Do consumers prefer your brand over Brand X? By how much? And why? And do they prefer it over brands Y and Z? Until now, there hasn’t been a fast, accurate, transparent way to find answers to those questions and communicate the findings in a visual, easy-to-grasp format. But if there WERE a way to do that,  researchers and marketers would find it tremendously helpful in shaping their product development, positioning and messaging.

So we’ve developed a solution—a way to create a map of the “PreferenceSphere” for a set of brands in a product category—and we’re soliciting your feedback.

Harvesting Preference Data

Preference data is a new type of information that can now be harvested automatically from social media, thanks to NetBase lenses. The ConsumerBase Preference Lens reads sentences on social media sites and recognizes linguistic patterns that express preference. In addition to recognizing such statements as “I prefer X over Y,” it recognizes “X is a step up from Y,” “X is much better than Y,” “X beats Y,” “I think X overshadows Y,” and other patterns that express a preference. It even understands a statement like “X is better than both Y and Z,” which we use to add a data point for Z to our analysis.

DISCLAIMER: There are many duplicates in the Internet data for our prototype. Don’t take these scores too seriously until we integrate this feature into our ConsumerBase product, by which time we will have corrected the problem. However, the duplicate problem works in both directions and tends to cancel itself out, so we don’t believe it’s skewing the results.

Understanding the 2×2 Graph

The graph displays preference data in two dimensions. The x-axis (horizontal line) is the measure of Influence, which is how often the brand is compared to others. The y-axis (vertical) is the measure of Net Preference, which is the number of times a brand was preferred over another MINUS the times another brand was preferred over it. That’s the “net” part of Net Preference. (If this is too elementary for you quantitative researchers, wait for the next post on directed graphs that underlie the 2x2s.)

The graph makes it easy to compare relative preferences for products. For example, you can see at a glance that Facebook has the highest “Net Preference” ranking on the y-axis, showing Facebook is preferred over other brands far more than other brands are preferred over it. Comparing it to another site, like MySpace, you can see Facebook is preferred over other brands far more often than MySpace.

On the x-axis, the graph shows that some brands, such as Facebook, which has a high ranking, are compared to many other brands, while a brand such as Plaxo is not. People just don’t talk about Plaxo much in the dialog on social media sites. So Facebook has much higher “Influence” ranking than Plaxo.

There’s more to say about preference maps, and I’ll follow with two more posts. In the meantime, we’d very much like to get feedback and requests from you about the Brand Preference maps and what features you’d like to see.

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