Business leaders can now find out whether their brands are felt to be cool and how much emotional heat it contains as a measure of future business success. Results from a recent study in the beer and spirits categories are described below to illustrate the new insights available by measuring cool.
Not since the launch of Net Promoter Score™ and Interbrand’s Best Global Brand Study measurement, has a more profound tool been developed that enables leaders to make better business decisions and compete more efficiently and effectively. Today there is too much noise, too much clutter and too many choices for customers to navigate in virtually every category. When a brand evokes the characteristics of cool it stands out and drives consumption. For brand owners and innovators it has been increasingly difficult to differentiate, on functional features and benefits, to get ahead of competitive brands and private label. The accumulated research on quantifying cool by Buyology Inc has demonstrated:
- Cool is a key driver of brand favorability across a wide spectrum of product and service categories.
- Cool is relevant and important to all age groups, although what is considered to be cool may vary by age.
- Cool brands have different characteristic patterns.
- Cool is more reliably measured through non-conscious methods, where perception and intuition operate in our thinking.
While research has attempted to measure cool through traditional cognitive measures, our research suggests these measurements are unreliable. Cool, like love and trust, is an emotion that is processed in our deeper non-conscious thinking. Daniel Kahneman, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, describes the importance of non-conscious thinking this way, “It is more influential than your experience tells you and is the secret author of many choices and judgments that consumers make.”
In Buyology’s recent study, nine beer brands were measured among 525 men and women in the U.S. ranging in age from 20 -60 years old. The purpose of the research was to survey consumers on the intensity of cool and brand favorability and secondarily, to rate the brands on ten characteristics of cool. The quantitative data was collected through Buyology’s proprietary MindLink™ methodology to obtain a non-conscious response to the survey questions using a forced-choice model. The ranking of the nine beer brands is listed here:
Based on the results of the ranking, there may be a tendency to assume that mass-market brands like Budweiser and Coors are less cool because they are large and mainstream. However, untangling cool on a variety of characteristics reveals that brands and categories have different patterns of cool and therefore leverage unique dimensions to connect to consumers.
These dimensions were measured in the second portion of the MindLink™ Cool Test where respondents were asked to evaluate the beer brands on ten characteristics associated with cool: “Authentic”, “Inspiring”, “Creative”, “Attractive”, “Edgy”, “Rebellious”, “Surprising”, “Mysterious”, “Unique”, and “Takes Risks”. By measuring the characteristics of cool, the brand’s unique cool pattern in the category is revealed and the strengths and weaknesses can be understood.
Among the alcohol brands, Absolut vodka has a significantly higher cool score than many beers, including Bud Light. A comparison of some of the cool characteristics for the two brands is shown below, illustrating the different pattern expressed by each. Authentic is the number one cool attribute for both brands, but the rating is higher for Absolute at 30.4 compared to 18.1 for Bud Light. The brands also differ on other dimensions of cool and the strength of the score. Understanding a brand’s unique cool pattern is important information to inform business decisions and optimize customer engagement.
Targeting consumers based on their response to cool by age and other attitudes or behaviors can be revealing. The chart below compares the cool ranking of Absolut vodka versus Budweiser and Bud Light beers. Among the young target group, Absolut is rated number one on cool by both men and women, ahead of Budweiser and Bud Light.
Accurately measuring cool is the next big idea in business. There is a substantial commercial opportunity to build cool into every category (from food to technology) to improve the relationship with consumers and drive future sales. The common belief is that being cool is hard, takes a long time and isn’t for everyone. Buyology’s research says that being distinctively cool is essential and a powerful amplifier across the entire value chain.
Taking the step to measure and manage your brand’s cool stats will give you an immediate advantage to excite your current and potential customers and add thrust to your business. Additional results on cool are available at buyology.com. The MindLink ™ Cool Test can also be used to evaluate packaging, advertising and other communication to ensure alignment across the marketing mix to your brand’s unique cool pattern.
image credit: thermometer image from bigstock
Donna Sturgess is the President and Co-founder of Buyology Inc and former Global Head of Innovation for GlaxoSmithKline. Her latest book is Eyeballs Out: How To Step Into Another World, Discover New Ideas, and Make Your Business Thrive. Follow on Twitter: @donnasturgess