My Marketing Metric Can Beat Up Your Marketing Metric

One of the more entertaining things in the world of marketing is the ongoing battle among firms for metric supremacy. After all, who doesn’t want to come up with the metric that everyone else adopts as the de facto standard?

Add one more firm to the battle. Market research firm Millward Brown (MB) put out a press release which claimed that:

Amazon.com [is] the top performing brand in the U.S. based on trust and recommendation, the key ingredients to brand success, according to a new report entitled “Beyond Trust: Engaging Consumers in the Post-Recession World.” The study introduces TrustR, a new metric for understanding and strengthening the bond between consumers and brands.”

According to MB, “TrustR is calculated by looking at consumer responses to the questions ‘how trustworthy is this brand?’ and ‘would you recommend this brand?’ The scores are indexed and combined to reach a TrustR score.”

In other words, what MB did was take the severely flawed Net Promoter Score, simplify it to a yes/no question instead of a 10-point scale (thank god for that), and add another question about a poorly defined construct, trustworthiness.

And then proclaim their measure to be the key ingredients to brand success.

Was there any proof or evidence offered as to why this new measure would be superior to what’s already out there?

No. Even worse, however, is that the seeds of TrustR’s weaknesses are found right there in the press release, itself.

Among the firms ranked by TrustR, Toyota came in at #7. There’s a footnote in the press release, however, that states that the study was “conducted over the course of 2009, prior to Toyota’s recent recall.”

How reliable could this TrustR measure be, if, in the course of just a couple of weeks, a firm’s score could be so volatile as to necessitate this footnote?

Isn’t one of the benefits or attributes of having a “trusted brand” supposed to be the brand’s ability to withstand some setbacks like what Toyota is experiencing?

(BTW, I rented a car a couple of weeks ago. The agent asked me “Kia or Toyota?” and I thought to myself “wow, I can’t remember the last time I had to make a life or death decision.”)

What this really goes to show is that asking consumers about their perceptions or intentions (“trustworthiness” or “likelihood to recommend”) simply isn’t worth basing your management measurement structure on.

It’s why I continually urge marketers to adopt behavioral-driven metrics. That is, to determine which behaviors – beyond purchase – characterize a good, profitable customer, and to then develop a set of metrics that gauge how well they do in driving more of their customer base towards those behaviors.

The other thing that made me laugh at MB’s press release is their choice of report title: Beyond Trust.

It wasn’t good enough for MB to report on trust – oh no, now it’s “beyond” trust. As if trust is passe, and we should put it behind us. I don’t know about you, but I’d be very happy to know my clients trusted me. I don’t want to know what’s beyond trust.

And so the time has come again, my friends, for the Marketing Tea Party to trot out its favorite marketing metric — the Net Purchaser Score (you don’t even have to remember a new acronym!). We define NPS as:

Net Purchaser Score: The difference between the number of people who bought your product and the number of people who didn’t.

My non-scientific research shows that the Marketing Tea Party NPS:

  1. Is highly correlated with revenue.
  2. Measures behavior (not intention).
  3. Encompasses all customers (not just a sample).
  4. Directly impacts the bottom line (not indirectly).
  5. Is simple!

I expect to make millions consulting to firms to help them calculate their new NPS score.

Editor’s Note: Millward Brown was acquired by Kantar in 2016.

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