When it comes to extending your brand, gaining awareness is less than half the battle

July 26th, 2016 Comments off

In previous blogs we have commented on the validity and practicality of applying the MASB Brand Investment and Valuation model.  In those articles we focused on the value the brand derives from cash flows from existing offerings.  But what about potential future cash flows from planned brand extensions not yet launched – both within existing categories and into new categories?  Can the model be successfully applied to those cases?

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The answer is a resounding yes!  All that is required is a measurement of brand strength for the extension before it launches.  Traditionally this has been tried by measuring brand recall among a group of consumers exposed to either launch copy (if available) or a video concept and using this and expected media support to project awareness.  While it is possible to accurately project awareness levels in this way, ATU validation studies show this provides only a partial answer as brand awareness explains only about 40% of the variance in trial rates (correlation of 0.65).  In essence, just because a consumer is aware of a brand doesn’t mean she will try it.

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However, using the MSW•ARS system it is possible to also gather brand preference before launch.  When awareness is multiplied by brand preference, the relationship improves with approximately 90% of the variance being explained (correlation of 0.94).

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Please contact your MSW●ARS representative to learn more about how our brand preference approach has been integrated across our entire suite of solutions.

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Categories: MASB, The Brand Strength Monitor Tags:

Not All Communications Research Suppliers are Created Equal

July 5th, 2016 Comments off

In the world of commerce the assumption of equality between competing offerings can be a grave mistake.

Certainly there are commodities – oil, gold, pork-bellies, etc.  And even manufactured products can conform to rigorous technical specifications which can ensure comparability within reasonable parameters.  Services, however, are generally another matter altogether.  Typically services grow preference through a difficult marriage of personalization with consistency in the quality of performance.   Straying to one side or the other can lead to dissatisfying results.

Case in point, the “interesting” result from my recent haircut made plain to all that I had not visited my regular barber.  While I can survive an occasional interesting haircut without enduring severe consequences, especially with the strategic use of headwear, this is not typically the case when sub-optimal business decisions regarding important services are made.

In a business environment in which the pressure to minimize costs can be extreme, price and timing considerations can take on outsized importance in choosing among service providers.  As a service, communications research is certainly not immune to such considerations.  But we must bear in mind that research is not a commodity.  Study design and methodology, sampling, operational execution, quality controls and consulting are among the important differentiating factors that impact whether or not the research provides insights that the brand team and their agency can leverage.

How much of a difference can this make in terms of financials?  In one notable longitudinal study the revenue growth track record of brands served by MSW●ARS was compared to the track record of brands served by other copy research suppliers.  The study covered fifteen business quarters wherein each brand’s sales were compared to year ago sales to determine whether the brand had grown or not.  In an average quarter, nearly sixty percent of brands served by MSW•ARS experienced revenue growth.  For brands served by other research suppliers the corresponding figure was under twenty-five percent.  And even in the worst quarter for brands served by MSW•ARS nearly half the brands still grew.

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Of course brands face different environments that can impact trends in business results and all brands may at times face headwinds from a slowdown in overall business conditions.  But across a pool of brands and a large number of quarterly observations, effective communications research should help brands realize topline growth more often than not.  The results of this study reveal a clear trend. The brands served by MSW●ARS were consistently more likely to grow versus the prior year compared to those that we didn’t serve, providing proof that indeed not all communications research suppliers are created equal.

Please contact your MSW●ARS representative for more information on how our communications research services and consulting can help improve your brand’s advertising communication and contribute to growing topline sales.

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“It is always cheaper to do the job right the first time.”

May 16th, 2016 Comments off

This quote from businessman Philip Crosby has often served as the rallying cry for advocates of modern management practices.  At its heart is a simple truth; it takes less time and effort to improve a process than it does to revise each unit created from that process.  In fact, Crosby’s work showed that measurement systems geared towards improving manufacturing processes returned far more than they cost; hence the title of his bestselling book Quality is Free!

But does this logic hold for the advertising development process?  As demonstrated by the below case study the answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’  The advertiser involved installed an inexpensive, early stage copytest system containing both sales calibrated behavioral measures and diagnostics for understanding consumers’ conscious and unconscious motivations.  At the start of the process only half the ads produced annually met their sales effectiveness target.  But with each new test the brand team and their agency uncovered insights to apply in the next set of creative.  By the fourth year the rate of ads meeting their target had grown to nearly two-thirds and was still climbing.

The cost savings from needing to produce fewer ads not only covered the cost of testing but also fueled a shift from non-working to working dollars.  Furthermore each working dollar worked harder as the average sales effectiveness of the ads on air also improved.  By the fourth year the sales per media dollar spent was seen to have increased by over 30% versus the first year.

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