In a world of 24/7 data, the potential to make rapid and knowledgeable brand decisions has never been greater but most marketers aren’t using it to their advantage. The truth is, the quantity and speed of data today is a double-edged sword. It’s hard to know which key measures to focus on. Making decisions based on short-term responses is likely to result in a focus on short-term sales, when the strongest effects often occur over the long term.
Over the past few years, Kantar Millward Brown has been rewriting the rules of tracking studies to provide what marketers need in a world that has gone from fast to even faster. Brands that focus their continuous tracking on the metrics that matter for success – the long-term indicators that move most quickly in the short term – will gain a competitive advantage.
Marketers have never had such fast access to so much data.
The potential to make rapid and knowledgeable decisions has never been greater but most marketers are not using this to their advantage.
The truth is, the quantity and speed of data today is a double-edged sword. It’s hard to know which key measures to focus on; and making decisions based on short-term responses is likely to result in too much of a focus on short-term sales, when the strongest effects often occur over the long term.
Over the past few years, Kantar Millward Brown has been rewriting the rules of tracking studies to provide what marketers need in a world that has gone from fast to even faster. Brands that focus their continuous tracking on the metrics that matter for success – the long-term indicators that move most quickly in the short term – will gain
Kantar Millward Brown has developed 5 brand guidance principles to help marketers drive brand growth:
1. Act quickly to gain competitive advantage:
Brands that receive information fast and then make good, real time decisions based on that feedback will have the best chance of gaining a competitive advantage.
Decisions need to be made quickly in order to immediately respond to threats and opportunities, helping the brand to get ahead and stay ahead.
IT WAS APPARENT EARLY ON THAT THE CAMPAIGN PERFORMANCE WAS BELOW EXPECTATIONS
Source: Kantar Millward Brown
Here’s one example of how fast feedback from search or social data can help marketers if they are focusing on the right metrics. A big food brand recently launched a new ad campaign that performed below expectations. The brand, which was focused on generating high frequency, started the campaign using 15 second edits instead of the stronger 30 second edits it had already tested. Within the first week, social and search data signalled that the impact and efficiency of the campaign spend was extremely weak and well below expectations.
In this case, these early warning signals would have acted as a trigger for a deeper exploration of the creative mix before more of the campaign budget was spent.
The research would have revealed that the 15 second edits were not successfully conveying the fairly complex creative idea or linking it clearly to the brand. Going with the 30 second ads would have been more expensive but the ads would have been more impactful, and well worth the investment.
Without this insight, the brand continued to spend a total of $17m behind a weak campaign over the upcoming weeks, with little result.
2. Be first to mind when it matters
The Ehrenberg Bass institute has long argued for the importance of salience or mental availability, which has been reinforced by Byron Sharp’s book, How Brands Grow.
Kantar Millward Brown knows the importance of salience for brand growth. Combining data from two of the world’s largest databases (brand equity data from Kantar Millward Brown’s BrandZ with behavioural shopper data from Kantar Worldpanel) proves that salience has a very strong relationship with Volume Share.
If a brand comes easily to mind for consumers at the point of purchase, more people will choose to buy it. Given its importance, and its potential to move rapidly, salience should be a key measure for brands to monitor continuously.
Generating high salience for a brand may be desirable but it’s not easy. One aspect that can be helpful for a brand is to have distinctive assets. McDonald’s is a highly salient brand around the world; in the US its salience index (from BrandZ) in 2016 was 241, nearly twice as high as its nearest competitor.
In this example, neuroscience techniques were used to uncover which key brand assets trigger important brand associations in consumers’ minds. It showed that McDonald’s is helped by having several strong assets that can be used across different platforms. The Golden Arches, Ronald McDonald, and the brand’s carton of fries are all strongly and intuitively associated with McDonald’s.
Source: Kantar Millward Brown/BrandZ 2016
3. Identify what drives sales now and into the future
So while salience is extremely important, it would be a mistake to assume it’s all that matters.
A five year analysis of BrandZ data revealed that brands that increase their salience are more likely to grow, but brands that are also meaningfully different are more likely to grow share faster.
The importance of this combination of being salient, meaningful and different underpins all our thinking about brands, and helps lead to clear, focused recommendations on how and where to invest in the brand. However, changes in measures like difference and meaningful tend to happen slowly, so these do not need to be monitored continuously in the same way as salience; instead they should form the underpinning of any deeper dive strategic work.
Brands which are meaningfully different can also command price premiums, resulting in higher profits.
Some brands overemphasise market share, resulting in excessive discounting to reach targets, which may drive sales but not necessarily profits. By integrating attitudinal survey data with actual behavioural purchasing data from our New Zealand Fly Buys shopper panel it was possible to demonstrate how much more a brand that is perceived to be different – like Purina One in New Zealand – can command in terms of price relative to its competition.
Connecting brand equity with real purchase behaviour can deliver integrated insights that help marketers create both strategies and brand plans that deliver maximum ROI from brand and trade marketing. Identifying the tangible financial benefits of actions that can be taken both in building equity and in activating at point of purchase help drive growth.
For the Pantene brand, Kantar Millward Brown’s attitudinal survey data was combined with the New Zealand Fly Buys panel data at a respondent level. This identified that increasing Pantene’s association with making people feel ‘confident about themselves’ would deliver growth of 1% market share, worth $4.7m. It also identified that if Pantene could improve its assortment in key retailers by using larger pack sizes to target large families, this would prevent an estimated $5.4m worth of share diverting to other brands due to pack size availability. In total, it identified share gains worth $10.2m.
At times, research recommendations may challenge brand orthodoxy and push marketers to write their own rules.
Solid research is needed to do this with confidence, but it can reap great rewards. A recent statistical analysis of a leading snack brand showed the importance of celebrity endorsement, which had been weakened over recent years. It uncovered that consumption could be increased by boosting use of the celebrity to target children with a taste message, while other channels could be used to reassure moms about the nutritional value of the brand.
The client changed its marketing programme accordingly, launching a new campaign focused on a particular sports celebrity and included a supporting scientific claim for moms. This resulted in a 19% increase in market share worth $12.8m.
In an age of 24/7 access to data, marketers should focus on fast access to the metrics that matter, and understand that not all measures need to be measured all the time. Focus on a smaller number of metrics from consumer surveys and supplement them with digital signals generated from social conversations and search patterns to get the fast feedback needed to grow brands in this fast moving world.
All marketers will benefit by following these 5 principles to succeed going forward, and to drive brand growth.