In Search of True Brand Equity Metrics: All Market Share Ain't Created Equal

Thomas J. Reynolds
Professor Emeritus University of Texas at Dallas

Carol B. Phillips
BrandAmplitude, LLC


Much has been written of late about the holy grail of marketing, measuring the Return on Investment of Marketing dollars (ROI-M). The topic is certainly not a new one, especially as evidenced in the frequency of board room discussions on the topic. Recent interest has been driven by development of more sophisticated technologies for collecting the required quantities of customer level data that provide the basis to estimate such a statistic. We appear to be approaching the day when it will be possible to confidently measure the formerly elusive contribution of marketing to business success.

To illustrate the importance of this effort, the latest collaboration between P&G, VNU, and Arbitron is being billed as the “nirvana tool” (Advertising Age, 2004b). It promises to harness the enormous quantities of data from Nielsen's Home Scan customer panel purchase data and marry it with media activity at the customer level. But the question remains, marketing's contribution to “what”? The buzz surrounding ROI-M inevitably must lead to an examination of what it is we are hoping to find once the grail is discovered, namely the mysteries of “brand equity.” Over time, this construct has become ever more important as the key to understanding the objectives, the mechanisms, and especially the net impact of the holistic impact of marketing. This article suggests the conceptual basis upon which foundation of ROI-M must be predicated, “true” brand equity.