Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Types of Research for Brands



I have spent the past 35 years conducting research on behalf of brands. Over that period of time, I have conducted hundreds of studies. In this blog post, I thought I would outline the types of research that you can conduct and the things you can learn from that research. One of a researcher's most important roles is to select the right research methodology given the business and marketing objectives and the action standards.


  • Though qualitative research - focus groups, mini-groups, depth interviews, online groups, etc. - you can better understand customer attitudes, beliefs, values, hopes, fears, concerns, needs, desires and perceptions of the category and your brand and competitive brands. 
  • Through conjoint analysis you can create the optimal combination of product/service attributes/features that deliver the greatest perceived value.
  • Price sensitivity research (projective) and price elasticity research (based on historical sales) can help you develop the optimal pricing strategy.
  • Brand equity studies will help you measure brand awareness, preference, associations, personality, relevance, differentiation, accessibility, perceived value, emotional connection and loyalty.
  • Brand positioning studies can help you identify the most powerful unique value proposition.
  • Brand asset mapping can help you understand what a brand's associations and most important assets are. 
  • Brand extension research can help you understand into what new categories a brand could be most successfully extended.
  • Brand emotional heat mapping research indicates the degree to which a large variety of emotions are associated with your brand.
  • Attitude and usage studies will help you size and dimensionalize the market for your products.
  • Customer segmentation studies can help you segment the market on a wide variety of demographic, geographic, psychographic, cohort, attitudinal, values, purchase behavior and usage behavior dimensions.
  • Consumer purchase and use diaries can be used to monitor thoughts, behaviors and purchases over time to discern patterns. Diaries on smartphones are an emerging version of this research.
  • In-store traffic pattern mapping including in-store heat mapping can help the the design of store layout and retail merchandising. It can also indicate with which categories, products and brands consumers spend the most time.
  • Customer journey mapping is a process that helps you understand the entire customer decision making and purchasing process. 
  • Anthropological research takes many forms but basically approaches customer research using anthropological methodologies. 
  • This can include selfie photos and videos taken by the consumer herself. 
  • Environmental scanning and text mining scrape and analyze text from websites, collateral, ads, white papers and articles to identify patterns and content trends.
  • Customer service testing helps you understand all of the dimensions of your customer service delivery and how it was perceived by the customer.
  • Mystery shoppers help you experience the customer shopping experience first hand.
  • Logo research can help you develop the most powerful logo with the greatest recognition and recall. 
  • Concept testing can help you understand how unique and compelling a concept is, whether it be a business, product, service or brand concept. 
  • Advertising can be tested in a variety of ways. You can conduct a pre and post test to measure differences in brand awareness and associations. You can compare the results of two different creative approaches in an A/B test
  • In online marketing, you can measure click through rates, cost per click and cost per thousand. 
  • With CRM systems, you can measure the ROI of different lead generation sources and different sales approaches. 
  • Perception Analyzer research allows you to view the results of quasi-quantitative research in real time while also being able to stop and ask qualitative questions of the respondents. 
  • Eye tracking research can help you design better ads.
  • Using CT scanning and other medical technologies to measure human response to ads can make likes and dislikes very clear. 
  • Combining data mines with attitudinal research is very powerful. 
  • Social polling, one or two questions at a time, is a quick, easy and affordable way to get consumer feedback.

For more information on brand-related research, refer to the Brand Research chapter in Brand Aid, second edition, available here.

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