One of the most important aspects of a brand’s survival is the understanding of the competitive environment and where your brand fits in. A marketing research company can uncover differences in business structure, manufacturing and sourcing, capital initiatives, and go to market strategy. Crafting a meaningful and actionable strategic plan, arising out of this research as well as customer intelligence, requires collaboration and buy-in from the executive team.
The backbone of the marketing strategy involves segmentation studies, which allow identification of high-value target customers and their commonalities such as behaviors and emotions. These studies can present differentiated portraits of your customers, known as personas, and act as an internal reference point in product/service development and communications. Attributes from your personas can and should be woven into your corporate brand story to keep it relevant to audiences. True understanding and appreciation of your customers helps the company to continuously treat the customer like a person, and not just a series of statistical behaviors. Remember, the cost to maintain a customer is significantly less than the cost to obtain a new customer. Segmentation studies are the benchmark of customers’ preferences and personalities, and should evolve with time to reflect changes in the market based on innovation and trends.
This is precisely where social media has revolutionized market assessment. With Facebook, consumers willingly give information regarding their preferences, age, and attitudes towards brands (and every aspect of life). Topic trends regarding what’s important to people can be quickly discerned by statistical volume in Twitter. Although the channel provides little segmentation insight and it takes quite a bit of time to decipher the data, this exercise does add value.
Methodologies in market assessment give marketers better understanding of their consumers. Testing of new concepts provides data that can reveal insights across a broad range of key metrics. Concept tests are often used to gauge consumer affinity to a concept and how likely consumers are to talk about it and buy it. Equally important, consumer affinity studies determine how likely consumers are to believe that a concept conveys what they’re looking for (emotionally and functionally) or if those same concepts are straying from customer expectations.
Data from concept tests can be cross-pollenated with segmentation to indicate whether your current or prospective consumers actually see the benefits of your offerings.
Examination of the broader marketplace facilitates understanding of not only a brand’s strengths and weaknesses, but also of the competition and where a brand can break through the noise.
In short – An industry portrait demonstrates and documents how brands compete, and what positioning they use to do so. Focusing on increased awareness and sales, brand “health” studies identify key areas of opportunity based on unmet consumer needs, your brand equities, and the attitudes which ultimately drive consumption.