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The Sweet Spot - BrandCare


									The Sweet Spot
The 5,473 midscale/upscale consumers in this study were weighted to reflect
their “lifetime value” by

Taking their HH income and…

Multiplying by 80 minus their age (so a 30 year old making $100,000 would, for
instance, have twice the lifetime value of a 55 year old making $100,000) and…

Multiplying by their years of education minus ten (so, a person with 18 years of
education – a masters? – would have twice the value as a person with 14 years,
e.g. two year community college degree)

The education factor was added for several reasons, including being
compensation for the lower income of relatively young, highly educated people
who are in a position to experience sharp future income gains; and to reflect the
arguably greater influence of well-educated people on (other) affluent people.

All that being said, the profile of the aspirations (how midscale/upscale people
want to be seen by others) of these consumers after this “lifetime value”
weighting did not change dramatically from the un-weighted version.

On a tradeoff scale where the values varied from about 16 (Intelligent) to 7
(fashionable), or nine points from most- to least aspired-for personal trait, the
weighting did not alter the importance of any attribute by as much as a full point.

                         Brand Care LLC           Page 1 of 8
                                               Trait Aspiration Scores
                Intelligent                                                                     15.7
                   Caring                                                                    15.1
                 Genuine                                                                    15.0
            Fun to be with                                                                 14.7
               Successful                                                      12.4
                 Creative                                                     12.2
                Attractive                                                   11.9
              Resourceful                                                   11.7
                 Practical                                              10.8
                   Unique                                              10.7
                Energetic                                              10.7
               Innovative                                          9.9
          Environmentally…                                        9.1
                 Spiritual                                      9.0
              Economical                                       8.7
                 Youthful                                    8.3
                 Carefree                                7.6
               Traditional                              7.4           Demographically weights only
            Sophisticated                               7.4
                                                                      Higher income, younger, better
             Fashionable                             6.8
                                                       7.2            educated people given higher weight

Not surprisingly, being seen as Successful was more important (+0.8) when the
highest valued consumers were given appropriately greater weight. Being seen
as Sophisticated jumped slightly more – 0.9 points – but remained a second- or
third-tier aspiration (8.3) in absolute terms.

Of course, it has to be remembered that the whole sample consists of
“desirables” (average HH income $88,000, 18-54), so that this weighting was
simply further skewing a desirable, skewed group.

In terms of aspirations of users, the 653 brands can be matched attribute by
attribute against this psychological/positioning “sweet spot” -- to see which
brands have a user group that comes closest to matching the weighted aspiration
profile of this sought-after market sector.

Ignoring brands that may be passive matches because of geography/
convenience/ corporate policy (airlines, banks, gasoline brands – we have left in
the lodging brands but an argument could be made to exclude them as well…),
the Top 15 brands in hitting the Sweet Spot are:

                              Brand Care LLC                    Page 2 of 8
1. The NBA. People always say that David Stern is a marketing wizard, who
   drives basketball purists crazy…
2. eBay
3. Neutrogena
4. Levi
5. Staples
6. Godiva
7. Ben & Jerry’s
8. Marriott
9. Hilton
10. Haagen-Daaz
11. iPod
12. The Wall Street Journal
13. Summer Olympics
14. Vitaminwater
15. Sony

                                      Trait Aspiration Scores
           Intelligent                                                                       16.1
             Genuine                                                                   15.0
              Caring                                                                  14.6
       Fun to be with                                                                14.5
          Successful                                                          13.2
           Attractive                                                    12.0
             Creative                                                    12.0
         Resourceful                                                   11.6
           Energetic                                               10.9
              Unique                                              10.6
            Practical                                             10.5
           Innovative                                            10.3
      Environmentally…                                    9.2
         Economical                                  8.4
             Spiritual                               8.4
        Sophisticated                                8.3
            Youthful                                8.2
                                             7.2                             Weighted Total
         Fashionable                         7.2
                                             7.2                             NBA Fans
            Carefree                         7.1
          Traditional                       6.9

                         Brand Care LLC                          Page 3 of 8
Remember, we are talking about the psychological aspirations -- as expressed by
how people would like to be seen (with brands often a powerful mode of self-
communication) of the wealthy, young, educated consumer.

That is the Sweet Spot Positioning.

The study further shows that as a brand approaches the Sweet Spot:

      The general affection level for the brand tends to rise
      The satisfaction level of users (“customer satisfaction”) tends to rise
      The size of the brand in terms of purchase/usage tends to increase
      The stock performance of the company owning the brand also may

Using the sports leagues as an example, we see from the bar chart that the NBA
is almost perfectly aligned with the Sweet Spot. Its largest “weakness” from a
hard-boiled marketing perspective (slightly high on Spiritual) is minor and
probably inconsequential. The Summer Olympics has a slightly more
consequential gap on being seen as Successful – its viewers tend to be
somewhat low on this kind of ambition. MLB’s most glaring weakness is a
modest tendency to be less interested in personal attractiveness (a certain minor
“slobbish” tendency?). The Winter Olympics are even more associated with
desire for to be seen as Spiritual than the NBA.

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Based on the data, NCAA Football may be inadequately associated with a
personal desire to be Unique and Sophisticated (therefore, a certain bland
conformism?), while NCAA Basketball is too associated with least-desired (of the
20 attributes) Traditionalism, and also appears low on Sophistication.

The NFL appears to combine too much Tradition with too little Sophistication and
too much Carefree-ness (reckless behavior of the players on, and the fans off, the
field?). Like the NFL, NASCAR draws users who miss the sweet spot by over-
valuing of Carefree-ness (tailgating excesses of both sorts?) and Tradition –
juxtaposed with inadequate focus (from a Sweet Spot perspective) on looking
good (Attractiveness) and being Successful.

