Michelin Tops 2010 Online Brand Equity Tables
Michelin has topped Tyres & Accessories’ exclusive online brand prominence rankings for the sixth consecutive year, totting up a record high score as it went. In our second online brand equity measurement – sentiment – compiled in association with the artificial intelligence experts at Cambridge-based Envisional, Michelin won-out for the third year on the trot, demonstrating the firms continuing dominance in this field too.
The Envisional analysis into online appearances or “mentions” of 17 major tyre brands, followed identical studies (looking at 12 of these brands) carried out in September 2005, August 2006, July 2007, October 2008 and September 2009. The major difference this time round is that the 2010 report also includes five up-and-coming brands produced in the Far East and while the data shows that they have a way to go before they will be giving their premium competitors a run for their money, certainly as far as online marketing is concerned.
Our report uses Envisional’s DEX methodology to provide measures of the online penetration of, and the sentiment of the references to, these brands. The analysts used their Discovery Engine technology to identify and classify mentions of the 17 brands. The system crawled the Internet over a four-day period between 15 and 18 July 2010, during which time the it classified just under 14,000 relevant web pages.
The analysis shows that, as was observed in all previous studies, Michelin achieved the greatest degree of online prominence by a significant margin (see charts). This has actually somewhat increased compared with 2009 to a new high of 2.92 on the prominence scale. The remainder of the top six most-prominent brands remain the same brands as observed in the previous five years, though with Goodyear dropping from second place in 2009 to fourth place in 2010. A significant gulf in relative prominence between the top six brands and the remainder remains, however Avon can be singled out as a fast riser, going up from 10th to 7th place.
Up-and-coming brands fall behind in terms of prominence, but perform in terms of sentiment
Of the five new brands to be included in the study, Kumho, Maxxis and Hankook all achieved greater prominence scores than Uniroyal (the bottom-ranked brand in the previous studies). Significantly though, Kumho and Maxxis entered the list above Falken in the 2010 analysis. Giti achieved the smallest degree of online prominence of those studied by a significant margin.
Most of the new brands faired much better, however, when it came to the second measurement. The “Sentiment InDEX”, as Envisional calls it, provides a measure of the average sentiment (positive or negative) of the context in which the brands are mentioned online. This is calculated by measuring the volume and strength of positive references against negative references across the Internet for each brand.
This time round, of the five new entries to the study, Kumho, Hankook and Maxxis were all found to be more positively-referenced than Uniroyal. Kumho’s figures show they also surpassed Firestone and Falken in the 2010 analysis. Seen in light of the bad press the company has received due to its recent economic pressures, this is a particularly good result.
However, for the third year running, Michelin attained the position of being both the most positively-referenced brand and the most prominent brand overall. The top six most positively-referenced brands remain the same as identified in all previous studies, though with the most significant was Goodyear dropping down the sentiment rankings from second to fourth place. None of the other original 12 brands in the study changed their sentiment-ranking position by more than one place, compared with the 2009 study.
Getting to the top of the search engines
Looking at Michelin’s well-known Bibendum emblem, you may not have previously thought that he is something of techno-wizard. But, apart from the ubiquitous plaudits that go with winning anything, what do the results mean and what do companies gain from relative strength in each of the categories?
As far as prominence is concerned simply getting your brand’s name in front of the increasing numbers of tyre-buying online masses has to be a good thing. The prominence data reported here goes one step further than just measuring the relative extent of total brand coverage across the Internet, by calculating the number of web pages which feature each brand as well as the prominence of the brand in each occurrence. As a result, this statistic provides a measure of the relative likelihood of the brands being indexed in a set of search-engine results. And with more people buying online than ever before – some sources put it as high as 9 per cent in certain European markets – this cannot be a bad thing.
The sentiment results offer market observers a deeper insight into the effectiveness of various companies’ online strategies. Could Maxxis recent social networking activities, for example, have positively affected its result? For each page on which a mention of a brand is identified, a sentiment score for that brand is calculated. Each appearance on the page of the brand in close conjunction to a keyword deemed to be ‘positive’ scores +1, and proximity to a ‘negative’ keyword scores -1, giving a cumulative total score for the page (with score = 0 being ‘neutral’). For each brand, an average score is then calculated across all relevant pages, after first taking the cube-root of the raw page scores (to remove the effect of outliers). This average score is then multiplied by the square root of the number of relevant pages (to give a measure of significance – this upweights the score for brands where the mentions are consistently positive or negative, and downweights the score for brands whose results would otherwise be skewed due to the fact that only a few pages have been identified).
And this allows you to postulate, for example that had there not been so many references to the 2001 Firestone recall online in news articles etc, Kumho would not have been able to overtake Bridgestone’s second brand in this respect. Furthermore, the consistently strong results of brands such as Avon – which has punched above its weight in all six year’s of this study – prove, as the saying goes, that a good name is priceless.