Why you should use brand tracking
Brand tracking is one of the most common types of market research, and something that is undertaken by a vast range of different businesses. It’s all about making an investment in the success of a brand, ranging from running a simple quarterly pulse on a DIY survey tool, all the way up to an always-on tracker covering multiple markets and brands. In any case, money has to be spent to deliver accurate, meaningful data, and budgets are hard won and often under threat.
What we’ll outline in this article is why this investment in your brand is so important. Brand tracking which is done well is a hugely valuable part of a marketer’s toolkit, yet the business outcomes which can be built from the data are often forgotten or misunderstood.
Understanding your customers
Firstly, companies run brand tracking to understand consumers. It’s really important not to lose sight of this – there needs to be a purpose when making your investment, and there’s nothing more important than understanding your customers.
This can in part be built from standard brand funnel measures such as awareness, consideration and usage, all of which you’d expect to see in any brand tracker. However, every brand has its own strategy and unique attributes, and relying on a cookie-cutter approach won’t reveal the whole truth – using a blend of standard and customised questions is always optimal.
And, if you’re measuring something and it has no business impact, drop it – if it doesn’t help you to understand the consumer and take a brand or marketing action, it isn’t worth measuring.
What underpins all of this is that we run brand tracking in order to drive sales. There’s really not much point otherwise – the last thing we want is to create a bunch of vanity metrics, and the investment in brand tracking has to show a return.
Metrics listed earlier like consideration and awareness are direct influencers on sales. If nobody has heard of your brand, your chances of driving sales are much lower; equally, it’s much easier to build sales amongst people considering your brand than those who aren’t. And brand tracking that is done well can help you to understand why some people are considering your brand whilst others aren’t.
Every business needs to drive sales in some way, be it CPGs needing to increase share, all the way through to charities needing to attract more donations. Brand tracking is key to supporting this – it forms a set of critical data points that supports what’s fundamental to any business.
Understand brand differentiation
Why people choose one brand over another is really complicated. Big purchase decisions like choosing a Ford versus a Nissan, or an Android phone versus an iPhone, could be rooted in any number of factors and have a purchase funnel that can last for years. Smaller decisions like groceries, whilst being quick, can be equally complicated – what drives someone to buy supermarket own brands for everything except tomato ketchup, where only Heinz will do?
It’s often the case that the only real differentiator is the brand itself, and brand tracking helps to establish the why behind this. You can understand what differentiates your brand against the category average and key competitors – is your brand seen as more fun, but you lag behind on value, for example – and then use important contextual data such as attitudes or demographics to help to establish how you exploit this differentiation.
Measuring the effects of marketing
Marketing strategies can cover many different objectives. Some focus purely on effectiveness, tending to be about driving sales in the short term; others are about the brand and longer-term equity and reputation. Neither is wrong or right, but the effects of marketing on your brand must be understood.
For newer brands, understanding if marketing is driving brand awareness will be a critical success factor, as making your brand famous will likely be the key to long-term success. For well established, global players, it may be something subtler, about how a given campaign is helping to establish a specific brand attribute because it will help to take market share from your competitors.
In either case, tracking how the activity affects key brand attributes will be crucial in establishing the success of your marketing activity, even if your strategy is short-term and sales focused.
Set KPIs and targets
Something that can be established in the medium-term using brand tracking data are KPIs or targets. Brand tracking is best done at a regular cadence (monthly should be the absolute minimum, but have a read of this blog piece to understand how proper tracking should go beyond waves), as it needs to illustrate the change in key metrics.
Once key brand metrics are better understood and well established, they can be used to set targets; for example, if brand recognition has increased by 6% over the previous 12 months, and this is known to drive a corresponding increase in revenue, a realistic target for the coming 12 months could be a 10% increase in brand recognition, something which can be tracked and adjusted throughout the year. And the drivers of this can also be understood using advanced analytics – not only will the brand tracking help to establish targets, it can also explain how to achieve them.
These represent the core reasons to run brand tracking. It can go way beyond this; the Delineate Proximity® platform enables daily tracking, and this can be used to establish how areas such as news and events affect brand metrics (did that PR disaster destroy your brand equity, for example, or can it be quietly swept under the carpet?). Even the most basic brand tracker should encompass the 5 use cases we’ve described, however, and will ensure your research delivers real business value.
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