Saturday, September 13, 2008

Beijing Olympics Sponsors Bring Home Gold: Both Brand Attitude and Brand Recommendation Score Higher for Sponsors - Sponsorship Awareness is Crucial

Hong Kong (PRWEB) September 13, 2008 -- A survey conducted by Aha! Research has found that the 2008 Beijing Olympics official sponsors have enjoyed significant benefits as a result of their involvement. Sponsor brands were shown to have experienced higher brand recommendation and brand attitudes compared with non-sponsor brands.

According to estimates, each of the top 12 sponsors of the 2008 Beijing Olympics spent about US$70 million to have their brand associated with this truly global event. Although watched by up to four billion people worldwide, it remains difficult for marketers to assess the impact of sponsorship on their business.

Measuring the effectiveness of sponsorship within the marketing mix has always been challenging, and as such its high costs can be difficult to justify. In this online survey conducted among 1,330 Chinese respondents randomly selected from an online consumer panel provided by GMI (Global Market Insite, Inc.), Aha! Research employed the crucial measures of brand recommendation and brand attitude to assess the marketing effectiveness of the brands that sponsored the event against those that did not. Awareness of sponsorship is a strong determinant on the scores of both these measurements, which also underlines the value of so-called ambush marketing.

"This research is groundbreaking in terms of understanding the effect of sponsorship, consumer awareness of it, and the importance of the two critical measures of brand recommendation and brand attitude," explains Peter Steyn, managing director of Aha! Research based in Hong Kong. "Research in most industries has found that high levels of brand recommendation and positive attitudes toward a brand are the most effective measures in determining brand loyalty and predicting future growth and profitability. This survey found that not only sponsorship itself, but more importantly, sponsorship awareness (whether accurate or not), differentiates brands on these two crucial measurements. Both measures exert a significant influence on consumer decision-making, as people often simplify buying decisions by opting for familiar brands."

Brand Recognition

The survey covered 29 official Beijing Olympic sponsors and partner brands. Ranked on recognition of brand being an official sponsor, the top five were Coca Cola, China Mobile, Lenovo, Bank of China and PICC. Those sponsors that achieved less than 20 percent recognition included Manulife, Atos Origin, Johnson & Johnson and BHP Billiton. Among the 41 non-sponsor brands mentioned in the survey, those with high levels of incorrect brand sponsorship recognition were Li Ning (67 percent), China Life Insurance Company (54 percent), Nike (50 percent) and Sina (41 percent).

Brand Recommendation

In the analysis of the survey data, 25 comparisons were made between a sponsor and a non-sponsoring competitor, for instance Air China compared to non-sponsor United Airlines, and Budweiser compared to non-sponsor Heineken. In all but 11 comparisons, the sponsor brand scored significantly higher on respondent's likelihood to recommend the brand to friends and family than the non-sponsor brands.

However, the survey data suggests that recognition of a brand being a sponsor is more crucial. All nine sponsor brands tested on brand recommendation showed a significantly higher score among respondents aware of their sponsorship than those who were not aware. This is also true for non-sponsor brands. Eleven of the 15 non-sponsor brands measured on brand recommendation also scored higher among those who incorrectly identified the non-sponsor brand as a sponsor. These findings clearly show the importance of sponsorship awareness among consumers.

Brand Attitude

The survey measured consumer attitude towards five brand sponsors - Air China, Bank of China, Tsingtao, Samsung and Adidas - against their five non-sponsor counterparts - United Airlines, ICBC, Heineken, Nokia and Nike. All sponsors, except Samsung and Adidas, scored significantly higher for brand attitude than their competitors. However, among all the sponsor brands, scores were significantly higher among respondents who correctly recognized the sponsor brand. Similarly, among the non-sponsor brands, scores were significantly higher among respondents who incorrectly identified the non-sponsor brand as a sponsor - except for Nokia.

As with the brand recommendation measure, the survey showed that where respondents correctly recognized a sponsor brand, or incorrectly identified non-sponsoring brands as sponsors, they had a more positive attitude towards the brand. Clearly for sponsoring brands, it is crucial to ensure high consumer awareness of their sponsorship to maximise their return on investment.

"Survey results suggest that the investment brands made in sponsoring the 2008 Beijing Olympics are possibly justified for most, but likely not all," concludes Steyn. "Millions of dollars were spent this year by the sponsors of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Our research indicates that most of these brands are enjoying improved recognition, attitudes towards their brand and brand recommendation. But there's a sting in the tail - it is not enough to be a sponsor - brands must take the initiative before, during, and after the event to communicate their leading role to consumers to make the most of the significant sums they have invested."

For further information, please contact:
Peter Steyn, Managing Director, Aha! Research

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Olympic ambushers end up winners

Olympic ambushers end up winners

We've all heard about the successful "ambush marketing" of companies like Li Ning (2331), which were able to create huge brand awareness during the Olympics despite not being official Olympic sponsors. But how many people were fooled?

Thursday, September 11, 2008
We've all heard about the successful "ambush marketing" of companies like Li Ning (2331), which were able to create huge brand awareness during the Olympics despite not being official Olympic sponsors. But how many people were fooled?

A lot more than you might think, according to Peter Steyn at Aha! Research. Aha! conducted a survey among 1,330 Chinese consumers randomly selected by an online consumer panel provided by Global Market Insite.

