Archive for the ‘The Brand Strength Monitor’ Category

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”


“measuring too much”

“too expensive”

“not actionable”


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.


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.


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:



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.


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.


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.


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.


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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?

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.


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).


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

Categories: MASB, The Brand Strength Monitor Tags: