Using Innovative Brand Research to Uncover Important Consumer Insights


Stephanie Douglass

Sr. Director, Marketing and Operations


Many traditional brand tracking methods fall short because they deliver information without revealing true understanding. Most brand tracker studies focus narrowly on your brand instead of considering the full scope of your customer’s lives and their world. As a result, valuable insights sit in a silo, disconnected from real-world context that imbue findings with true meaning.

Moving beyond the WHAT (ex. what customers think of your brand, what they want from the category) and into the WHY (why are your competitors succeeding, why are consumers saying one thing and acting differently) reveals a goldmine of insights enabling smarter decision-making for your brand.

True, traditional research methods do provide useful information. However, the only way to uncover deeper meaning – especially from today’s savvy consumers – is to employ cutting-edge brand research methods.

Here are two ways we’re applying innovation to achieve more useful insights for our CPG, finance, healthcare, and telecom clients.

A New Spin on Brand Tracking

MDRG has developed a fresh approach to brand tracking, integrating insights from what consumers claim to do, what they actually do, and the emotional triggers prompting action. We look at both micro-elements – your consumers’ individual decisions, perspective, and actions – and macro considerations, such as cultural context, KPIs for your category, and emotional understanding based on non-conscious factors.

There are four components to our approach, each providing an important piece of the market research puzzle.

1. The Brand Funnel Framework

The MDRG Brand Funnel Framework measures prominence, affinity, and commitment to your brand.

  • Prominence: Do consumers think of you?
  • Affinity: How do consumers feel about you?
  • Commitment: How loyal do consumers feel toward you?

Use the framework to determine strengths and weaknesses up-front, before moving on to other contextual considerations. Do consumers know about your brand but don’t necessarily like you? Does a small group of people love the brand – but not at a critical mass to impact sales?

Instead of casting a wide net, our Brand Funnel Framework shows you specifically where the action is needed to improve brand performance.

2. Category Considerations

These are unique modules based on critical KPIs for your category. Knowing more about the category enables you to understand how your brand fits into the real marketplace – one that involves competitors. KPIs will vary by industry. For consumer packaged goods (CPG), research may focus on determining use occasions and brand loyalty. KPIs for banks, on the other hand, may focus on trust instead of loyalty, as consumers are less likely to switch.

3. Emotional Context

Integrating qualitative, non-conscious components to reveal how consumers feel is crucial to teasing out the “why” that drives their behaviors, especially behaviors that appear contradictory. Online metaphor elicitation and implicit association exercises extract non-verbal attitudes consumers may not be consciously unaware of but drive their behavior nonetheless.

4. Cultural Context

Knowing more about current cultural context, as well as the direction society as a whole is headed, positions brand findings within a much larger scope of understanding. Cultural context exploration answers questions like: What’s happening in culture right now? What is coming in the future? What do these findings mean for the future of your brand? Where does the brand need to go based on where society is headed? This knowledge helps brands take intelligent action today, as well as guide strategy for the future.

A 360° View on Brand Performance

“Brand health” means something different to every market research firm, but to us, brand health reflects how well-known your brand is, as well as how prominent a role it plays in consumers’ minds. MDRG’s Brand Health Score offers a full-spectrum analysis of how your brand is performing. Determining affinity and prominence reveals your brand’s shortcomings and successes (compared to competitors) with greater detail and context than basic satisfaction and perception scores.

Surfacing this level of detail requires applying a Whole Mind™ approach. Using primary survey data collection, we reveal a consumer’s conscious thoughts and perceptions. We also surface non-conscious decision-making behavior by analyzing search and digital channels. This provides insight into more than what consumers say they think of a brand, it exposes what consumers actually think about a brand, as evidenced through their online actions. Integrating both System 1 and System 2 metrics delivers more valuable insight into how the brand performs – and why.

Take Advantage of Today’s Innovations

Proven research methods are reliable in delivering basic insights, which continue to provide value. However, it is both possible – and mandatory – to evolve, in order to learn more about consumers and social context in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Much like your market research firm provides insights to help you improve your ability to serve consumers, innovative partners should also continue to push their own methods further to maximize the actionability of the information they provide.

Contact MDRG today to learn more about how our innovative approach to research can benefit your brand.

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