If you are familiar with market research, you have probably come across the term, tracking studies. Tracking studies are described as longitudinal, meaning that they ask the same questions to measure the perceptions of participants with similar demographics, psychographic or other characteristics in a study over a period of time.
This makes tracking studies an effective market research tool that analyses the changing views of groups of consumers over time. It is essential for businesses to continuously study the market and understand whether there is an appetite for the product or service being offered.
Additionally, tracking studies allow businesses to measure factors including;
- Brand awareness
- Customer satisfaction
- Customer sentiment
This data provides invaluable market insights which allow businesses to analyse marketing strategies, observe competitor performances, as well as understand brand health and sales performances. In market research, tracking the same people is not always possible so the same questions are asked to similar people at different times.
Psychology is what moves the market; thus it is acknowledged that psychology spurs, develop, and even ends market trends. Tracking studies allows the understanding of how perceptions of brands, products, or services change over time. This creates a platform to observe competitors, listen to customers, and ensure that brands meet the needs and expectations of an ever-changing market.
At Genex Insights, the traditional tracking studies conducted are predominantly brand tracking and market share studies.
Brand tracking can be used to:
- Establish brand performance
- Discover strengths and weaknesses
- Understand the market with regards to competition
- Align strategy more closely with the expectations of existing and potential customers
In order to measure perceptions over time, consistency and comparability are critical factors – sampling methodologies should remain the same in order to monitor trends and patterns. Sampling methodology is unique to each project and can include aspects including whether it is a telephonic or face-to-face interview, the areas that were sampled, or quotas applied to the sample pool. High levels of quality checks are conducted throughout the project lifespan to provide reliable and valid data.
Seasonality may influence the results of tracking studies. Promotions, advertising, or news coverage may influence brand awareness and sales; ultimately skewing your results. This may result in:
- False positives – where the survey results are more positive than in reality or an attribute was identified as important when it wasn’t.
- False negatives – where the survey results are more negative than in reality or an attribute was not identified as important when it was.
Brand tracking is a way to measure the health of a brand over time, based on both customer usage as well as perceptions of the brand (ABA Research, 2018), this further helps to quantify ‘brand-related return-on-investment’ (Dalia Research, 2018).
Brand tracking enables you to measure the following:
- Brand awareness: the level of consumer consciousness of a company.
- Employee engagement: this means that employees need to feel recognised and appreciated at work in order for them to assume a level of loyalty, which will encourage them to spread a positive word about the company and its offerings.
- Brand reputation: refers to how a brand is viewed and perceived by consumers, stakeholders, and the market as a whole.
- Brand warmth: speaks to the emotional attachment that customers have to a brand.
- Brand delivery: if this is not aligned with what was promised to customers, organisations face the danger of disconnection with the brand, sending customers in search of alternate providers.
- Market share: is an organisation’s percentage of an industry’s total sales. That is the number of sales obtained by a company compared to that of the industry as a whole.
- Intent to purchase: studies show that market researchers and organisations have spent billions on consumer research to identify the factors that impact consumer decisions. To measure the intent to purchase, various surveys are put in place where consumers are usually asked to rate their intent on a scale of 1-5.
Often, intent to purchase is used to measure the potential consumer’s demand for a new product. This helps gauge whether there is an appetite and demand for the product to justify its market launch. There are six distinct stages that a consumer will pass through when in the process of making a purchase:
- Awareness – respondents need to have a vague idea of what a product or service is about.
- Knowledge – at this stage, the consumer is aware of the product but lacks knowledge of all it has to offer.
- Appeal – this is a stage whereby a consumer develops a connection to the product as they begin to relate to it.
- Preference – assessing customer preferences and those of your competitors allows businesses to identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as the brand’s position in the market.
- Conviction – this is the phase wherein the consumer needs to be given a strong reason to believe that not only this product but this brand is the one for them – this speaks to Brand Warmth.
- Purchase – this is the moment of truth, the moment when the potential customer becomes a consumer and makes a purchase.
- Customer satisfaction is a key factor which needs to be tracked when monitoring brand health as poor satisfaction leads to poor retention rates which in results in plummeting profits. Customer satisfaction can be defined as a measurement that determines how happy a consumer is with the company’s products, services, and capabilities.
Brand Tracking Studies are examined as a tool for understanding what consumers want over time. These studies provide insight on how to improve organisational performances by analysing how brands are perceived. Additionally, cognitive and conative influences can predict how consumers will interact with brands and what the drivers to purchase are.
ABA Research. (2018). What is Brand Tracking? https://www.abaresearch.co.uk/brand-tracking
Dalia Research. (2018). Brand Tracking- Explaining a fuzzy Concept. https://medium.com/daliaresearch/brand-tracking-explaining-a-fuzzy-concept-7c47e9f054c1