Magazine article Marketing

One World; Many Visions

Magazine article Marketing

One World; Many Visions

Article excerpt

Going global? Harriot Lane Fox takes a second look at EquiTrend's six consumer models, their attitudes and preferred media. So is this all you need to know?

Agency alert: "Photographic giant Kodak weighs up potential global corporate image campaign."

Chinese whispers sped through New York and across the Atlantic last week telling of millions of dollars up for grabs. That Total Research hasn't jumped up to say "I told you so", is a tribute to its self-control.

For Kodak photographic film is one of the first batch of brands newly defined by Total Research as World Class.

The company has operated its EquiTrend survey of consumer brand quality perception in the US since 1988 and this year launched it in the UK (Marketing, June 22). Kodak is currently top-rated of 200 American brands and comes in at number ten here.

Jim Alleborn, senior vice-president (consumer research division), explains: "Such perceptions of quality indicate that a brand has such widespread acceptance that virtually all market segments in each country place it among the highest quality brands in their respective brandscapes."

Paul Galazka is European marketing director of Duracell, UK number nine and another World Class Brand.

"Eighty per cent to 90% of what drives the perception of quality in the US and the UK is the same," he agrees. "The positioning is effectively identical: the longer-lasting battery."

But such insights are a distillation of closer analysis at country level. Total Research began by asking the British sample to rank 173 brands on quality. It then used the results to break consumers up according to portfolios of preferences, pinpointing each group's favourite media and the marketing messages to which they respond.

Status-seekers, for example, go for BMW, Reebok and Esso. They read the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, The People, Exchange &Mart, Auto Express and Q. TV preferences are Sky Movies, Sky Sport and ITV.

They are also quick to try new technologies, often shop at cash & carries - but avoid own-label, and are prepared to give telemarketers a chance.

But market research is a polemical business. One sceptic goes so far as to challenge EquiTrend's basic assumption: that people's subconscious quality swingometer works the same way for every type of purchase.

Andrew Roberts is technical director at research giant AGB: "As Shakespeare said, one man in his time plays many parts. The trick is to understand the driving factors in a sector that mean quality."

Advertising, for example, has long subscribed to the risk factor as the main prompt. Will it do what it's supposed to? What will others think if they see me using it?

The value of boxing Homo sapiens up into categories - self-gratifiers, conventionals, etc - is another hot potato.

"One thing that does sound potentially quite good is that it doesn't treat people en masse," says Paul Feldwick, executive director of planning at ad agency BMP DDB Needham. "But a lot of assumptions in this kind of modelling are quite contentious. It's easy to get numbers and massage them."

Wendy Gordon, chairman of The Research Business, is very cautious: "Statistical clusters are neat and newsworthy. But it's very difficult for marketing. There are a lot of people who don't fit. The gap between the conceptualisation and reality is wide."

Total Research naturally disagrees. It contends that conventionals, for instance, have a notion of quality rooted in old-fashioned, cautious, domestic imagery and that this is what makes them go for brands as diverse as Prudential, Hoover and Safeway. …

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