In total the MARS differentiates between 10 different ratings from AAA as the best rating to D as the worst, while E has to be considered as an extraordinary rating. Those different ratings are grouped into four primary levels with the A-ratings being the best and D being the worst. All levels are subdivided into three different ratings marked by the number each letter is repeated. BBB for example, is the best rating in the B-level, B is the worst rating in the B-level. The levels as described result in the following ratings that are applied by the MARS-committee: AAA, AA, A, BBB, BB, B, CCC, CC, C, DDD, DD, D and E.
- AAA Prime is the highest rating and differentiates the top agencies within the triple-A ratings.
- AAA Prime rated agencies are considered to be the prime segment of the worldwide business of modeling.
- "Big names" with the highest worldwide reputation and the leading companies in the industry.
- Triple-A These ratings are issued to the best modeling agencies.
- Market Share Triple-A rated agencies are not only based in a geographically important city, but furthermore, represent a substantial amount of successful models, are long-running and have a high reputation.
- Optimal location A-level agencies are mostly based in the leading fashion cities.
- The B-level covers the wide middle-class of modeling agencies as well as new emerging agencies.
- Mid-developed and agencies with moderate reputation within the industry are allotted to this rating.
- B-rated agencies often represent a mentionable amount of successful local models and have well-placed offices.
- C-level agencies are either new to the international market, or mainly representing nationally working models.
- Being rated with C does not necessarily mean an agency is of poor quality, since agencies that are new to the market usually require some time to gain a foothold and earn reputation.
- C-rated pose a low risk for business partners.
- D-level (default) includes agencies that may reflect a higher risk for their partners.
- Underperforming market share, lower market presence and/or a bad business location are often causing this rating.
- Presumable low turnover and failures of payment obligations can be seen as a potential risk.
- E-level (excluded) include all agencies that are considered to be questionable and may not hold full legitimacy as a model agency, as stated by the MARS committee.
- In certain cases, these agencies could be either involved in criminal offenses and/or scam activities and/or obscure practices, but could also be E-rated for other reasons.
As is widely known in the financial industry, the power of ratings can have enormous effects. The team of the MARS rating committee has decided to base its rating-algorithm on a broad set of data and individual expertise.
Because of that, each rating depends not only on the expert knowledge of a set of experts, but also on factual evidence gathered. To sum it up: The better the position of a model agency in the market, the higher its reputation and the longer its history, the better will its rating be.