What are Brand Tracking Studies

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July 7, 2012

Brand tracking studies are used by marketers to help them monitor the health of a brand, looking at what consumers and the media are saying about the brand via social media, blogs, and other channels.  Brand tracking studies can look at a lot of different issues, and follow several different channels.  Usually, studies look at awareness, usage, brand perception, and the intent that consumers have when they purchase a specific brand.

What Can This Information be Used For?

The information that marketers and brand managers gather can be used for several purposes:

  • Awareness: Having and understanding of consumer awareness of your brand is important.  Awareness covers two categories – brand recall, and brand recognition.  Having a high level of recognition is a good start, but you should aim to have your brand be the first one to come to mind (high brand recall) when a consumer is asked about a certain kind of product or service.
  • Usage: Tracking brand usage helps you determine what market share you have, and what share of a consumer’s wallet you’ve earned.  This is useful to help you determine how successful a brand is.  Success does not always mean maximum market share – a high end product that is purchased only by a small percentage of the market, but attracts repeat custom from those specific consumers, can still be called a success.
  • Brand Perceptions: Understanding how consumers perceive your brand, and what none product associations they have, can be useful for building your brand image.  Sometimes, a consumer’s attitude towards a brand can be changed because of the actions of a parent company or a major supplier.  This is the sort of thing that brand tracking studies can help you spot and deal with in a timely manner.
  • Purchase intent: If backed up by plenty of information about context, timing, and availability, surveying consumers about their future purchase intents can be an accurate way of predicting future behaviour.

Brand tracking studies are a long term initiative.  The best way to protect your brand is to continually collect information, and keep a long-term rolling snapshot of the status of your brand.  This allows you to control for unusual activities and seasonal changes, whilst still having a good idea of what’s going on within your industry niche.

Running long term studies can be expensive, however.  If you don’t have room in your budget for such a large study, then consider focusing your studies on specific areas.  If your product is a durable good with a long purchase cycle, then you will be able to get away with less frequent tracking.  If you are competing in a niche with a lot of activity, and a continuous stream of new products and new competitors, then you may want to, at the very least, monitor the niche during periods of high sales.  Every company and every product is different; but gathering “too much” information is a far better mistake to make than gathering too little.

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