The Challenges of a New Brand Name – 5 Empirically Supported Tactics to Improve Your Results

March 31st, 2017 Comments off

It’s common for new products to leverage existing brand names.  This could be line-extension – a new variety of an existing brand in the same category; or a brand-extension – a new product in a new category using an existing brand name.  In either case, the new product can take advantage of the brand’s existing equity which will typically lessen barriers to trial among consumers and improve the chance of gaining distribution among retailers, among other potential benefits.

It is much less common for new products to be released under a completely new brand name.  It happens when manufacturers enter completely new categories unrelated to existing brands; or when leveraging existing brand equities is inappropriate for the product’s proposition.  We examined the MSW●ARS advertising database to provide an estimate of how common this is.  The fact is, it is comparatively rare, with only between six and seven-percent of new product advertising tests being conducted for products with completely new brand names.

That being said, there are a huge number of new products introduced each year and so that six to seven percent actually represents a very large number of new brand introductions annually.  This is illustrated in the following chart, which shows the trend in U.S. new product introductions among consumer packaged goods between 1998 and 2016.  The chart also shows a strong uptick in new product introductions in 2016, as brands try to take advantage of a strengthening economy and the associated phenomenon of consumers being more willing to try new things.  In this environment, completely new brands are not only more likely to be tried by manufacturers, but they’re also more likely to be tried by consumers.

Blog 2017 03 31 FIG 001

Source: Mintel’s Global New Product Database

While there are many challenges for a new product before launch, once it is in the market it is imperative that the product gain awareness and sufficient trial to earn continued support among retailers in order to maintain distribution and shelf space.  For a new product with a completely new brand name this can be challenging.  We examined the MSW●ARS database and looked at new product advertising and compared Related Recall levels for ads for completely new brands versus those for line- and brand-extensions.  Note that the Related Recall measure is designed to capture the efficiency of creative to breakthrough and create a memorable impression of the advertising and this metric has been strongly linked to movements in awareness.

We found that, on average, Related Recall levels for ads for completely new brands are only 64% of those for other new brand ads.

 

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Source: MSW●ARS Analytical Database

Clearly ads for brands with completely new names struggle to create a strong branded impression in the minds of viewers.  Established brand names already have associations in the minds of consumers which ads for a line- or brand-extension can tie into and more easily leave a lasting impression.  Ads for a product with a new brand name are starting from scratch – a much more daunting task.

To further illustrate the challenge, we used the MSW●ARS new brand awareness model to compare average ads for completely new brands versus those for other new products.  We found that in order to gain the same level of brand awareness as an average ad for a line- or brand-extension at 1000 GRPs, an average ad for a completely new brand would require about 1450 – a substantially larger media investment.

Taking steps to improve an ad’s ability to break through will not only help build awareness with a lower media spend, it will also help nudge viewers toward trial.  There is a significant relationship between an ad’s Related Recall level and its level of persuasiveness (as measured by the MSW●ARS CCPersuasion measure, which has been shown to be strongly correlated to new product trial level and is predictive of the magnitude of market share gain for established products).  And in fact this is especially true for completely new brands.

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Source: MSW●ARS Analytical Database

So how can a completely new brand improve its communications and make it more likely that the brand name registers and persuades consumers to try the brand?  Here are 5 empirically supported methods which can help new brands do just that.

1.  Ensure sufficient branding:

Analysis of the MSW●ARS copy-testing database indicates that sufficient branding is beneficial for all product types, but for completely new brands it is vital.  Two proven measures of branding are the number of times the brand name is spoken and how long the brand name or logo is shown on-screen.  As can be seen in the following chart, completely new brand 30-second ads incorporating these branding elements realize a boost in Related Recall about five times greater than that realized by other new product ads.

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Source:  MSW●ARS Analytical Database

2.  Avoid Short Ad Lengths:

The use of shorter ad lengths can be especially challenging for completely new brands.  While the number of 15-second ads for completely new brand names in the MSW●ARS database is relatively small (reflecting the fact the few even attempt this), it appears that Related Recall levels for these ads versus other new product 15-second ads are at a ratio even lower than the 64% level seen across all ad lengths.

