15 July 2008

What drives Booz's brand analytics tool?

Booz&co have ventured into the small but under-estimated brand valuation market with the launch of a brand vitality assessment tool designed to help failing brands redefine themselves..

The announcement comes off the back of Millward Brown's recent alliance with Brazil’s leading brand valuation consultancy, Brand Analytics, designed to complement its Optimor evaluation and measurement products in the South America market.

It also signals the tendency for global brand and business consultancies to merge strategy and engagement with valuation and analytics off the back of increasing client demands for transparency and justification in spend.

In the latest issue of Strategy and Business, Booz&co cite the success of revitalized brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, Johnnie Walker, Olay, and Ford’s Mustang as evidence that the success or otherwise of brand revitalisation and brand extension has been traditionally driven by "instinct and an appetite for risk".

Booz claims its new tool kit provides "data-driven analytics" to minimize the risk associated with these kinds of decisions. Called the Brand Vitality Assessment (BVA) and sounding much like Y&R's Brand Asset Valuation (BAV), it says it examines every aspect of a brand including communications strategy, pricing and the state of its competitors to reveal how much life is left in the name.

Booz's BVA is supposed to help companies "identify latent value — or the lack thereof — in their product portfolios before deciding what to do" or in other words, what the brand equity is. No surprises here and hardly different from their competitors.

Booz's BVA process is based on a brand having what they describe as "residual strengths" such as brand associations, the potential for or meaningful differentiation on at least one purchase driver and basic distribution infrastructure to support the revitalization.

It uses four related evaluations that incorporate consumer (where hoping that B2B hasn't been ignored here) research to create a holistic and data-driven view of how the brand is currently performing in the marketplace.

The evaluations seem fairly qualitative rather than quantitative and Booz is unable to cite any examples of what kind of measures are actually made and what kind of data is produced. Further, they don't provide any evidence of any brands they have worked with that have employed quantitative measures but apply only market share figures as demonstrations of how the process works.

The four evaluations appear almost entirely qualitative. They are:

1. The Purchase Funnel Assessment (PFA) is just another way to evaluate the purchase decision process and from DIFFUSION's experience this is generally qualitative as it relies on customer assessment from awareness to point of purchase.

2. The Brand Equity Review (BER) is designed measure residual brand equity and loyalty within the target customer segment. While it might identify the brand’s attributes, one would think these would be known and those attributes which have been eroded or been rendered irrelevant by competitors, again this seems more qualitative measure.

3. Competitive Dynamics Assessment (CDA) is a look at which competitors are taking away market share, why, and how easily the problems could be rectified.

4. Value Proposition Check (VPC, I suppose) analyses the brand’s benefits including marketing communications and pricing. It includes standard brand attributes and benefits check built around the functional, emotional and expressive against consumer, competitor, and internal perspectives. Nothing new here.

Booz's so-called Brand Vitality Potential (let's call it BVP and not sure how it snuck in) is the final evaluation, where the "cold hard facts, as uncovered by the previous four analyses, come into play". I guess this is where we might see some numbers.

Booz says the BVA is "not a panacea for tired brands" but that it offers is "a rigorous, data-driven approach to deciding a brand’s future" except we don't know what the real data is except it's all qualitative.

Booz could do well to state whether any other quantitative measurements are being used such as total market shares, sales by segment against overall PE ratios and how these are applied by the BVA. What scoring tools will be used? How will one tool be used against another? What are the weightings? If any?

More importantly, how will the assessment be reported and by whom and within what framework, particularly from the point of view of brand stretch and brand extension.

Then there are the issues of brand redefinition, activation and engagement, which follow on from such work. Booz and for that matter few other consultancies, have little capability or experience doing this kind of work despite talking about it and claiming it. The article cites no projects they have worked on this area, just suppose sos.

That there are so few consultancies and their clients who have undertaken these kind of complete lifecycle projects following a brand valuation, says much about the the general market wlllingness to understand the process behind brand creation and to make the actual investment required to revitalise dormant brands as it does about the abilities of the consultancies they use. The one's who have done it and been successful have obviously understood this from the outset.

Image courtesy of Chronicle Books.