Views from the Hills by R. E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail

Benchmarking - What and for What Purpose?

I got a call a couple of days ago about how I thought "Benchmarking" should be conducted.  The caller seemed surprised when I asked, "What are we benchmarking?"  There are many things we benchmark in industry.  I don't claim to know all that we benchmark but I do know we routinely benchmark in more than just one way.  Almost two years ago I wrote a Views about benchmarking within individual tests.  There is also benchmarking to compare results of today with results of the past.  There are other "benchmarking" tasks conducted routinely.  For instance, we benchmark product performance (some call it quality control while others call it laboratory testing), we benchmark consumer acceptability, we benchmark the consumer's perception of product performance and even some companies will bench mark the consumer's perception of a brand's performance.  In all cases, it is a comparison of today with yesterday, competition, or how do we compare with historical data?

Let's look at each in just a little detail:

Product Performance:

Consumer Acceptability:

Many companies use consumer evaluations to insure that the acceptability is up to some predetermined level of acceptance.  This type of data is usually obtained through Monadic Blind Home Use Testing.  Comparisons are made relative to other brands as well as the historical norms of the brand.

Perceived Product Performance:

In the Product Performance testing mentioned above, the attributes are ones that can be calibrated or measured directly such as cake height, degree of soil removal (laundry detergent), fabric whiteness, etc.  Again the results are compared to other brands as well as the historical norms of the brand.  Two conventional protocols are usually used:  directed performance and non-directed.

Brand Performance:

Keeping in mind that we do not sell products, we sell brands, many companies will benchmark the perceived brand performance, both image and performance testing.

Other benchmark perspectives deal with the comparison with standard products and market share results.  But more on this in a later Views.

Sponsor:  Sorensen Associates Inc      Portland, OR  800.542.4321        Minneapolis, MN  888.616.0123
The In-Store Research Company