an international ad clip of Knorr soups, which depicts how a tired woman comes home to a husband who makes soup for her, Lee tried to point out that the ad sparked personal connections with consumers.

The obvious point was that it's not about consumers liking an ad, but about what people actually do after viewing the ad. Many a times, communication pieces are not linked to purchase behaviour at all.

He concluded with the fact that four elements -- use/experience (in-store experience, customer service, occasion/users, product experience), planned competitions (advertising through television, print, radio, direct marketing; sponsorship and planned PR, putting together a website), competitor activity (share of voice, market pressures, strategy) and incidental happenings (word-of-mouth, unplanned PR, blogs and forums) -- are forces that contribute to the attitudinal equity of a brand.

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