How Good is Good Enough?

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What level of consumer interest does your company need to move forward on a major decision? How much customer support does your brand need to be considered a success? Interpreting research results isn’t always straightforward. In this blog, we discuss some common scenarios and industry benchmarks to give you an idea of what constitutes “good enough” when getting feedback from consumers and existing customers.

Brand (and Competitor) Tracking

For more established brands, one of the most widely known metrics is “Net Promoter Score” (NPS), which measures a customer’s likelihood of recommending a brand to others. It asks consumers to rate a brand from 0 to 10, with those who select 9 or 10 being considered brand “Promoters.” Consumers who select 0 to 6 are considered “Detractors” and those who rate your brand 7 or 8 are considered “Passives” who are satisfied, but not very enthusiastic. 

Net Promotor Score, Courtesy of NICE Satmetrix

NPS is calculated by subtracting your proportion of Detractors from your proportion of Promoters. It’s a simple and limited metric, but can still be useful. When it comes to brand enthusiasm and loyalty, you obviously want a positive NPS rating. But customers can be hard to turn into enthusiasts and no consumer brand is perfect — even many well-known brands have negative NPS ratings. According to Forrester Research, in 2020 NPS ratings for 250 major brands ranged from -35 to +59.

As a standalone metric, a negative NPS rating is worrisome. A rating between 0 and 30 is generally good news, but leaves room for improvement. A rating of 30-50 is considered great, while a rating of 70 or greater is excellent and hard to beat. But NPS is probably most useful when compared to either benchmarks for your industry or specific competing brands. You can find NPS ratings through secondary research like Forrester or by conducting your own surveys.

If you need to run your own survey, Moonshot Collaborative can help with pre-built questions for capturing Net Promoter Score among plant-based buyers. 

New Product Development 

What level of consumer support do you need when developing a new product? For specific attributes like salt level, bitterness, etc., you might consider a series of questions using five-point scales ranging from “much too low” to “much too high” or a similar approach. For overall product feedback, however, one common food industry standard is the 9-point hedonic scale. Here’s an example of a question with this scale: 

               How much do you like or dislike this product?

                        1 – Dislike extremely
                        2 – Dislike very much
                        3 – Dislike moderately
                        4 – Dislike slightly
                        5 – Neither like nor dislike
                        6 – Like slightly
                        7 – Like moderately
                        8 – Like very much
                        9 – Like extremely

Whether it’s through an in-home product trial, in-store sampling, or even a focus group, having a standard way to ask for product feedback can be very useful. Similar to our discussion of NPS above, the hedonic scale can be used as a standalone tool, but is probably most insightful when comparing different products (or concepts). For instance, you might compare two variations of the same product or compare your product against the current market leader. 

When developing a new concept, aim for an average consumer rating of 8-9 on the hedonic scale shown above. If you get an average of 6-7, consider whether or not you can get qualitative feedback, make some alterations, and improve that rating. A rating of 5 or below (with your target audience) should probably make you pause and think. Competitively, if you can be at or near the average rating of the market leader, you’re probably in good shape. 

Consumer Interest and Market Sizing

At Moonshot Collaborative, some of our clients are pre-revenue startups that want to understand how big their market might be. We can approach that question a variety of ways through consumer surveys, but the results may not be as easily benchmarked as the examples above. For instance, if you get 50% of consumers saying that they would buy your product if they saw it on the shelf, is that enough? What about 70%? Or 30%?

The answer depends. If you’re a plant-based food producer in a relatively niche category, then 30% might be a great result. But that might be considered a bad result for a mainstream category that most households already purchase. For example, in the US people eat less fish/seafood than most other types of meat. If you’re producing a new plant-based version of lobster, you wouldn’t expect it to appeal to as many consumers as a plant-based burger. 

You can overcome this by establishing relevant benchmarks or by segmenting your results. With benchmarks, a simple version would be to ask the same “would you buy” question of two or more different products with similar mainstream appeal (e.g., lobster and turkey instead of lobster and beef) and then compare the results. With segmenting, using the example above, you might focus on just the results for people who have actually purchased conventional or plant-based fish/seafood products in the past year. 

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Of course, knowing what level of consumer support is “good enough” is more nuanced than a specific Net Promoter Score or rating on the hedonic scale. Survey results must be put in the context of a business’s phase of operation, product category, target audience, and other factors. But by using a combination of survey results, industry benchmarks, and other insights, your company can get a full picture of whether or not you’ll succeed with consumers. 

As always, Moonshot Collaborative is here to help, with our exclusive panel of plant-based buyers and our extensive custom research capabilities

 

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Che Green

Che is a co-founder of Moonshot Collaborative and a 25-year consumer research veteran who has helped startups, established businesses, and nonprofits succeed in their goals to help protect the environment, public health, and animal welfare.