Holding on to the Past: The Good and the Bad

My 10-year-old son recently discovered the joy of watching “The Andy Griffith Show.” As I watched an episode with my son, I received far more pleasure watching his reactions than I did from the show. One of the reasons for my response is the good feeling I got that my son was being entertained by a show that had done the same for me when I was his age. As a marketer, it reinforced the power that nostalgia can have as a connection point with consumers. Nostalgia can remind us of younger days, simpler times, or a place that we never experienced but longed to understand. I think of the retro-architectural designs of many new professional baseball stadiums today that give a nod to the physical appearance of baseball parks a century ago. Building a bridge to the past with a product or experience today can be a persuasive emotional hook to attract customers.

Beware, though, as the past can be a dangerous place to look for marketing ideas. At about the same time I was reflecting on my son’s attraction to classic TV, I read an article by Pat LaPointe titled “SOV is DOA.” He cautions against use of a measure of marketing effectiveness known as Share of Voice (SOV). This measure compares a brand’s measured advertising spending to the entire category’s ad spend. The assumption has been that a brand’s SOV should mirror its market share. For example, if a brand has an 8% market share, it should have at least an 8% share of voice. The logic of the SOV/market share relationship is understandable, but does that mean we should be concerned with our SOV? How does it translate to building and nurturing customer relationships?

The title of Pat LaPointe’s article says it all: SOV is DOA. While LaPointe addresses a specific measure of marketing effectiveness, the takeaway from his piece is a challenge to question the applicability and relevance of the measures we use to assess performance. Just because SOV has been used for years and is widely recognized and understood, that does not mean it is a key indicator of marketing impact today. Customers change, the external environment changes, strategic priorities change, so should we not anticipate the need to change how we measure marketing productivity?