I ALWAYS FIND BRAND SURVEYS less than adequate and, as usual, I have some issues with the annual Top Brands survey conducted by Markinor for the Sunday Times. This year’s favourite brands are Coca-Cola, SA Breweries, Nike and Vodacom. But how can Eskom be South Africa’s fifth favourite, level with Pick n Pay? After its evident failure to plan ahead, its inadequate power supply, its load shedding, the huge bonuses shamelessly paid to its executives and impending price rises? A litany of failure.
Behind it came Nokia, MTN, Toyota and BMW. Come on, now!
First thing to realise is that only 53 people noted Eskom down as a favourite. That’s 1,5% of 3 500 surveyed. When sample sizes are so small the margin of error gets bigger.
The second explanation, I suggest, is that the result is really a measure of awareness rather than approbation. The ordinary Joe Schmo doesn’t always attribute the same meaning to the words used as do the researchers. Take, for example, the word “cool”. For today’s average young consumer it’s a vague word of approval. It becomes a substitute for concepts as diverse as “yes”, “trendy”, “I’m glad”, “OK” and “that’s wonderful”. It also has the old-fashioned literal meaning: a lower temperature than the things around it.
So when asked to name SA’s coolest brand, which of those meanings does the subject use? Your guess is as good as mine. Nike was the coolest this year, which is credible; but what was CocaCola doing in second spot? Almost by definition, a mass-market product can’t be called cool in the sense intended, which implies exclusivity. Or were they thinking of the temperature in those refrigerators?
I could go on, but I’ve run out of space.