Don’t you hate the term ‘never lived up to their potential? We often hear it when talking about up-and-coming sports players or when successful people fall off the wagon. It’s really a term that suggests you had everything there and going for you, but you didn’t use it. How frustrating! That’s what I see when marketers conduct brand research and rely on standardised measures instead of exploring the relevant insights about their brand and seeking meaningful solutions.
“Wow, that’s a pretty big call Andy,” you may say. “So, how would you go about it?”
I’m not saying we should neglect methodology but more understand its potential and how we can use it more effectively.
Traditional market research agencies will boast they have ‘the best methodology’ that is invariable for all their clients. But by solely relying on a standard set of questions that offer a high-level perspective, the context of your market is lost and lack the nuance needed to better understand your brand performance.
By going down this route, brands end up measuring metrics that are not correlated with their business objectives or relying on predetermined brand metrics you would see in a brand or sales funnel.
Okay Andy, so what do you suggest? It’s simple: optimise.
Optimised brand research isn’t this new shiny product just breaking into the market. It’s been around for a while. It’s about working alongside researchers who are familiar with your business objectives, understand your market, and tailor their analyses to deliver what is most relevant to you and your brand, and how your brand really works in relation to others.
As a consultant, it’s vitally important I understand what a client’s needs and strategic objectives are before I undergo research or write up a questionnaire. This is so I can tailor solutions aligned to my client’s industry, needs, market and consumers and ensure my insights are direct and meaningful. It is my goal to make my clients smarter.
It’s not re-inventing the wheel; it’s about making the ride smoother.
What is optimised brand research?
Optimised brand research is about understanding the real brand journey your consumers undergo and then using those steps as your brand measures. By understanding each step of this journey and how your brand performs at each critical stage, you can leverage relevant brand associations (such as good value for money, is reliable, good customer service) that move consumers through the brand journey towards your final end goal. That goal might be raising awareness, customer retention, customer acquisition, or something else.
How do I optimise brand research?
Fundamentally there are two factors you need to consider to ensure you are optimising your brand research.
- Working with stakeholders or a consultant who understands your business objectives and market.
- Ensuring your team or consultancy is able to run the necessary analyses that will provide the insight and strategy you need.
What we have seen across various clients is that more traditional categories suit a more traditional purchase journey or funnel (awareness, consideration, and preference).
In less traditional categories we see very different purchase journeys, funnels, and key measures that predict success for the business.
Understanding what journey or funnel is most apt for a brand’s category and the market is the key to the optimisation process, otherwise, we’re measuring something that’s not important. Think of it as if you were a rugby coach selecting players for your team. For your forward pack, you would consider strength and power as the leading qualities for player selection, whereas, for your backline, speed and agility may hold higher priority as they are better performance indicators for those positions.
Taking brand research a step further with data science
Using scientific and statistical methods beyond the initial layer of your results will help you extract knowledge and insights from your sea of data. With it, you can discover those key nuances that ensure your insights are connected and statistically relevant to your brand.
This is where you can create and measure the most effective brand journey for your brand. With the right analyses, you can know where your brand is currently positioned but also the statistical connection between each of your brand metrics and how they influence one another (i.e. by increasing brand saliency you may also lift consideration in parallel).
Combining different data science techniques, like factor and regression analyses, can whittle down your long list of brand association and imagery statements into a set of themes, such as socially minded or helpful brands.
The impact each of those themes has on your brand metrics is then determined through regression, providing insight into how to strategically position your brand based on your brand objectives.
For example, this type of analysis might show that being a trusted brand will subsequently increase your brand consideration, therefore “trust” becomes an association to further leverage your brand communications to consumers.
These additional analyses help understand your brand’s key strengths, in context to your market, that will move consumers from one stage to the next in your brand journey, and ultimately to your end goal. It can also help determine the kinks in your brand’s armour. When we find weak factors in your brand journey, we take a closer look at the type of consumers who drop out of the journey at this point, seeking to understand their experiences and uncover what it will take to convert them to the next step.
It’s the nuance like this that you miss out on when you only rely on broad tracking measures and fail to connect the dots already in your methodology. By optimising your brand research you are able to dive deeper to uncover insight that pinpoints exactly what you need to do strategically to achieve your business objectives.
Don’t become the next brand that didn’t live up to its potential.
Andy Strain is a Research Consultant at Perceptive, Australasia’s leading technology-based customer insights agency. Perceptive provides research, insights and data-driven marketing programmes to a variety of organisations across the Asia-Pacific, North America, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and India.