More than two-thirds of people surveyed thought Li Ning was an Olympic sponsor.

Companies didn't have to give jerseys to CCTV reporters in order to be winners at the Olympic marketing game.

China Life (2628) was successful, with 54 percent of Chinese consumers surveyed wrongly thinking it's an Olympic sponsor.

Fifty percent mistakenly thought Nike - which made Liu Xiang's iconic golden shoes - was a sponsor, and 41 percent said online portal was. wasn't, but rival Sohu was - a fact only realized by 46 percent.

So how much did Sohu have to pay for those 5 extra percentage points?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Grow your brand with only one measurement tool

Peter Steyn
Managing Director, Aha! Research
Hong Kong, September 6, 2008


Market researchers have been measuring the impact of word-of-mouth for ages by asking consumers a simple question: “How likely is it that you would recommend [brand X or company Y] to your friends, family or colleagues?” We have always known that this is an important measure, but now in the era of Online Buzz, it may very well be the most important measurement tool you need to grow your brand.

“Buzzmeister” - the master of their domain

Ty Braswell, former V.P. New Media at Virgin Records who managed online campaigns for artists including Lenny Kravitz and Janet Jackson, says “Developing an online buzz requires capturing the attention of folks I call ‘Key Multipliers. Their social status is connected to finding something really cool and passing the buzz on to their friends. They find new stuff, bring it to their not-so-online friends, and this role as ‘buzzmeister’ keeps them popular in their peer group. They are defined by what they hunt.”

Buzzmeisters are masters of their domains, or fields of expertise. The ‘gadget guru’, the ‘travel teamster’, the ‘high-quality hunter’ and the ‘value finder’ all declare with pride and joy that “I love it – and so will you”. Online Buzz is digital word-of-mouth and it is flourishing in online social media.

Social Media

Wikipedia defines Social Media as “...the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and ‘building’ of common meaning among communities, as people share their stories, and understandings.”

Word-of-mouth is no longer limited to gossip around the water-cooler or over the fence with neighbours. At the press of a button, Online Buzz via Social Media is global and brings with it both huge opportunities and major pitfalls for public relations, brand management, advertising and research professionals.

Bloggers are blogging and consumers are… advertising managers

A recent survey (May 2008) by Hong Kong-based Aha! Research and PR Consultancy firm, Text100, conducted among corporate news and technology bloggers across eight countries in Asia Pacific, found that 84% welcome information from PR firms and corporations. These bloggers prefer email and comments on their blog over other forms of contact. They want “opinionated responses by corporations to their blog posts“. It’s all about informal buzz rather than traditional marketing communications.

Informal online buzz can extend to consumers creating ads of their favoured or despised brands. These can generate a lot of media coverage for their innovation, creativity and audacity.

A recent California Management Review article, by Berthon P. et al, explores the factors that drive consumers to generate their own advertisements and the strategies available to companies to respond. The authors contend that the consumer is starting to run the show for marketers and the consequences are significant. Consumers are empowered with Online Buzz to make or break brands.

Good and bad Online Buzz

Happy consumers who truly own, nurture and promote a brand represent “good profits”. “Bad profits” are earned from customers who continue to purchase but who generate a negative and damaging buzz.

It is assumed that loyal customers keep purchasing a brand in the long term. Marketers have traditionally focused on loyalty and been satisfied with high scores of customer retention and continued purchasing as indicators. The problem is that various exit barriers such as price and marketing incentives may induce customers to continue purchasing even though they are unhappy with the brand. On the other hand, consumers who discontinue purchasing may not be unhappy with the brand but responding to other circumstances in their lives. Clearly, regular customers may not necessarily be solid drivers of growth.

If loyalty and customer retention are not good predictors of future growth or profitability what is?

A loyalist who is willing to put their own reputation on the line in recommending a brand to their friends, family and colleagues.

“Buzzmeisters” as “net brand promoters”

We need “promoters” who can drive positive buzz to take charge of our brands. Research by Reichheld FF, in the Harvard Business Review, shows a strong correlation between a brand’s growth rate and the percentage of its customers who are “promoters” of that brand. These “buzzmeisters” may be the most cost effective marketing managers for our brands.

Reichheld’s validated scale is a zero-to-ten semantic differential scale with “Extremely likely to recommend” at the one end and “Not at all likely to recommend” at the other end. Respondent answers are classified in the “promoters” of the brand, those who are “passively satisfied”, and those who are “detractors”. Subtracting the percentage of “detractors” from the “promoters” produces a “net promoter score”. It has been found that in most industries, this is the most important measurement and the one number you need to drive growth and profitability.

Calculating the one most important measure

Maintain a high level of reliability and reduce non-response bias by keeping your survey short and simple.
  1. Select a statistically valid sample of your customers, and ask them the all important question: “How likely is it that you would recommend [brand x or company y] to your friends, family or colleagues?”
  2. Subtract the percentage of “detractors” from the percentage of “promoters” to determine your “net promoter score”.
  3. Benchmark this score against your other brands, other branches, sales representatives, customer segments or whatever other factors make sense such as your competitors’ brands.
  4. Focus your marketing initiatives on improving your “net promoter score”.
Customer equity drives brand equity. Building brand “promoters” and converting “detractors” are key strategies for achieving sustainable brand growth. Monitoring and managing this one important number, in the era of Online Buzz, is now more important than ever.