Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Brand Tracking: How Coca-Cola Found Their Olympic Feeling

On TMRE Day 3, in the Macro Trends track, Coca-Cola Brazil detailed how they’d drawn inspiration from behavioral science to meet the challenge of the Rio Olympics. Coke’s Patricia Fonesca  faced a problem any big brand will be familiar with – how do you measure marketing effectiveness when you have so many different sources of information on your brand and your business that it’s almost impossible to piece them together?

The answer, according to Fonesc a and research agency BrainJuicer, is not ever-larger datasets. “Your data is probably already big enough,” said BrainJuicer’s Gabriel Aleixo. Instead, you need to transform the way you think about consumer behaviour. You must look at consumers for who they are – people making quick, emotional decisions at a “System 1” level. 

By adopting a new model of human behaviour based on this truth, Coca-Cola looked to improve their ability to predict performance.

Their new model had its roots in work starting in 2013, designed to track the long-run up to the 2014 World Cup, held in Brazil. Coca-Cola moved away from metrics like ad recall, purchase intent and brand attributes – “system 2” measures that demanded too much consumer memory and self-knowledge. Instead it tracked emotional response and simple recognition of campaigns as the best way to establish how consumers were reacting to touchpoints in real time.

For the Rio Olympics, Coca-Cola scaled up this marketing effort and added a new dimension – a simple way of tracking brands based on Fame, Feeling and Fluency, the core heuristics that lie behind System 1 decision making. Fame is familiarity – if a brand comes readily to mind, it’s a good choice. Feeling is positive emotion – if you feel good about a brand, it’s a good choice. And Fluency is ease of recognition and distinctiveness – if you recognise a brand or its ‘distinctive assets’ (like red for Coca-Cola) quickly, it’s a good choice.

These three core metrics, according to Coca-Cola, are all you need to know to understand brand performance: they predict 85% of market performance, and also forecast future share and the brand’s ability to charge a price premium. 

Coca-Cola is a ‘5-Star brand’ in Brazil, according to the model, with sky-high Fame and Fluency. But it faces a constant battle to maintain the level of Feeling its status demands – fail to make people happy, and a brand can quickly become a dinosaur. “Why are brand feelings so vital?” asked Fonesca, “They are a lever of market share gains.”

Coca-Cola's campaign was designed to boost Feeling.

To keep Feeling high, Coke needed great emotional marketing, and it needed reach. Despite the rise of social media, even for younger Brazilians TV is an incredibly important medium and a guarantor of reach. The brand came up with a winning emotional idea – “what does gold feel like?” which performed brilliantly in emotional testing: a true 5-Star ad. With the real-time tracking, Coca-Cola could see that 20 million people were being touched a day by the brand during the Rio Olympics, and that 3 out of 4 Brazilians had seen the ads. That kind of massive reach is what a large brand has to aspire to in order to maintain its dominant position.

For Coca-Cola, the investment in emotional marketing paid off. The brand saw its Feeling scores reach unprecedented levels during the Olympics, and this showed up in two ways. First, of every brand in every category, Coke was the brand with the highest Olympic association. And second, higher Feeling led to brand growth, as the brand’s tracked share rose by 1.5 points.

Coca-Cola credited this success to two key factors. First, a really powerful core creative idea (the “gold” campaign). And second, the real-time intelligence to guide them so they knew where and when to move their efforts between channels. For instance, their real-time tracking helped them realise that packaging was the key to communicating that creative idea - an insight they might not otherwise have reached.

And how could other brands take advantage of behavioural science to modernise or reinvent tracking? The presentation ended with three key thoughts.

First, focus on the basics of decision making, and remember it’s fast and frugal, not complex and reasoned.

Second, make sure brand tracker insights always lead to action – maximise impact with simple metrics delivered at speed.

Third, make brand trackers accountable. Simply tying them to equity measures isn’t enough – they must relate to real business results.

Get those things right, and the tracking gold medal could be yours.

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