Brand performance and bridging the digital divide

When you work in emerging markets for a few years, you lose track of the type of measurements that one is accustomed to in more mature markets. Brand health is one such measure.

For years I have used Neilsen/ Millward Brown/ Ipsos methodology that spits out a Brand Equity Index with the quarterly variance of emotional and functional brand attributes.

But the difficulty in getting a true picture of holistic brand health (offline and ONLINE) is becoming increasingly apparent.

You see – like most telcos – we are turning the tables on MarComm spend to be more weighted for online. Leading markets can achieve a ratio of 10% offline and 90% online spend (and indeed some markets I have been exposed to can achieve 100% online and nil offline spend). Of course, you can only ‘afford’ to do so if you have a higher than 100% penetration of smartphones and a very healthy trend of mobile data traffic.

In Cambodia we still have about 30-40% feature phone usage and while mobile internet usage is increasing we still need to capture awareness in rural areas with TVC, Billboards and Radio. So we are trying to go for a 60/40 split in offline vs online spend this year, and then a 70/30 split in the not-so-distant future.

So the difficulty is getting a measure of our holistic brand health knowing that some of our campaigns never see the light of offline. And in some months, our digital performance is through the roof but our brand health report says otherwise.

One way we have tried to increase accuracy of brand performance is to cut the data in urban vs rural, then youth vs non-youth and online vs offline.

We can see how online urban youth perceive our brand vs rural, offline non-youth. But it’s still not enough to give credit where credit’s due for high performing digital campaigns when overall Brand Equity is mediocre.

Question to all brand gurus out there. How does your Brand Health Tracker bridge the digital divide to give an accurate holistic measure of your brand health and equity? Particularly those who can manage a MarComm spend ratio of about 30% offline and 70% online? Is it a matter of doing two sets of brand measures – one for offline and one for online? And does testing online require a formula of reach and engagement vs spend, awareness and likability? Very interested in hearing how we can get a firm picture of our online brand equity because, well… our brand will be living more and more online. Makes sense right?



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