How to measure Brand Salience

Jenni Romaniuk and I developed the concept we called Brand Salience as “the propensity of the brand to be noticed or come to mind in buying situations”.

So how do we think this construct should be measured ?

Salience is cue dependent, it is based on the memories associated with the brand, and so different cues have different tendency to elicit the brand. To measure salience we need to get a handle on these cues. Traditional awareness measures (top of mind etc) share the common failing that they use only one single cue and that is the name of the product category. This single cue can’t tell us about the propensity of the brand to come to mind in real world buying where a substantial range of cues can trigger noticing/recall of the brand.

Fortunately we don’t need to measure consumers reactions to the full vast range cues. In the same way we don’t need to sample everyone in China to know the Chinese view on a particular topic, we just need a smaller representative sample. We just need a sample of cues, a sample of brand associations.

We set out the characteristics for choosing cues in Report 41 for corporate members of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute. We also explain how to measure these brand associations. To then test if the selection and number of cues is adequate to measure Salience we expect the distribution of survey responses to follow the same distribution of repeat-buying of brands (NBD-Dirichlet). This is because we expect Brand Salience to have the same structure as individuals’ brand buying repertoires. So this statistical distribution can be used to shape the set of brand attributes.

So most brand perception tracking surveys can be adapted to measure Brand Salience. The biggest fault we find with existing brand tracking surveys is that they have an emphasis on evaluation, so contain many attributes that don’t measure memory but rather measure attitude (which means they measure past usage). It also means they have a great deal of redundancy. All of this can be fixed.

In addition to the group of attributes that are used to measure Brand Salience, we encourage adding some descriptive assets to track the brand’s distinctive assets (e.g. tone, colours, logos, slogans, characters). These can’t be used in the Salience measure because they skew substantially to particular brands (e.g. American or red for Coca-cola) and so bias the estimate.  But there is value in measuring these perceptions because they allow communication to be branded (and therefore build salience) and these cues are used by consumers in noticing brands.

Corporate members who are interested in measuring Brand Salience, or mining their tracking data to produce Salience metrics should contact Jenni.


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