Being smart about research

A key area to nail to succeed as a marketer is research - it forms the basis of the decisions that you take. There are several areas to be explored in MR, so as a starter I requested Jayant to help clarify some  basic MR concepts, and introduce a few key frameworks (in the following posts).

I know Jayant from MICA, and he's spent the better part of this decade working in research, helping consumer clients form better decisions from their data at AbsolutData in Chicago. You can find him here.

Here's the first of three parts: Being smart about research:

Most marketers would have support from their Insights and Analytics team. These teams could work parallel feeding strategic insights at regular intervals or at times respond to Adhoc requests from marketing teams. In majority of the organizations insights and analytics team is an integral part of the marketing team itself, working closely on a day-to-day basis. A successful marketer would always be a smart researcher as well. This does not imply to have deep knowledge of techniques and methodologies but a quick understanding of three aspects –

1.       Explaining a Brief: How do I frame my question to get the best answer?

For illustration purposes, let’s us say the question is “Locate the positioning of a new brand line extension in the market for brand X”. This statement can be further dissected into three questions:
·       Current Brand Saliency: What does brand X stand for? My extension can’t be too far away from it?
·       White Spaces: What are some white spaces around brand X that this new line extension will target?
·       Immediate Line Extension Positioning Opportunities: How can I prioritize these different white spaces for my new line extension?

Now see below how these questions are translated into simple requests for the research brief
Jargon – What you speak?
Plain Spoken – what you actually need?
What you do research wise?
Current Brand Saliency
What is the perception of brand X in the market?
See on which brand attributes does brand X lead against competition
White Spaces
Which attributes are currently not owned by any brand?
 Identify attributes not owned by any brand (i.e. all brands have 50% or lower association)
Immediate Line Extension Positioning Opportunities
What is the perception of brand X on the “white spaces”
Locate which attributes the line extension can position itself on

2.       Suggesting methodologies: What scale/scope of research do I need?

We will cover these topics in details one by one in later posts. Here is quick cheat sheet of different methodologies for the key business questions you may be thinking about

Existing SKUs/ Brands
Nielsen data: Look at the Average Selling price versus competition
Market mix Modelling: See the impact of price changes: Price sensitivity graphs
Price Pack Architecture: Price sensitivity graphs
A/B Testing (this is mostly in Ecommerce domain)
New Product
Price Sensitivity Monitor
Gabor Grangers method
Conjoint (Optimization)
Profit Pool Analysis
Logo/ Design
Qualitative: Concept/Copy Testing
Quantitative: Concept/Copy Testing
Features/ Attributes
Usage and Attitude Study (also called A&U, U&A etc.)
Habits and Practices Study (e.g. diary based, sometime through panels etc.)
Trade Off Exercise: Conjoint (Optimization)
Promotions/ Campaigns
New campaign
Qualitative: Concept/Copy Testing
A/B Testing (this is mostly in Ecommerce domain)
Conjoint (Optimization)
Existing campaign
Market Mix Modelling
Ad tracking
LINK test (there are several such trademark studies available through traditional research providers)
Lift Calculation (Mostly in the tech/digital and E-Commerce domain)
Medium/ Platform (TV, Digital, OOH etc.)
Market Mix Modelling
Attribution Modelling (Mostly in the tech/digital and E-Commerce domain)
Place/ Medium
Traditional Channels
Channel Optimization
Market Mix Modelling
Nielsen Dashboards: Nielsen data can provide time series growth and distribution metrics
Attribution Modelling (Mostly in the tech/digital and E-Commerce domain)

You will notice that segmentation isn’t mentioned here – because it’s an expensive and elaborate exercise to do. You don’t sound smart by suggesting segmentation as a first solution to a business problem. Any brand manager would have access to the profiles of key segments in the market. A good segmentation is valid for 2-4 years depending how mature the market is. The more mature/stable the market, the longer segmentation is valid (e.g. US/Europe are mature markets versus Vietnam/India which are emerging markets).

3.       Reading data: Know how to read data?

Reading data across different types of consumers is called ‘Cuts’ or ‘Banners’. Some key cuts that you should always keep in mind are as follows –
Key Consumer Segments
Brand Users
All Respondents
Seg A
Seg B
Seg C
Own Brand
Comp 1
Age, gender, ethnicity, region, etc.
New Users
Loyal Users

A.      Total number is generally misleading, e.g.
·       There are consumers aged 18-20 yr and then there are some older ones at 50-55 yr
·       The average age would be 30 yr
·       In reality – there isn’t any consumer aged 30, so reading averages is dangerous
B.       Be careful in reading demographic data. E.g. Reading across ethnicity is pretty common in US, while it is unethical in EU
C.       Reading across consumer segments is important, as brands take decisions by keeping in mind only the “Key Strategic Segment”, remember – you can’t target all


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