Most people would agree that Coca-Cola makes has more brand heritage than Red Bull, and probably also that Adidas has more than H&M. But how much more?

In soft drinks, clothing and other industries, managers display some kind of connection to the firm’s history, or ground their present positioning in a longer timeframe. They open museums, launch retro products, use their founder in adverts etc…

Since the 2000s, academics and experts have paid increasing attention to the concept of brand heritage as a resource for managers: see academic examples in our article, but also journalists from Campaign, AdAge, Marketing Week, and experts.

Marketing being all about metrics, how can a meticulous manager measure their brand’s heritage, track its evolution over time, and compare it to its competitors? You know that you opened a museum, but how can you check how consumers perceive it, and that it adds value to your brand?

I became interested in this question during my PhD. As a graduate in history converted to marketing, I started to research brand heritage, its definition, its use and the measurement of its perception. I read what my colleagues had published , but it somehow did not always fit with what I had found conceptually. I then started to develop my own measurement tool, recently published in the Journal of Marketing Management.

Using qualitative and quantitative methods, I have developed a 10-item scale, 10 simple questions you can use in a survey of your target consumers (I even tested a 6-item version if you need to cut the costs of your research, available upon request). These questions will give you four scores of perception:

  1. a score of longevity (to what extent does your brand seem to build on history),
  2. a score of stability (does your brand appear stable over time),
  3. a score of adaptability (do people think the brand can renew itself), and
  4. an aggregated score of brand heritage.

These scores can be used by brand managers to track their brand over time, to compare it to its competitors, to measure the effect of a campaign, to pretest and compare several creative propositions etc. The contrast between the three different dimensions is also an interesting metric to track. Some actions with a strong emphasis on the past may boost the score of longevity but in the long run, the adaptability score could suffer. This articulation of change and continuity is at the centre of academic thinking of brand heritage as a temporal concept (see for example this paper). This scale reflects the careful balance between traditions and modernity that makes the concept of heritage so valuable in marketing.

This research provides practitioners with a scientifically grounded metric to grasp consumers’ perception of their brand’s heritage. And just so you know, Coca-Cola’s aggregated score is 46% higher than Red Bull’s, while Adidas is only 16% higher than H&M. What about yours?

Read the original research article: Pecot, F., Valette-Florence, P. & De Barnier, V. (2019). Brand heritage as a temporal perception: conceptualisation, measure and consequences. Journal of Marketing Management.

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Fabien Pecot

Fabien Pecot is a Lecturer in Marketing at the University of York. He joined York in 2017 after completing his Ph.D. from Aix-Marseille Graduate School of Management IAE. His research interests focus on brands’ representations of the past and more specifically the concept of brand heritage.

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Disclaimer: Any views expressed in this posting are the views of the Author(s), and are not necessarily the views of the JMM Editors, Westburn Publishers Ltd. or Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.