What is Q Score? - Definition & Research

Instructor: Dr. Douglas Hawks

Douglas has two master's degrees (MPA & MBA) and a PhD in Higher Education Administration.

Marketing professionals are very interested in the popularity of their product. But, how can they accurately measure how popular their product is with their target market? We'll find out how in this lesson about q-scores.

Measuring Popularity

The job of marketing professionals is to take a product and make it popular with some defined group of potential customers. In this lesson, it is important to note that the term product can refer to a number of different things a marketer is working with - an actual product or brand, a celebrity, a movie, or anything else with a reputation that can be improved (or in some cases, worsened).

But, how do you measure popularity? A simple way is to find out how many people know about a product. For example, ask 100 people if they've heard of the professional basketball team the Boston Leprechauns. If 62 say they have, you could say that 62% of people have heard of the Leprechauns. Does that really tell you anything?

If you are a marketer, is your job just to increase that 62%? That could increase if the star of the Leprechauns makes an offensive comment on television, but that's not really a good increase. One of the real metrics marketers are interested in takes into account both the familiarity of a product and whether people have a positive opinion on that product.

The Q-Score

The public's familiarity and positive opinion of a product can be measured using something called the Q-Score. The Q-Score has been used for over 50 years in marketing. It is calculated by asking two simple questions.

First, a respondent is asked if they have heard of the product - a simple yes or no question. By calculating the percentage of people that answer 'yes,' you get the familiarity score. Second, if someone answers 'yes,' they are asked if they would rate the product poor, fair, good, very good, or one of their favorites. Calculating the percentage of people that have heard of the product that also consider it one of their favorites gives you the popularity score of that product.

To calculate the Q-Score, you just multiple the familiarity score by the popularity score. Let's walk through an example to illustrate this math.

As part of the marketing team for a new, intense drama movie called Stolen, we want to know what the Q-Score is for Stolen after a few weeks of advertising and showing trailers. A polling company calls 900 people that represent the general population. Of the 900, 212 say they have heard of Stolen. Of those 212, 64 rate it as one of their favorite trailers and are planning to see the movie on opening day. With that information, what is the Q-Score of Stolen?

Remember, we need to other scores to calculate the Q-Score. The first is the familiarity score, which is the percentage of people that have heard of Stolen. Nine-hundred people were asked, and 212 said they have heard of it, so what's the familiarity score? If you calculated 23.5%, you are right (212 / 900 = .235).

Now, the second score we need - the popularity score. Of the 212 people that have heard of Stolen, 64 rate it as one of their favorites. When you calculate the popularity score, do you get 30.2% (64 / 212 = .3018)? If so, you get this!

With a familiarity score of 23.5% and a popularity score of 30.2%, what is the Q-Score for Stolen? If you came up with 7% (23.5% * 30.2% = .07), you are right on! When Q-Scores are reported, they are reported as a number, not as a percentage, so that 7% is reported as 7.

Interpreting Q-Score

As a marketer, the first question you ask when you get a Q-Score is probably something like, 'Is a Q-Score of 7 good?' The answer is simple: it depends. Just like so many other metrics, the score itself gives you a little insight, but comparing it to other products is where the real useful information can be found. To know if 7 is a good Q-Score, you need to know what the Q-Score is for other movies.

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