The NHL indexes somewhat low on desire to be seen as Caring (too many
thuggish fights?) and, like the NCAA, too high on Tradition.

World Team Tennis is off the charts in terms of positive association with
Fashionableness and a consequent weakness in association with highly-
important Genuineness; a reasonable pairing since Fashion may be seen as a
form of posturing.

                        Brand Care LLC           Page 5 of 8
Surprisingly, the PGA appears inadequately associated with Intelligence and
Uniqueness (its viewers/spectators tending to be lightweight conformists?) and
too much (from an amoral Sweet Spot perspective) with Fashion (those golfing
outfits) and Spirituality. In a very surprising finding, LPGA involvement is
associated with lower aspiration to be seen as Intelligent and Caring – a crippling
tandem according to the Sweet Spot, where these are the two most crucial
values. It might be hypothesized that many women who follow this sport are, or
fantasize being “jocks”, and may reject association with some traditional
feminine aspirations.

But not all deviations from the Sweet Spot may have adverse consequences. In
fact, the case seems to be that being hyper-associated with aspirations for the
most desired traits – Intelligence, Genuineness, Caring, being Fun to be with,
Successfulness, Attractiveness, Creativity – may actually be associated with
additional benefits in terms of consumer esteem, loyalty, and brand success in
the stock market or on Wall Street.

In the case of the sports, there are no examples of a sport exceeding the Sweet
Spot on one these “Very Sweet” attributes by as much as a single point.

Examples of Sweet Spot brands (Top 100 in closeness to the Sweet Spot) that at
least slightly over-deliver Intelligence are The Wall Street Journal, Levi’s, and
Godiva. Hilton is a Sweet Spot brand with a slight hyper-association with
Genuineness, while Disney Channel hyper-delivers people who aspire to be
Caring. PowerAde and Fisher-Price are Sweet Spot brands with a hyper-
association with Fun.

Perhaps as or more importantly, there appears to be a possible additional benefit
(sales, esteem, satisfaction) to under-delivering (below Sweet Spot levels) least-
desired attributes – with Traditionalism, Carefree-ness (in these troubled times),
Fashionableness, Youthfulness, and Sophistication leading the way.

Here we have some Sports examples. Sports Illustrated over-delivers
Traditionalism (as measured by the aspirations of the people it attracts) but
under-delivers Sophistication – an offsetting tradeoff that leaves the brand in a
good position overall. And NCAA Basketball and the NFL may actually benefit a
bit from their under-delivery of Sophistication.

Now the purpose of this article is not to say that variation from the Sweet Spot is
categorically (or ethically/morally) a bad thing. For one thing, if every brand
strived to reach that spot, niche audiences that have atypical aspirations would
be starved for brands. All of the brands mentioned in this article are successful
in terms of having a viable business. The best financial rewards may be at the

                         Brand Care LLC           Page 6 of 8
Sweet Spot (or in hyper-moves beyond it that have been mentioned), but if all
brands were positioned there they would leave vast portions of the consumer
space empty of the idiosyncratically attractive offerings desired by its denizens.

Further, even with the right psychological positioning, a brand has to deliver in
an effective way. Using the NBA as an example, its audience may be spot-on who
it needs to be to maximize success – but still its product lags behind the Summer
Olympics and especially the NFL in terms of being highly satisfying to its

                                                             Brand Affection
                                     NFL (86%)                                                                       5.37                   5.94
                       Summer Olympics (80%)                                                                        5.33             5.76
                          NCAA Football (72%)                                                     4.94                              5.71
                                   ESPN (86%)                                                                        5.35           5.70
                        NCAA Basketball (74%)                                                  4.80                                5.67
                        Sports Illustrated (85%)                                                      4.97                   5.54
                          Boston Celtics (62%)                                   4.47                                       5.51
                                    MLB (77%)                                                          5.01                 5.51
                                NASCAR (80%)                                    4.42                                       5.50
                                    NBA (79%)                                           4.64                           5.45
                                    PGA (63%)                                   4.44                                   5.45
                                     NHL (71%)                                   4.47                                  5.45
                         Boston Red Sox (63%)                            4.27                                         5.41
                                     MLS (56%)                         4.17                                           5.39
                    Los Angeles Dodgers (66%)                             4.30                                        5.38
                         Winter Olympics (79%)                                                           5.10         5.38
                       World Cup Soccer (60%)                                   4.43                                 5.38
                       New York Yankees (72%)                                    4.48                                5.34
          Manchester United Football Club (29%)                                  4.48                               5.31
                         Tampa Bay Rays (50%)                          4.17                                    5.23
                                   LPGA (53%)                       4.15                                       5.23
                      Los Angeles Lakers (65%)                           4.28                                5.15
                    New England Patriots (68%)                         4.20                             5.07
                     Philadelphia Phillies (59%)                       4.19                             5.05
                      World Team Tennis (29%)                             4.29                        5.00             User Affection
                                  WNBA (61%)                    4.00                                  4.99
                                                                                                                       General Affection
                           Chicago Cubs (67%)                                 4.35               4.88
                                     PBA (47%)                           4.24                   4.86

               *Substantive Familiarity off total base who were exposed to brand shown in parentheses

                                Brand Care LLC                           Page 7 of 8
So Sweet Spot positioning is one factor that is very critical to a brand’s ultimate
financial success, but there are many others such as product quality, size of
target market, breadth of product line, quality and amount of distribution, and so

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