Archive

Author Archive

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.

 

Blog 2017 03 31 FIG 002

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.

Blog 2017 03 31 FIG 003

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.

Blog 2017 03 31 FIG 004

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.

Blog 2017 03 31 FIG 005

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.

Blog 2017 03 31 FIG 006

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.

Blog 2017 03 31 FIG 007

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:

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.

mini-blog-02-FIG-01

 

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.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Surpassing the Norm – Better Approaches to Providing Meaningful Context – Part II

August 31st, 2015 Comments off

In Part I of this blog series, we examined some of the practical issues with the use of standard normative data for providing context for  advertising research.  While having the global databases and expertise to provide traditional database averages as the situation warrants, MSW●ARS also offers approaches to the question of context that avoid the issues which plague traditional norms, providing more meaningful points of comparison that decision-makers can rely on with confidence.

 The Fair Share Benchmark

A vital consideration in applying norms to communications research metrics is that the metrics themselves should be meaningful, allowing for comparisons to benchmarks to yield actionable insight.  One way a metric can be considered meaningful is if it is predictive enough of in-market sales effectiveness to be useful as an overall success criterion.  While most commonly used metrics fall short of this standard, the MSW●ARS CCPersuasion® metric (a behavioral measure of the change in percent of brand preference taken before and after incidental advertising exposure) was described by Quirk’s Magazine as having “been validated to actual business results more than any other advertising measurement in the business.”  As an example of its utility, its track record in predicting matched-market advertising weight and copy tests far outstrips other metrics:

 Norm Part II - fig 001a

It has also been shown to predict actual sales volume impacted by an ad, as determined through marketing mix modeling:

Norm Part II - fig 002

The CCPersuasion score is not compared to a category average.  Instead, to provide meaningful context to the question of whether an advertisement has attained an acceptable CCPersuasion level, it is compared to the Fair Share benchmark.  This benchmark represents an estimate of the sales effectiveness, in terms of CCPersuasion level, for a typical ad for the advertised brand, given the category environment and the brand’s position in that environment.  It utilizes a model which was derived from the results of tens of thousands of advertising tests and which has been proven to work over the course of several decades.  Essentially, it utilizes brand and category market structure factors that have been shown to be related to higher or lower CCPersuasion levels.  These factors include:

  • Loyalty:  In any given category, some consumers are, to varying degrees, susceptible to switching brands.  In general, the more consumers susceptible to switching brands, the higher the sales effectiveness of advertising in that category.
  • Number of Brands:  Categories differ in terms of the number of competing brands.  More brands mean more competition for non-loyal consumers, which results in a lower expected level of advertising’s sales effectiveness.
  • Brand Strength:  The larger a brand’s share, the smaller the pool of non-loyal consumers available to switch their preference to that brand and the more difficult it is to achieve a given increase in brand preference.

Norm Part II - fig 003

Vitally, these brand and category factors are collected as part of the MSW●ARS Touchpoint methodology which allows it to avoid the pitfalls inherent in category averages which were discussed in part I of this series:

  • Availability – While category averages depend on the availability of sufficient relevant historical data, Fair Share is always available even for new or emerging categories since the inputs are a product of the testing system itself.
  • Consistency – Category averages can be influenced by methodological differences between the current test and historical testing.  Fair Share always reflects the brand’s specific test situation by only using information from that brand’s testing as inputs to the model.
  • Representation – Category averages can vary greatly depending on what brands are included in or missing from the normative data set.  On the other hand, Fair Share is stable since its inputs have been proven to be reliable in their collection.  Plus, the model has been derived on and refined from tens of thousands of cases for brands in nearly every conceivable situation and so can be applied to any brand with confidence that the benchmark is appropriate.
  • Brand Development – Category averages provide a single normative level for all brands, despite the fact that different brands can and do have very different situations that affect the potential strength of their advertising.  In contrast, Fair Share is always based on current marketplace conditions and the brand’s specific position in the category.  So each brand has its own unique benchmark level commensurate with realistic expectations for its advertising’s sales effectiveness.

How do we know that a brand’s Fair Share level is truly “fair”?  Fair Share levels are closely monitored over time to ensure that average levels closely match average CCPersuasion level.

Norm Part II - fig 004

The average Fair Share level doesn’t just match average CCPersuasion overall, but also at different Fair Share levels as illustrated in the following chart.  This shows that Fair Share effectively captures the factors that tend to result in higher or lower CCPersuasion results and that the benchmark is “fair” in a wide range of brand circumstances:

Norm Part II - fig 005

Furthermore, Fair Share explains 64% of the variance in CCPersuasion results across brands and categories, indicating that it effectively reflects each brand’s unique situation.

MSW●ARS pioneered this modeled normative approach and has unsurpassed expertise and systems in place to assure that the Fair Share benchmark continues to be the gold standard in the communications research industry.

Derived Importance

When it comes to looking for insight into what is driving an ad’s performance, it is typical to look at diagnostic metrics in relation to historical normative averages and assume that those elements eclipsing normative levels must be driving an ad’s success.  However given the issues with category averages, these assumptions can be erroneous.

This leads us back to the second way a metric can be considered meaningful – that being, it is specifically related to the brand or category in such a way as to guide revisions or future developmental work.  However, most common metrics for which normative data is typically available are too general to provide specific guidance to the brand, while those attributes and equities directly relevant to the brand or category often lack robust normative data sets.

A contextualization approach which would provide meaningful feedback needs to be inclusive of all diagnostic elements which a brand considers important enough to include in its communications testing research initiatives.  As with Fair Share, the MSW●ARS approach is to assess attitudinal metrics using context derived from the testing methodology itself, allowing for application to all diagnostic elements included in the survey.

This approach is possible within the MSW●ARS Touchpoint methodology since both CCPersuasion and attitudinal metrics are collected from the same sample.  This allows us to analyze attitudinal measure performance between those study participants who changed brand preferences and those who did not change their preference after exposure to advertising.  This makes it possible to derive the importance of each attitudinal factor in the actual performance of the piece of copy or campaign.

As with Fair Share, this Derived Importance approach obviates the availability, consistency, representation and brand development issues associated with traditional norms due to the assessment of importance being internal to the methodology of a single communications research survey for that specific brand.  Furthermore, the results are both complete in scope and meaningful since all metrics are covered and the assessment of importance is based on preference change from the CCPersuasion metric which we have seen is strongly tied to in-market sales performance.

Furthermore, the importance of each attribute can be crossed with attribute performance levels.  Such a plot, as in the example below, can reveal areas of important strengths as well as, most vitally, perspective on potential areas for improvement that a brand can use to guide revisions to copy or as input to future initiative development.

Norm Part II - fig 006

As parents, we need to know how are children are doing as we attempt to help them develop and fulfill their potential.  In doing so, we depend on benchmarking to academic, developmental and societal norms to help us understand how they are doing.  Similarly, as marketers we are concerned with developing our brand’s potential and need appropriate context to ensure our communications initiatives are delivering all the support our brands deserve.  In each case, it is imperative that context is meaningful, relevant and unbiased to avoid taking misguided or even detrimental actions.

To learn more about the MSW●ARS approach to providing appropriate context to your brand’s communications research results, please contact your MSW●ARS representative.