Meet the NPS for the Values Economy

For decades, Net Promoter Score has been a standard catch-all brand sentiment score. Part of the NPS appeal is its simplicity; promoters minus detractors. For example, if 25% of people are promoters and 5% are detractors, then the brand’s NPS is 20.

In The Values Economy, the idea of supporting a cause that would turn off a portion of your addressable audience keeps many brands from acting on their values. Without measurement they may be missing out on the upside of values-alignment of new and existing customers.

Net Cause Score is a tweaked NPS, but instead of measuring a brand’s sentiment, it measures the risk and reward of supporting a cause. This is important because without defining the upside and downside of a cause, brands are flying blind. 

Instead of promoters and detractors, NCS uses values-aligners minus values-repellers.

Given a choice between two equal brands, one that supports a cause and one that does not, values-aligners are the people who would strongly pick the cause-supporting brand. Values-repellers are people who would pick the competing brand.

The best way to see how this works is through an example. We asked 1,000 US consumers a hypothetical about two unnamed brands — one that supports Black Lives Matter and one that does not. Then, we asked these consumers, all else equal, which brand they would purchase and if they would be willing to pay more for it.

  • 40.1% of the audience said they would pick the BLM brand and would be willing to pay more for it. These are the values-aligners. The implication is not that brands should raise their prices, but that willingness to pay is a fantastic indicator of brand preference, and a higher bar than just choosing between two equals.
  • 10.3% said they would pick the non-BLM brand, even at the same price. These are the values-repellers.

Do a little subtraction and you get a Net Cause Score of 29.8 for Black Lives Matter. Supporting racial equality can be polarizing, but overall it is a large net positive for a brand. 

Let’s take NCS to the next level. People’s values vary wildly depending on the audience. For example, if a brand is targeting a younger demographic, people between 18-35 years old, the numbers in our example change. Now, 49.5% would pay more, 8.0% would leave, for a Net Cause Score of 41.5. This score goes even higher for high income households.

Of course, not all NCS scores are positive. If the brand’s target demographic was 60+, for example, the NCS for Black Lives Matter would drop to -6.7 — a net negative for a brand. Of course, brand values are not just about following what is popular. Even if a cause has a negative NCS among a target demographic, many values-driven brands will still act. Either way, it is better to have data to help quantify the impact.

This simple equation can help brands make informed decisions about the values and causes they want to promote. Brands are often risk averse. A decision that turns 10% of the population against you takes confidence. Data that shows for each person you turn off, six people will choose your brand is what gives that confidence.