Balancing the Need to Know and Standing the Test of Time
Over the past two weeks, I reported out about the State of the Campaign 5 times to more than 200 registered callers — and that does not include the companies who assembled teams of folks in conference rooms. Thank you for your interest, enthusiasm and great questions! Your comments and feedback motivate our team to continually ask ourselves tough questions and give you our very best effort and thinking.
There was a common thread in the questions I received during the webinar and afterwards. How did we arrive at the figure 500,000 tons of consumption in 2016 were attributable to the campaign and how can prevention of paper loss be growth? The USDA-required econometric analysis takes into account consumption that is new as well as decline that is mitigated. So in the case of paper, the advertising campaign had the effect of protecting the loss of a minimum of 210,000 tons in paper consumption. In other words, the tons lost would have been 2% worse without the campaign. It is estimated that the campaign also helped create in excess of 290,000 new tons of packaging consumption. For more information on how the model works, link to our video series with Harry Kaiser, PhD or read his one page paper on this year’s report.
Just as important, another conversation was going on behind-the-scenes these last two weeks – how reliable is this number and should we trend it at least one more year before releasing in case of anomalies? Econometric reports like the one we shared this month are typically produced looking at data by year, over many years, not months of data over 4 years. And while we had enough monthly data points to produce our first report, the industry team who worked with Professor Kaiser on the model raised their concern about the potential for “noise” in the monthly data that may disappear in data trended annually and therefore impact the numbers we were reporting. After much deliberation, it was decided to report conservatively the positive direction and momentum of the campaign using data collected monthly for the last four years because so many of our companies wanted more concrete data than the proxy metrics we had been reporting.
What’s next? More time and promotion under our belt. But during the months ahead of the next data release in July 2018, we will look for any and all opportunities to fine tune the model and consider whether data collected on a monthly vs annual basis is ultimately the best way to estimate and report the campaign’s impact on tons.