21st Apr 2015

Net Perception Marketing: Are We Missing the Point?

How do you make a big purchase? Say, a holiday? A car? Or even a place to have lunch? If you needed to make such a decision, who would you turn to? The truth of the marketing matter is that when we make a major decision we usually ask around for advice from friends, family and co-workers, valuing their input and seriously considering what they have to say. Anyone in our close circle has influence our purchasing. This proximity marketing is a powerful tool in a marketer’s armory and if we don’t take it into account and focus too much on our Percy Persona or Molly Marketing we end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Proximity marketing is also a powerful way to persuade people to buy – but it takes a completely different campaign to reach out to the audience around your target market so cannot be overlooked.

The reason most marketers overlook proximity marketing is because controlling or influencing an unknown group is extremely difficult and almost impossible to identify. It’s almost like the community around your target audience is a nebular affair made up of ideas and suggestions with no substance and absolutely nothing you can pin down and work on. The problem is, this nebulous cloud of uncontrollable voices has real power in the decision making and that needs to be taken into account when drawing up your next campaign. But how?

Net perception is a way to understand the feeling of those peers around your marketing persona and how they may be influencing a purchasing decision.

The Math

Inc.com did research into net perception to see if you could measure the general feeling of one of these nebulous groups.

A group of over 1,000 millennials were chosen, those ranging from 18-24 years old, and their views on automotive preference. They were given a set of car brand choices and asked:

Which car would you most like to be seen in?

Which car would you least like to be seen in?

The results were then compared and net perception was calculated. It’s a relatively simple calculation as it amounts to the number that voted for a brand then having the number that voted against it subtracted and converted into a percentage, but the results were interesting.

Of the ten cars included in the selection five had a net positive perception where more people wanted to be seen in them that didn’t. That means that five cars had a negative net perception where more people voted against the brand than voted for it. This may just have been coincidence, but it was also interesting that the net percentages were similar for both positive and negative.

For instance, the top net positive car that people wanted to be seen in was a jeep at 16%. The car people least wanted to be seen in was the Kia with a net negative perception of … -16%. The lowest net positive car was Nissan at 2%, which matched the lowest net negative of -2% for the Toyota.

It would appear that feelings ran about the same for and against a product – but at least you know which product was the most wanted and least wanted by the groups … and their peers.

One surprising thing that did arise was that Jeep had the highest net positive perception, but if you take the votes at face value, Ford was the brand most people wanted to be seen in. Knowing that your target audience thinks they want to drive round in a Ford, but secretly dream of owning a Jeep can help you market to your persona, but also the nebulous influencers around them. It means that if your lead is looking to buy a Ford, the chances are the community around them are advocating for them to buy a Jeep. In other words, market the Ford as a dream car for your target customer – just market it to look like a jeep and maybe you’ll win them all over.

When you know your net negative or positive ratings of the product you are marketing you can begin to understand the purchasing pressure from the nebulous community, and begin to work for or against it. The nirvana that every marketer wants is everyone advocating for their product so this is the best chance you currently have to influence everyone.

No marketer can afford to ignore the fact that whilst being the most desired brand is great, but having the highest net perception is what affects the purchase most. Calculating your brands net perception may be all the difference between growth in sales – and massive growth in sales. After all everyone loves to be understood.