Market Research Gauges Brand Health

Effective Customer Experience Drives Profitability - So Measure It

Satisfied customer making a purchase from a small shop.
Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) Software Tracks Brand Health for Greater Profitability. Getty Images | Raphye Alexius | Image Source

How Can a Business Measure Its Brand Health? 

What are the indicators of brand health? 

All these attributes taken together contribute to one robust indicator of brand health: customers consistently choose a company's brand offerings instead of the offerings of competitors.

A wide array of research approaches, techniques, and methods are available to market researchers interested in measuring the health of a brand. Tracking and responding to these brand health metrics can add significantly to a strong position in the marketplace.

How Are Brand Health Metrics Utilized?

The purpose of a solid research plan is to determine the most effective configuration of metrics and instruments in order to generate the strongest, most valuable consumer insights possible. These consumer insights, in turn, will drive decisions about business operations, marketing, and advertising, and how best to manage customer relationships. A well-designed research plan will reveal information about consumers' views of the brand's attributes, features, and value. From these actionable insights, a company can determine its execution strategies for marketing and sales on all the channels it uses.

The overarching outcome of actionable consumer insights is a vigorous positioning of the brand in the marketplace. 

What Is Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM)?

This intense focus on brand health metrics calls for some type of organizational and analytical software to keep track of all the moving pieces.

Enterprise feedback management (EFM) software is specifically designed for just this type of challenge. It is crucial to collect customer data early in the customer lifecycle, and enterprise feedback management software can be used to do this well.

It is important to recognize that strong consulting skills are an important companion piece to enterprise feedback management. This is because being able to analyze a company effectively, and being able to work well with the "implementers" in a business, sets up the situation for optimal success. Enterprise feedback management can bolster consulting efforts such that the most effective methods are deployed and target the most influential metrics.

What Data Can Be Included in an EFM Dashboard?

The dashboard of an enterprise feedback management system can be divided into sections that reflect these two main types of metrics:

  • Consumer Purchase Behavior
  • Consumer Brand Selection

CONSUMER PURCHASE BEHAVIOR METRICS

Surveys at Point of Sale - With so many purchases happening on mobile devices and online, it becomes possible to continually survey large numbers of consumers. For instance, when a consumer makes a purchase on their mobile device, it is possible to tap into their purchase experience while it is immediate - while it is fresh in their mind.

The use of brief surveys that consist of only one or two questions means that consumers are more likely to respond. Also, on the blush of the purchase, when moods tend to be elevated, it can be easier to get consumers to respond to a quick one-two punch survey. This is particularly true if the purchase experience has gone smoothly and expediently.  

Purchase Pathway Diaries - These records are maintained by consumers and describe the research they conducted before making a purchase and then write down the actual purchases that were a result of their various paths to purchase. This can be a form of backward mapping from the purchase to the actions taken or considered by consumers who intended to buy some product, service, or brand. This type of purchase diary records the intended purchases and the actual purchases, including the brands, products, and services offered by competitors that the consumers considered.

In addition to the actual purchases, the diaries contain notes about the overall consumer experience, prices that consumers paid or walked away from, and where the purchases were made or where the purchase consideration research was conducted.

Analysis of Associated Buying - Consumers often purchase other products, services, and brands when they buy something. By analyzing the other items or services consumers buy, such as cross-buying or in response to up-selling, the brand health metric can reveal other aspects of consumers' needs sets that may be related to a brand. This metric can serve to map the ancillary products or services that can be sold to consumers in conjunction with the primary brand offerings. 

CONSUMER BRAND SELECTION METRICS

Voice of the Customer - This metric is a staple for market research and should always be included in any brand health endeavor. To implement voice of the customer or VOC metrics, current customers should be approached about giving feedback regarding the products and services associated with a brand. One of the more insightful aspects of voice of the customer measurements is learning how customers actually use a brand's products and services. The main focus of voice of the customer metrics is to increase customer satisfaction. This, in turn, will increase the likelihood that consumers will select a brand over those of competitors and that they will do this regularly. 

Testing and Trials of Products - When consumers are given a trial product or service, they often feel an obligation to provide feedback to the business. These early insights that occur during product development can be an excellent source of information for future brand positioning and marketing strategies. Also, one of the primary purposes of product or service trial testing is to provide information for innovation and further development. In this way, the trial testing becomes an important aspect of research and development (R&D).

Product testing in real-life situations can be powerful. Using anthropological lingo, consumers engage in a form of ethnographic research in which they are the participant observers who reflect upon their own use of products or participation in services. An ethnographic approach to research can produce rich, thick data from which the consumers and the market researchers work to tease out themes. This approach can be a strong support to marketing and advertising.

Statistical Analysis of Brand Features - By subjecting the brand attributes to factor analysis, a market researcher can determine which of the features are favored by consumers and which of the features may not be of consequence when it comes to purchase behavior.  Also, when factor analysis is supported by follow-up surveys, in-person interviews, or focus groups, it is possible to determine which features need to be changed or improved. Factor analysis produces findings in the form of numbers or quantitative research methods, which may appeal to clients who misapprehend the utility and rigor of qualitative research methods.

In addition, the quantitative findings generated through factor analysis can be easier for the creative team to work with and interpret. This means that marketing and advertising can hone in on brand performance, from the perspective of consumers, which is a very powerful way to tell stories about brands. When consumers are reluctant to complete a purchase, brand performance metrics - and the associated testimonies of satisfied consumers - can strongly influence consumers to purchase a brand. It is also worth noting that this approach to market research can support the development of target market segmentation. And it can prompt consumers to associate with a particular lifestyle brand. 

Integrating Surveys Research with Enterprise Feedback Management

A well designed enterprise feedback management dashboard will let a market researcher add, delete, or revise survey questions at will. This is a practical way to address the fast changes to consumer perceptions that are an artifact of the speed of digital communication.

Standard Market Research Metrics - Through the use of survey questions, it is possible to determine whether consumers are likely to recommend a brand to others. This is standard market research questions, but it has limitations. So it is also important to be able to measure the levels of customer satisfaction and the degree to which consumers are familiar with a brand. All of these metrics are commonly used and will be familiar to most clients, and can be used to anchor the market research. This means that more creative and more powerful measures can be included while maintaining the comfort levels of paying clients. 

Question Types - When constructing a survey, many decisions need to be made about the type of questions that will be used and how they fit with the anticipated survey respondents. Both open-ended and close-ended questions can be used in surveys that are integrated into the Enterprise Feedback Management dashboard. The value of an open-ended question should not be underestimated, particularly when attempting to gather information about brand awareness. There are few substitute measures for the first brand names that a consumer thinks about when asked, instead of selecting a brand name from a list that is given to them. It is useful to consider the influence of images on consumer responses to survey questions, as these question items may be more pertinent as aided awareness questions than unaided awareness questions. This is because the unconscious variables can influence consumer perceptions and actions.

Displaying the Outcomes of Metrics and Measures - A line graph that continually adjusts to incoming consumer survey data is an effective way to gauge brand health. It is possible to obtain full demographic target market segmentation, and with some enterprise feedback management systems, the tabulation of data occurs automatically. One very strong feature to consider when choosing a brand tracker dashboard is the capacity of the software to automatically categorize responses. That is to say that manually categorizing and organizing the magnitude of responses that can be tracked in a software is not at all practical. Some brand tracker software automatically associates consumer responses according to the sentiment expressed or some predefined synonym. This feature is priceless.