Thursday, 19 December 2013

Ranting about Ratings

Tearing opening an amazon package in the rush to get my presents all packed up in time, I noticed a request to "rate this packaging", directing me to both the UK and German amazon sites. Just out of interest, I typed in the link and left some ratings as to the size, adequacy and ease of opening of the packaging.

It's not just amazon who bother you for ratings - of the item itself, the seller, the packaging. All around airports, stations and other public places, neon smilies await your rating of the "toilet experience" or similar. I don't usually bother as these rarely allow you to clarify, justify or explain your rating - which can't be very helpful if a problem arises.

I can take all this rating business as long as it's about practical, factual stuff. Difficult packaging or dirty toilets are much the same to all of us. But once we get into the area of personal opinion, it gets difficult. I have written reviews on amazon for years, for books mostly, and I still feel uneasy about giving out stars. Quite frankly, I'd much rather just write a review of the book. But the trend is going such that the stars and ratings and averages are becoming far more important than what people actually think or feel.

It's the same in marketing. There is a growing tendency for KPIs to become goals or objectives in themselves. It becomes more important to achieve a certain score on some numerical indicator than to work out what we want to do with our brand. "Make our brand famous" is, for me, a valid objective. How you measure that, if you can, is another question.

I see too much application of positivism in marketing, with the misconception that what can be measured must be important and what can't, isn't.

There was only one star that the wise men followed that first Christmas, but it was a good one.

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