Next week is the official start of Spring in Europe, although in the US you have already moved your clocks forward by an hour.
Therefore, this seems to be a good time to review what market research we are running and spring-clean our toolbox in line with our new company objectives. If you would like some help in doing this then please read on for some original ideas on how to make it all easier.
In order to decide on the tools you need, it of course depends upon the maturity of your market, the size of your budget, as well as the position of your br ands in their life-cycles.
Last Spring, we used the 5Ps of marketing as a basis for the review of the market research toolbox; if you didn’t see it or would like to re-read it then you can find it here. This year I will be taking into account the three elements mentioned above and looking at how you might adapt the tools in consequence. Whatever stage your br and is in, however, there are some metrics that you will always want to follow. These include awareness, usage, product performance versus competition and advertising & communication (including pack and web) effectiveness.
Are you competing in a mature category or is it still growing strongly? Mature markets tend to change more slowly; consumers have their purchase habits settled and in some cases choose from amongst a portfolio of br ands, between which they switch depending upon current promotions.
If you are competing in such a market, then you can probably manage with monthly or bi-monthly or even less frequent data about stocks, pricing and shares. Unless a newcomer is launched onto the market, many mature categories have br ands that are being “milked” by their manufacturers, with perhaps little investment in communications. Therefore it is price that usually dominate share changes and can to a large extent be predicted.
In terms of market research needs, retail audits, price tracking and promotional monitoring are all important metrics to gather. Br and Image studies are also important, but can be limited to every few years, when real changes are more likely to be recorded. Too frequent measurement of a static market is likely to show only noise from sample error rather than true shifts in image. If you are in a service industry, then loyalty and satisfaction (NPS) metrics are also useful. (If you’re not quite sure what NPS is or how to use it, then HubSpot did a great Infographic a few months back that I recommend reading)
If however, you are competing in a new or strongly growing category, you will need far more frequent data in order to make informed decisions. In these cases, retail chain data, shares, stocks, out-of-stocks and pricing will be vital to follow, ideally on a weekly basis. Br and Image data should be gathered annually, but everyone should underst and that in a fast moving market, things can alter rapidly, so the ratings are merely snapshot comparisons versus competition. To complement image data, social media monitoring can provide additional information on how your br and’s equity may be changing. Check out what is being said on LinkedIn groups, your Facebook page and those of your competitors, as well as on Twitter using a “#word” search.
Size of the Budget
Although companies should invest wisely in terms of their information needs, in reality budgets are (too?) often defined based upon previous year’s spend rather than current investment needs. It is also not wise to rely solely on a sales percentage for market research, nor marketing come to that, since you should arguably invest more in a growing br and. Many times companies work with this percentage model which seriously limits the potential of promising br ands through lack of customer awareness and information for decision making.
In addition, when budgets are tight, organisations can sometimes be tempted to use qualitative research rather than the needed quantitative data. If you need metrics, then you have to run the appropriate methodology; decisions cannot be taken based upon a few group discussions alone. And please don’t think about doubling the number of groups to get a larger sample! The results will remain qualitative in nature whatever the sample size.
Br and Life-cycle stage
As mentioned above, we often need more information when a br and is stagnating or declining than when it is growing, to underst and exactly what is going on. You could argue that when it is decreasing it is (almost) too late, so in fact it is important to find ways to forewarn potential declines before they happen. In many cases a br and’s image will start to stagnate or decline long before there is any dip in sales. Therefore br and equity measurement is particularly vital for a maturing br and. Other ways to revitalise such br ands is through renovation and this is where concept and pack testing come into their own. You may also decide to look at pricing and new campaigns developments which will also need verification.
When a new product or service is launched, it is wise to do some quick tracking of off-take to gauge likely success. Early measurement can help you make small adjustments to the offer before many people have considered or tried it, reducing the risk of failure in the mid-term. Of course once launched the br and can also be added to your ongoing monitoring of the basic information mentioned above.
If you have information and answers to all of these questions, whatever the stage of your market, category or br and, then your MR house is in good order. If not, then perhaps it is time to update your toolbox with newer, better tools.
Do you review and Spring clean your toolbox every year? What changes have you identified as being needed in your own toolbox? It would be great to compare our spring cleaning efforts, so please add your thoughts in the comments below.
For more information on identifying KPI’s and performance metrics please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/underst and
Need help running your own MR review? C3Centricity offers a 1-Day Catalyst session, where we work with your team to identify priorities & needed change in your processes. Contact us here for an informal chat about it. No obligation, just INSPIRATION!