And, of course, by stating the obvious corollary: that you can squander your hard-earned equity by using it to subsidize misconceptions. Several years ago, Bozo;Allen & Hamilton* conducted a survey of companies which have had varying degrees of success in new product Introduction, In order to arrive at an understanding of what we called “best practices” that is, what differentiated the companies which succeeded more often than others in the new products development process. To talk about the results would require more than the time I have here, but I’d Like to begin this discussion by sharing at least one useful point with you.
Success in new product introduction is increasingly associated with the expenditures of money earlier in the development process. And, although there are many ways to spend that money, one of the most obvious is on a more deliberate examination of brand -what we might call “brand testing” as a preface to “new product testing. ” * National Analysts was a division of Bozo;Allen & Hamilton for 22 years, until April 1, 1992 when it became an independent business entity. 2 I plan to spend most of the time allotted me today in talking about research techniques that minimize risk in this sort of brand research enterprise.
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But before I o, I need to Join the swelling ranks of marketing lexicographers who define terms like brand and brand equity. I don’t propose any provocative definitions. When I speak of brand, I am talking here about the set of images and associations linked to a commercial identity which: ; Distinguish it from others ; Create specific consumer expect- The common denominator is, of course, goodwill, but it’s hard to imagine an algorithm that successfully models and values all those aspects of equity in dollar terms, since the relationships are complex and the predictor variables are sometimes crude.
Brand valuation per SE is a concept more interesting to those who aim to sell or acquire brands than to those who seek to lever them, so I will generally confine my remarks to the latter by talking about the role of disciplined thinking and research in successful brand extensions. Actions and ; Promote some behavioral orientation (I. E. , to buy or avoid) When I use the term “brand equity’ one I personally like because it’s very expressive, even though imprecise I am referring to the stored value built up in a advantage.
What makes that value hard to quantify, especially before the fact, is that it can be realized in a variety of ways: 1. Brand Resilience: Resistance to ewe competitors in the category 2. New Product Trial: Increased consumer willingness to try new products or line extensions under that name what you might think of as “referred equity’ 3. Brand Premium: Consumer willing-news to pay a premium for your current product or a new one under that name 4.
Channel Leverage: Increased or sustained access to distribution channels I think we need, first, to acknowledge that the process of conversing about brand equity has been, in many cases, a lively exchange of anecdotes among old brand warriors: “Let me tell you about the time Minute Maid launched orange soda” and How about the time Sunniest stretched to fruit candy extensions? ” and so on. And like any process that builds on examples and old yarns, there is always the risk that we will be more canny in our retrospective assessment than in our predictions.
We can always find a logic or a set of brand boundaries to explain either success or failure. I contend that if Jell Pudding Pops had failed, a lot of us would have said, muff see, Jell has a room temperature or shelf stable equity, and those folks at General Foods didn’t recognize that. ” Now if this seems unduly cynical, I can only say in defense that we need to take mind ourselves continually that a lot of these brand ventures or adventures -can go in more than one way, depending upon how well we execute and market them. Brand heredity’ is important, of course; I’m not arguing that General Foods can necessarily put the name Maxwell ABOUT NATIONAL ANALYSTS National Analysts, Inc. Is a research and consulting organization providing marketing guidance to corporations in a range of industries and product categories. Originally established as an independent entity in 1943, National Analysts was acquired by Bozo;Allen & Hamilton Inc. , the international management and technology consulting rim, in 1970.
In 1992, National Analysts once again became an independent, privately-owned company with a continuing focus on marketing research and strategic consulting Throughout its long history, National Analysts has addressed a wide range of business problems, earning a reputation for methodological innovation and unusual success in handling challenging and complex assignments. It is distinguished by a unique balance of research and consulting resources, and a professional staff whose methodological skills are complemented by depth of market knowledge and industry experience.
House on coffee cake or that Also can come a personal deodorant. But it is possible to fail with a plausible extent-soon (like Welch Grape Jelly Donuts) and to succeed against odds with the wrong name and the right product for instance, the Honda automobile. Like certain did-eases, brand misconceptions are a function of unfortunate “genes” and some tactical errors in living, and it’s not always clear which set of factors account for the greatest proportion of the variance.
I say this because I want to unburden the research community of some of the heavy responsibility they’ve shouldered in this process. We can be good advance scouts, but we can’t sweep all the mines or survey What, then, is a reasonable goal for us as marketers and researchers? Well, our primary goal should be to learn as much as we can about the way consumers view our brand competence and our brand personality or style, and then along with that, what sort of permission consumers will extend to us as we prepare to enter neighboring territories.
A number of researchers have surfaced with claims to proprietary techniques, but my impression is that, in fact, many of us are doing largely the same thing because, like the automobile or the transistor, timely discoveries tend to get made in more than one place at the same time. The analogy may be forced because, to my knowledge, no truly new research tools have yet been invented in this arena. What we are doing is recombining established techniques in more thoughtful and systematic ways.
And that may be the best we can hope for, at least in the near term. One caution I’d raise about the limitations of the discipline is that because no two 3 brands are alike, no rigid formula for researching them will apply. To revive the disease metaphor, a good diagnostician decides what information he needs based on patient presentation and does not necessarily submit each patient to the same battery of tests in the same order. This is one of the things that stands between good market research and the development of a rigidly reliable brand instrument.
On the other hand, there are some rules of logic and research progression that should guide our approach Step 1 in the process is typically a qualitative phase designed to help you understand your brand character and the sort of license and boundaries which the character seems to impose. These sessions tend to include a lot of ideation and projection, and, though the approach is not help management to think about its brand in new, sometimes startling ways. Step 2 is quantification of the things we have earned or the hypotheses we have formed in the qualitative phase.
The yield from that two-step research process should ultimately be a few selected concepts for testing (following whatever norms or customs you feel comfortable with). I do a disservice to the complexity of the process by referring to only two steps, and I’ll try to remedy that a little later. I should probably also state the obvious point here that careful secondary analysis must be carried out in con-Junction with the research, and that, at any point along the way, it is legitimate to use that analysis as a basis for narrowing the field of intendeds (prod-cuts or categories) which you subject to market research.
Let’s talk then about your research goals -what must you attempt to learn about the character of your brand? 4 Brand character tends to involve two different elements brand competence and brand personality and you need to examine both in order to understand the raw material at your disposal. If your brand is Coke or Aquatic circa 1980, I think there’s very little question about what your competence is, or was.
On the other hand, if you have what I like to call a “horizontal” brand, like Heinz, that has already extended laterally in a variety of efferent categories, it may not be easy to get a firm grasp of how consumers define your competence. Is it condiments? Is it barbeques? Is it piquancy? And so on. The more diffuse the brand, the more difficult it can be to identify the common denominator. Unless you have a brand that is literally defined by a single product -what Deed Dauber has referred to as brand prototypically it’s wise to be sure you you have, since it tends to define your opportunities.
The other important element of your brand character that needs careful examination is personality or style. A good friend of mine and a master of creative brand hinging, Ron Mogul, likes to describe it as the way your brand “walks, talks and dresses” and I think that’s a nice way to put it. IBM is sober, serious, responsible, masculine, smart but rigid. Jell is childlike and playful, enthusiastic and fun, but not reckless. It doesn’t matter where these images come from. They can arise from your product design, your technology, your packaging, your sales reps, your ads, your spokesmen, your target audience, your product applications.
But they’re as real and as liberating or delimiting as your own personalities. Just as people are generally made uncomfortable when rinds or relatives behave out-abstracter, are consumers made uncomfortable by a brand that behaves in surprising and inconsistent ways. This kind of information has both strategic and tactical implications since it tells you where you can legitimately extend, as well as the style to which your customers have grown accustomed. Brands that enter extension categories with competence but the wrong style may not succeed unless they create a new brand or supporting identity to bridge the image gap.
Jell cannot, I submit, do a true gourmet mousse, even though the technical capability is there to support it. Sober, button-down, adult IBM imputing toys unless it took pains to spawn an intermediating brand identity. It’s important to remember that whether we speak of brand competence dimensions or brand style, we are generally not talking only about the kinds of product performance attributes that companies normally think of when they think of brand image tracking for example, “good-tasting,” “creamy texture,” etc.
One of the big leaps for everyone involved in brand extension is learning to separate the name on the package from the thing inside it long enough, at least, to help you think about what the brand could mean when you put it on another substance entirely. If you were attempting to track the image of Raga Pasta Sauce, for example, you would consider recipe dimensions: Rich Tomato-eye Thick Sweet Properly spiced Has fresh ingredients, etc. If, on the other hand, you wanted to learn more about the character of the Raga brand, you’d probably focus more may not recognize or which they may not truly feel for months or years.
Unfortunately, the issue, and the data, both get muddier as the chasm between your present location and your target narrows. Indeed, there comes a point where the only valid answer is “It depends. ” It depends entirely on execution in the new category ND continued vigilance at home base. For all my misgivings about the question, I think we’re obligated to ask it in some way, I. E. : “Would a line of ‘X’ products by company, less, or have no effect? ” And maybe, in time, we will have some reasonably sensitive norms to help us make solid use of the answers.
But, if we do ask questions like that, I think we should acknowledge, going in, that this question is only a dim light in a foggy channel, not sensitive radar. In my experience with studies of this kind, one of the overwhelming challenges and this probably applies to all complex market research, by the way is creating ND managing expectations. These studies, when properly done, are expensive, and they are as unsettling as therapy. It’s the point where corporations meet themselves face-to-face, and sometimes there are 9 revelations, pleasant or not.
There is also the risk that people will expect a program like this to yield a set of finished product concepts, and I think most of us here know that this sort of process is going to produce only a mission statement, not a blueprint. Earlier today, someone mentioned that his brand research experiences had involved him primarily with management, and that only now was he interacting more closely tit the market research department. That has not been my own experience. On the contrary, I believe that some of these projects flounder or are underfeed precisely because senior management is shielded or disengaged from the process.
My final word of counsel, therefore, is that researchers and brand managers do what they can to ensure that the findings bubble up as high in the organization as possible. This process of “self-discovery,” which brand equity research tends to involve, is one that should command unusually close company. The ultimate brand manager is, after all, the CEO, and it’s that individual how’s ultimately responsible to the shareholders for a misstep under the family name. 8 transcendent attributes that incorporate personality or style as well as broad competence.
Authentically Italian A tomato expert Pioneering Fancy Sophisticated Contemporary You’d be asking: Is Raga a brand that wears Jeans or dresses? Is this brand more like Mama Leone or Angelica Huston? By the way, if you look closely you’ll notice that there isn’t always a clear distinction between “competence” and “style” and, of course, there needn’t be. What’s important is that we capture the brand’s (confirmedness) area of expertise and the manner n which the brand delivers it. Fred Astaire and Nurture were both great dancers!
We try to elicit personality dimensions with projective techniques, and those techniques tend to work quite well, so long as you have a tolerance for poetry and improvisation. Since the sort of work we do in these sessions requires a fair degree of abstraction, we like to screen for people who seem comfortable with projective exercises and all they imply. The pre-gumption is that people with a flair for metaphor and flexible thinking look at products much the way others do -but they approach our market research knowledge and a degree of “irrationality’