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A Q score is a measurement of consumer familiarity with a particular brand, combined with the consumer response to that brand. In order for a brand to receive a high score, people must both like a brand and be familiar with it. In a related concept known as the emotional bonding Q score, researchers look at the level of devotion people demonstrate towards a particular brand, looking at brand loyalty as another facet of the interactions between consumers and brands.
This concept was developed by a marketing agency in New York in 1963, a heady era in the days of advertising. Q scores were one of many attempts to make branding more scientific by creating hard and fast measurements which could be used to gauge consumer response to a brand, along with ongoing relationships with various brands. Companies arrive at these scores by distributing surveys to a wide array of households to gather information, and they may be calculated in reference to consumers in general, or in reference to a particular demographic, such as the 18-25 year old age range.
The brands involved don't necessarily have to be product brands like those sold in the grocery stores. Q scores can be calculated for individuals such as public personalities, along with television shows, publications, films, sports, kids programming, and dead celebrities. Thanks to the abundant coverage of many top brands in the news, a Q score can fluctuate rapidly. An actress might have a high score on one day, for example, and a low one a week later because a tabloid magazine printed rumors about her.
As a general rule, companies aim for a high Q score, no matter what they are marketing. A cereal company likes to know that people are familiar with its brand and they have high respect for it, for example, just like a television network is more likely to keep a show on the air if it receives a high score. These scores are also calculated when companies make decisions like finding a new person to endorse a product, or when a new brand is released.
The emotional bonding Q score can sometimes be a bit paradoxical when compared with a regular one. People may have a high level of attachment to a relatively obscure television program, for example, in which case the ratings and regular Q score might be low. In these instances, canceling the show could invoke the ire of furious fans who might descend upon the network to express their dissatisfaction, as has happened in several notable fan campaigns for extremely obscure television shows.