The Froot Loops NPS Case Study (Part 1) WTH is NPS?

Cerealously (

What the heck is NPS?

About three years ago I heard a coworker talking about Net Promoter Score (NPS) in regard to websites. I learned that it was a kind of scoring system that you could use to compare your website to others. I did not know how it was calculated but assumed it to be a rating based on a review process by an organization. Something like the Michelin rating for restaurants. The name “Net Promoter Score” sounded official and technical to me.

A year or so later I decided to figure out what it actually was. I was surprised by what I learned. Net Promoter Score is based on a calculation based on a one-question survey.

“How likely would you be to recommend this to a friend or colleague?”

A respondent is asked this question and is asked to rate how likely or unlikely using an 11-point scale: 0 being “not at all likely” up to 10 “extremely likely.” The responses are then put into three buckets. 0–6 are detractors, 7–8 are passives, and 9–10 are promoters.

To calculate the NPS score you throw out the passives and subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

Nielsen Norman Group (

I have questions…

When I understood how NPS was calculated I became very skeptical. I should mention that I work in user experience research not marketing or customer experience so I do not have the expertise to determine how effective NPS is in those areas. In terms of UX I had the following questions:

  1. What can a single scale response tell you?
  2. Is it confusing to take a 0 to 10 scale and turn it into a -100 to +100 score?
  3. What are we missing when we ignore people who give 7/10 and 8/10 responses?
  4. Is the 0 to 10 scale difficult to rate?
  5. Is the NPS question awkward and difficult to answer?
  6. What does the NPS score mean?

I have used NPS in UX research and have not found it to be particularly insightful. As in most scale questions, I find asking “why” following the NPS score to be more valuable.

Why do people use NPS?

Businesses are using NPS to measure customer loyalty. Frederick Reichheld developed NPS based on a large-scale survey study. He presented his findings in a 2003 issue of the Harvard Business Review. He concluded that the “would recommend question generally proved to be the most effective in determining loyalty and predicting growth.” A few year later it became a very popular metric.

Therese Fessenden at Nielsen Norman Group reports that UX professionals are capturing NPS for a number of reasons. NPS is “well-known and liked by upper management for its strong correlation to profits.” Its “fairly easy to collect,” “closely related to the perception of user experience,” and correlates with System Usability Scale scores. Fessenden recommends using NPS as a benchmark for before and after redesign efforts.

How do Canadian Birthday Cake Froot Loops fit into this?

Let me switch gears a bit. Recently I was in Toronto for the UXPA International conference. After a walk, I visited a local grocery store and found this on the shelf.

A few days later I noticed that this “cereal for the apocalypse” was not included the UXPA International breakfast options. I asked them why. They responded that they thought that I would be bringing them. Fair enough.

I decided to go buy a box and share them with my UXPA comrades. I was curious to see how people reacted to them. This led to the idea of having folks try them and asking them the NPS question. That would allow me to test my assumptions and learn more about NPS.

And it would be totally hilarious…

(#FLNPS Part 2: Methodology and Quantitative Results)