Brand equity is part of the marketers’ vocabulary to refer to the value of a brand as measured by a range of criteria which might include the strength of consumer preference, the familiarity of a brand and the loyalty that consumers have to a brand versus the competition.
As consumers in developed markets have become more aware of the social, ethical and environmental effects of a brand, so too have marketers become more involved with tracking the extent to which social, ethical and environmental factors can affect a brand’s equity - its value to a company.
The term brand social equity is now being used to refer to the value attributed to a brand based on consumer evaluation of the brand’s contribution to wider society.
Consumer evaluation is typically carried out through quantitative market research studies – sometimes a regular omnibus study or a more specific and analytical study, such as the Good Brand Social Equity Index. These studies allow marketers to make correlations between known and significant brand valuation measures and a brand’s social equity. Quality or purchasing preferences will be key features of such an exercise.
Marketing guru Philip Kotler foresaw, in 1972, that consumerism would lead to pressure for healthier and more socially and ecologically responsible products. Brand social equity is one of the terms now being used to measure this emerging consumer pressure.
Products with high brand social equity include Ecover, this company produces environmentally friendly cleaning and laundry products. Another example is Cafédirect, the fairtrade hot drinks company.