3.  Consider a Meaningful Brand Name:

One driver of stronger CCPersuasion levels is a brand name which reinforces a product benefit.  While this may not be easily actionable for established brand names, it is obviously something a completely new brand can benefit from – and as the following chart shows, the benefit they receive from utilizing a meaningful brand name is substantial.  So invest in your name.

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Source:  MSW●ARS Analytical Database

4.  Avoid Gimmicks to Gain Attention:

There are certain attention-grabbing executional elements which tend to increase Related Recall levels while being neutral towards an ad’s persuasiveness.  However, data for two such elements that we looked at suggest employing such gimmicks for completely new brand advertising may often backfire.  So stay away from gimmicks and stick to your message.

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Source:  MSW●ARS Analytical Database

5.  Don’t be afraid to compare:

A completely new brand needs to find a way to convince consumers to choose it over what they currently use.  In pointing out how they are unique and different from the competition, such brands should not shy away from comparing and claiming superiority, as these approaches have a strong track record among completely new brands in terms of both CCPersuasion and Related Recall.  Just make sure you can back it up.

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Source:  MSW●ARS Analytical Database

Please contact your MSW●ARS representative for information on how our communications research tools can help your brand win in the marketplace.

Categories: Ad Pre-Testing Tags:

5 Tracking Best Practices

January 5th, 2017 Comments off

Late last year we wrote a few pieces about tracking best practices.  These pieces really struck a nerve.  As 2017 gets rolling and many of you are probably thinking about and evaluating your research needs and objectives for the year we thought it would be helpful to revisit and expand on the theme.

As a company that’s very involved in the tracking space we have a lot of opportunity to hear directly from clients and prospects what’s working for them and what’s not.  What we hear repeatedly is a lot of dissatisfaction in the research community with trackers.  We hear things like;

“too big”

“bloated”

“measuring too much”

“too expensive”

“not actionable”

etc.

None of this is new but it seems to be at a fever pitch recently.  As such we’ve been fielding a lot of questions about what we recommend as best practices.

We have 5 best practices that we consistently offer up to our clients, that we have proven to represent a best in class approach to tracking – a sentiment shared by many thought leaders in our industry.  Most of these can be found in a paper that our own Frank Findley, EVP of Research presented at the ARF Re!Think Conference last year.  (contact us for the full paper)

1. Utilize One Primary Aggregate Measure

Utilize one primary aggregate measure.   The best in class choice for this measure is our Brand Preference.  This is supported by many independently validated research projects, most recently the MASB work presented in this paper.  The three most important features of this measure are its ability to capture the impact of all other ‘equity’ measures, take into account competitors and data collection at the individual respondent level.  Brand Preference is the cornerstone measure of our Brand Strength Monitor service.

tbsm

2. Supplement This With The 7 Other Measures We Have Proven Work Across All Other Categories

Once you’ve established this, then you should use the other 7 measure that we typically see work across all categories to help explain the data. They are:

  1. Awareness Unaided
  2. Brand Loyalty
  3. Value
  4. Purchase Intent
  5. Brand Relevance
  6. Awareness Aided and
  7. Advocacy

3.Customize For Your Specific Category

Then what we do for clients is customize their trackers to address specific category needs.  For example; convenience might be an important measure for one category but not another.  To gauge this, each element can be analytically compared vs the aggregate measure to calculate a derived importance.  The strengths and opportunities for the brand can then be easily found by crossing derived importance vs. brand performance on the attributes (see matrix example below).  This type of analytics is usually done once per year or every two years as category drivers tend to be steady in the absence of disruptive changes in the category.

prefmatrix

4. Track Continuously or Less Often Supplemented With “Deep Dives”

Collectively; the brand preference, the seven cross-category measures, and the category specific measures can be arranged into a score card and tracked over time.  Currently 70% of our clients collect this data continuously while 30% do waves (typically two per year).  For those that collect it continuously, the data itself is typically rolled up monthly with ‘deep dive’ reports going to management quarterly.

