Shopper marketeers should not be afraid to challenge quoted benchmarks both when planning and evaluating activity. This should be the case whether a benchmark has been created internally or shared by an external third party.
Here are a few questions and challenges that should always be front of mind when presented with a benchmark:
“How many results is this based on?” – A relatively fundamental one that should be easy to answer. It is crucial to understand whether the benchmark is based on just a single result or an average of more. At Lobster we define a robust benchmark as one facilitated by 3 or more evaluation results relating to the same measurement topic.
“Is this retailer specific?” – Retailer media toolkits all have some degree of crossover, however each retailer has nuances that can affect performance, such as shopper demographic and brand base sales as well as media cost, creative restrictions and targeting capabilities. Therefore, where possible your benchmark should be specific to a particular retailer.
“Is this category specific?” – This view can be more difficult to achieve as it can involve a significant reduction of data; a balance always needs to be made between ensuring a benchmark is relevant and robust. As buying behaviour can vary hugely category to category this question is always worth exploring. Ensure every possible avenue has been explored here – if no benchmark exists today that is directly linked to your brand, consider parallel categories or products with a similar buying pattern. This data could still be highly relevant and informative.
“What is the time-frame?” – There is no hard and fast rule for the time-frame of benchmarks however it makes intuitive sense that in the face paced world of shopper if a benchmark you are using to plan media in 2020 is using data solely from media evaluated in 2015 this may not be a relevant data point.
“Is this relevant for a brand my size?” – Brand maturity and base sales have a huge impact on media performance, so it is important to sense check that the benchmark you are using takes this into account. Using an ROI benchmark for established brands when evaluating an NPD, for example, would have little comparative value.
“Is this benchmark relevant?” – Finally – and arguably most importantly – always think back to your objectives when using a benchmark. For instance, if your campaign objective is to drive a strong % sales uplift, do not plan media based solely on what drives the strongest ROI, no matter how tempting may be to book the media channel promising a £5 pay-out.
Never be afraid to challenge back on a benchmark if you feel like it is not giving you the value you need. Indeed, using a bad benchmark can be just as dangerous as using no benchmark at all.
Where possible, unless they are created internally try and source benchmarks from an independent third party to ensure an independent view of performance.