The Elephant in the Room!

blind_men_and_the_elephant

I am a 90s kid, & proud! A generation that has grown up on numerous inspiring anecdotes. As marketing-student, one of the stories keep coming back to me. The one wherein six blind men try and determine what an elephant is like by feeling its different parts. The perceptions of the elephant, though legitimate individually, fail to convey the true entire picture! This leads to conflicting opinion, where nobody is wrong, but nobody is right either. (Polytab Attribution, 2015)

This story, in my opinion, reflects the system of Marketing evaluation, where the actual performance highly differs from the various metrics of its measurement, which are correct but not enough!

Marketing evaluation is a technique to assess the success or failure of the marketing strategies through the measurement of a plethora of performance metrics. A metric is a measurement tool that helps companies quantify, compare and interpret their own performances for self-improvement (Farris, 2010). These metrics cover various attributes of performance like the financial element, buying behavior, brand-awareness, memory, customer-profile, marketing activities etc. (Sharp, 2013)

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But having said that, what is the that, prime attribute in which a company that HAS to score? Numerous debates have been held on determining the ‘silver metric’ for the sake of convenience(Lamest 2016). But would a single metric be good-enough judge for all the companies? Performance measures are highly subjective owing to their sensitivity towards the Company-goals.

Ellie Mirman, the vice president of Marketing at Toast rightfully states “You could optimize the heck of a particular metric, but it may have zero impact on the company” (Robins, 2016) i.e. Feel up the animal all you want, but if you still call it a snake, what’s the point?

Let’s discuss one of these metrics to evaluate if they can be independently capable of measuring a firm’s performance- the memory metrics. Now are there brands that score meritoriously in all the parameters under memory metrics? Believe it or not, there are!

Kleenex- what comes to mind when we hear of the word in Australia? The memories of wiping your best-friend’s tears on a breakup? That inevitable flu season? Or maybe the cleaning-up after a sneaky midnight snack? It’s been ages since somebody has asked me for a ‘tissue’, the word has been completely replaced by the brand-name and has found its way into our day-to-day lives.

all-kleenexes

This concept, demonstrated by Kleenex is called ‘verbification’ of brand. It happens when a brand reaches its epitome of recognition. Other examples of verbification are Xerox, Q-tips, Hoover, Band-Aid etc. Surprise-surprise! Each of these are brand-names!

The brand has taken their marketing very seriously to imprint themselves strongly in the minds of their consumers. The following initiatives acted as catalysts in their effort to do so (referralcandy.com, 2016):

  1. The good guy image: it established itself as a firm supporter of goodness within people with its emotionally scintillating campaigns
  2. “The last Kleenex” ad promotes a sense of community (Neff, 2014) Along with “Time for a change” campaign, which went beyond just the product with its emotional content making you reach out for one!!
  3. #KleenexCare resented instances of people sharing a pack of Kleenex during the flu season
  4. Creation of “Softness worth Sharing” Campaign where people sent free Kleenex packs to friends

With the above, they encouraged a viral word-of-mouth, with a high-degree of trust, coming from friends and family. Words like goodness, generosity, family, comfort are associated with the brand by this generation that has grown up essentially in the presence of a box of Kleenex. The verbification has led rival brands to slowly fade away!

Having acknowledged that, how does it fare in terms of memory-metrics? Let’s compare with the parameters- Brand awareness? Check. Brand-image associations? Check. Mental availability? Check. Customer satisfaction & attraction? Check. Score!! Now back to our original argument, Does the metric individually signify perfection?

Ironically, the very concept of “anthimeria”is highly toxic! Its takes away the identity, individuality of the Brand making it but a generic-term! This kind of ignorance also counter-benefits the competitors. Thus this kind of magnificent presence also backfires!!

Furthermore, the famously conceived silver metric- financial, has itself  has been doubted for its credibility with experts calling it ‘misleading’, ‘unreliable’. Same goes for the other metrics too, as all of the over/under-estimated metrics have their fair share of impediments which bar an evaluator from truly comprehending the actual outcome.

Performance is multidimensional, superior performance against one objective cannot be easily traded off against lack of performance on another, with multiple goals come multiple performance measures (Ambler & Roberts, 2005) Thus a correct extrapolation of goals, combined with the appropriate mix of the metrics with varying degrees of priority, would help us assess and evaluate company’s performance in true sense.

Remember, as potential marketing executives, we are here for the real bigger picture! So keep a look out for not a wall, a snake, a tree trunk or whatever, but for the entire elephant in the room!

 

STUDENT NAME: Saie Joshi

STUDENT ID- 216004961

 

References

Ambler, T. & Roberts, J. (2005). Beware The Silver Metric: Marketing Performance Measurement Has To Be Multidimensional. Centre for Marketing Working Paper.

Farris, P. (2010). Marketing metrics. Upper Saddle River, N.J. FT Press.

Lamest, M. (2016).The Role of Marketing Metrics and Financial metrics in Guiding Top-leel Management. School of Business. Trinity College, Dublin.

Neff, J. (2014). Kleenex Encourages Simple Acts of Tissue Sharing.

Polytab Attribution. (2015). These two common marketing metrics are misleading digital marketers & hurting bottom lines – Polytab Attribution.

Robins, S. (2016). Don’t get tangled in marketing metrics. SearchCRM.ReferralCandy. (2016). How Kleenex Increased Stock Value 3 Times Within 5 Years Via Word-of- Mouth – Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog.

Sharp, B. (2013). Marketing Metrics. Marketing: Theory, Evidence, Practice. Oxford University Press.

 

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