 

5. Harness The Data To Run Segmentation Analyses

Along with the scorecard, there are also generally segmentation type analyses where performance on KPIs is used to find and qualify consumer clusters or to monitor trends on quickly growing consumer groups.  For example, monitoring millennials has become standard.  This chart from the MASB, Brand Investment & Valuation Project demonstrates this point:

sensitivysubgroups

 

So, if you’re like many that we’re hearing from recently, and that with whom we’ve already shared this thinking with, this may be a revelation.  If you’d like to read more about this, please contact us – we’re happy to share a full white paper with you and we can discuss your particular needs.

Categories: The Brand Strength Monitor Tags:

Samsung’s Exploding Battery Problem and What it Means for Their Brand

September 21st, 2016 Comments off

Recently, Samsung encountered a problem with some of their lithium ion batteries – they’re exploding!  Particularly those in their Galaxy Note 7 smartphones.  The causes have been determined1, but there is still a lot to be remedied as many airlines have recently warned passengers not to use them on planes2 and they’ve been forced to issue a recall3.

A question you may have regarding this developing situation is: What, if any, impact will this have on the strength of the Samsung brand?

Even though they have been receiving a lot of press regarding this issue, Samsung is not the only company to utilize these types of batteries4.  Also, Samsung is a very large company with a breadth of quality product offerings that go beyond just battery-powered devices.  So it is theoretically possible that that the overall brand will not suffer at all.  Another possibility is that there will be brand erosion but that it will be confined only to smartphones or, perhaps, to just battery-powered devices.  Finally, it could be that the issues will foster a general distrust of the brand that will umbrella over Samsung’s offerings in all categories.

By using The Brand Strength Monitor we can directly answer this question.  TBSM provides continuous collection of the MSW•ARS brand preference metric, the only independently validated measure of brand value.  Through its trend we can quantify what, if any, impact the battery problem is having on the Samsung brand.  As shown in the below table, currently seven categories in which Samsung competes are being tracked in this manner.

The first observation is that brand preference for Samsung is eroding quickly in the smartphone category.  In August alone it dropped over three percentage points versus the prior four months.  This erosion does not include the more recent developments regarding the device recall and airline warnings.  Once September data (and beyond) is available we will be able to gauge the full extent of this decline.

samsung-no-1-fig-001

The second observation is that this erosion is spilling over into all categories where battery safety and performance are important product features.  Even though there haven’t been reports of battery issues for smartwatches, tablets, and laptops none-the-less Samsung is experiencing substantial (over half a share point) preference declines in these categories.

samsung-no-1-fig-002

On a positive note, brand preference in the non-battery dependent categories is holding relatively steady.  This suggests that overall Samsung corporate equity has not yet faltered (at least through August).

If Samsung continues to lose brand preference across its battery-powered device categories, it undoubtedly will take time to rebuild what it once had.  However, it will be far from impossible.  Brands like Samsung, with strong legacies and established equity, can weather quite a storm.  Brands have staged comebacks after much worse incidents – such as Tylenol a few decades ago.

samsung-no-1-fig-003

Brand preference plummeted 32 points during the Tylenol tampering incident, as the nation watched several people die from the poisoning.  The Tylenol brand could no longer be trusted.  As Brand preference dropped, Tylenol’s market share fell 33 points.  As Johnson & Johnson addressed the situation responsibly, the strength of the brand’s previous contract (trust) in the minds of consumers was rebuilt, although a bit more slowly than it was damaged.

To be fair, smartphones and tablets (and consequently Samsung’s offerings in those categories) have only existed for a fraction of the amount of time Tylenol had been around during the aforementioned incident.  So, while the overall Samsung name may be relatively unscathed by recent developments, its specific lines in battery-powered device categories may not be so fortunate.

How Samsung continues to handle this brand crisis will go a long way in determining how low their brand preference will drop – as well as how long their recovery takes.  We at MSW●ARS Research will be paying close attention.

 

1 – http://www.chicagotribune.com/bluesky/technology/ct-why-those-samsung-batteries-exploded-wp-bsi-20160912-story.html

2 – http://money.cnn.com/2016/09/08/technology/samsung-galaxy-note-7-airlines-battery-fires

3 – http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/samsung-stops-selling-galaxy-note-7-after-battery-explosions-n641891

4 – http://www.cbsnews.com/news/lithium-battery-fire-risk-samsung-galaxy-note-7

 

 

Categories: The Brand Strength Monitor Tags: