The Future of Brand Health Tracking
(And what it means for people working in Insights)
Patrick Bruin, IKEA, and Sjoerd Koornstra, The House of Insights
Brand Health Tracking is currently under pressure in (some) companies. The current Covid crisis has worsened this situation. Some companies are spending less or hardly at all on marketing activities and are slowing down on the measurement as well. Since our sales are under pressure, we are hardly communicating, so why should we measure the brand health? The fact that more data comes available, structured and unstructured, has had an impact cutting back on Brand Health Measurement as well. In this article we will explain why we think Brand Health Tracking will be important in the future. Based upon our broad experience within several companies as well as in depth desk research we will paint the framework and conditions for a sound Brand Health Tracking system. We will also discuss some misunderstandings around Brand Health Tracking which we have seen in practice. This is related to scope of measurement and how it should be used within companies. We will then also indicate the consequences for the Company Insights managers.
Strong Brands are becoming more important than ever before!
The spectrum of sales channels is expanding. Sales via online platforms as well direct will increase. These sales are supported by personalized marketing and promotion campaigns. Consumers can be influenced at more moments and via different means. Social media influencing will increase but also will digital / bot assistants. Virtual shops, in which the real shopping experience is simulated, will have an impact on purchase decisions. Competitive brands are very active to steal your consumer. Consumers are more often than before bombarded with competitive messages. The stronger your brand, the less the consumer is susceptive for temptation. And how do you know that your brand is strong in the mind of the consumer? By measuring on a frequent basis.
When to do and not to do Brand Health Tracking
When should you conduct a Brand Health Tracking and when not? The main reason is that the brand should be an important factor in the purchase decision process. A brand can give a consumer emotional and functional reasons to buy. A brand can stand for quality or safety, e.g., in the auto industry. But it can also stand for bonding, a family car, or premiumness, a luxury car or courage, high speed. If a brand is only an obliged labelling like a private label brand in a discounter, and for example price is the main purchasing factor, then a brand health tracking is less useful. The brand will not be built to play an important factor in the purchasing process. More tactical research can be sufficient, for example on shelf attention.
A brand should also have a minimum sized position in order to find sufficient consumers for valid feedback. If the brand is in the development stage, low trial rates, in combination with category building, then a launch tracker is to be preferred. This tool has a focus on category entry points (drivers / barriers) and for brand level on awareness and purchase intention.
Another factor is that management should be willing to take decisions based upon the outcomes. In other words, the brand health tracking should be used as a management tool. If the management utilizes its own experience and gut feeling as the main source for decision making then a brand heath tracking is not necessary. In this case tactical research as well as sales monitoring (e.g., retail audit tracking) can be sufficient.