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The most effective brand research studies

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No. 3:18 image The most effective research studies

In our last post we wrote about the most important KPIs measuring brand health.

Today we’ll take a look at four types of brand research study that will not only provide you with the previously described metrics but also give you an explanation of your brand’s performance.

These are not the only existing brand-related research studies by any means. However, we believe they are the most effective in that they will help you to solve real business problems.

1. Measuring your brand’s performance.

a) What’s the study called?

Brand tracker, brand health check or brand performance research.

b) Why do you need it and how often it should be repeated?

This is the most basic quantitative brand research study. It measures how your brand and its competitors perform and how the key metrics change over time. For most brands this type of research is done once a year. However, in sectors in which brand performance is directly proportional to revenue, the research can be conducted more regularly (even on a monthly basis).

c) What does it measure?

Brand awareness, brand familiarity, brand profile and purchase intent. If the sample is big enough to include a representative group of your current customers, you can also use it to track Net Promoter Score (NPS).

d) Any caveats?

A simple brand tracking study rarely gives you answers explaining why your brand’s performance is at its current level or why it has changed over time.

2. Understanding your brand’s performance.

a) What’s the study called?

Usage & attitudes research (U&A) or simply a customer survey.

b) Why do you need it and how often it should be repeated?

This is an in-depth quantitative research study which analyses how your potential and/or current customers use products and services from your category, and what affects their attitudes. A well-designed U&A can give you an explanation of why your brand performance is at its current level and why it has changed etc. U&A studies can take many shapes and forms depending on the client’s needs and, as a rule of thumb, are carried out every two to three years.

c) What does it measure?

A U&A can include all the KPIs measured by brand trackers plus a number of more detailed metrics, e.g., declarative data on where people buy products from your category and how often, how loyal they are towards certain brands, and where (and if) they have seen your ads or what their product frustrations are. A U&A can also include elements of research on market sizing and price sensitivity.

d) Any caveats?

Although you can measure almost anything with a U&A, it doesn’t mean that you must. The survey should be designed in such a way that the research results bring you more clarity than confusion. Unfortunately, often the opposite is true and most U&A studies contribute to data overload. One should also remember that U&A results are based on people’s declarations and as such, in some cases, might be far from true.

3. Exploring the deeper roots of your brand’s problems.

a) What’s the study called?

Ethnographic research, anthropological study, consumer home visits etc.

b) Why do you need it and how often it should be repeated?

This is an in-depth qualitative research method, in which experienced and qualified anthropologists observe people in their natural environment. Ethnographic research can help you to understand the reasons behind your brand’s or category’s problems that can’t be verbalized by your respondents. There are certain categories in which consumers’ declarations are worth nothing as they are simply not true, not because respondents lie (which does also happen) but because they don’t remember, don’t know or simply don’t care why they behave in a certain way. Ethnographic research is usually conducted on an “as-needed” basis and rarely takes the form of a cyclical study.

c) What does it measure?

With ethnographic research you can get a better understanding of how people behave in their homes, how they shop, work, interact with others or have fun, and the role of your brand in their lives.

d) Any caveats?

It’s a qualitative study and its results can be tricky to present to senior executives who prefer to see hard data. It’s also worth noting that there are marketers who choose to conduct this type of research by themselves without hiring a specialist agency. This is highly unadvisable as you will never get the same depth and quality of results as someone who is highly trained in ethnographic observation.

4. Making an informed decision.

a) What’s the study called?

Concept testing, A/B test.

b) Why do you need it and how often it should be repeated?

When you want to introduce a new brand strategy, new messaging, a new logo etc., and you have a few options to choose from. Although concepts can be tested in a qualitative study (e.g., during focus groups), the results will be more objective when the research is done as a quantitative survey. Concept tests should be carried out when you have a big decision to make and want to avoid major mistakes (e.g., introducing messaging which will undermine the credibility of your brand or launching an ad which people won’t associate with your product).
So-called A/B tests are best for concept testing. Each concept, message or logo should be tested separately in different groups recruited using the same demographic criteria.

c) What does it measure?

Concept tests can show you how each brand strategy concept, message or visual contributes to your brand’s strength, which one is the most unique, and which builds the highest purchase intent.

d) Any caveats?

Concept tests should never, ever measure whether people like your new strategy, ad or logo. It doesn’t matter if they do. What matters is whether the new logo, idea or message strengthens your brand and increases purchase intent.
Never forget that badly designed research has serious potential to kill the best ideas.

Today we’ve analysed four types of brand research which have proved to be most effective and, as a result, most popular among seasoned brand marketers.
In the next post, we will write about the most common mistakes made when designing and conducting brand research.

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If you need help with research or want to hire Magda for a brand strategy-related project, email her at: magda@brandstruck.co

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Magda Adamska is the founder of BrandStruck.

BrandStruck ithe only online database of brand strategy case studies.
This is a tool that is dedicated to brand and marketing professionals, allowing them to better understand the positioning of the world’s most admired brands, the similarities and differences between them and to learn more about certain categories.

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