Before looking at the important role of branding market research and why it is essential for smart, strategic business decision-making, it is helpful to take a step back and look at a related concept that for some companies like Apple, Google, Coca Cola, Microsoft, GE, Amazon, IBM and several others is worth billions of dollars: brand awareness.
Essentially, brand awareness is the extent and degree to which customers (B2B, B2B, and B2B2C) recall or recognize a brand, and more specifically, are able to associate or equate certain characteristics, qualities, conclusions and feelings about a brand.
Ideally and in most cases, brand awareness is a positive asset. For example, Google invests hundreds of millions of dollars a year on thousands of marketing, advertising, sponsorship and branding/co-branding initiatives, in order to generate more brand awareness (and its various products/solutions within brand categories, like Pay Per Click advertising, online cloud storage, business communication tools, etc.).
However, as we all know, sometimes brand awareness is a liability rather than a benefit. Think of Exxon and the infamous Valdez oil spill, or more recently, Morgan Stanley during the “Great Recession.” Yes, these companies still exist and are profitable (especially Exxon). But the point is that widespread brand awareness can work both ways: either for a company, or in some cases, against it.
In light of this background, it is easy to understand why branding market research is as important – or arguably in some situations and cases MORE important – than conventional market research, which may (for example) focus on the demand or desirability for a new product or service. Branding market research uses tools like surveys and qualitative techniques(e.g. in-depth interviews, focus groups, etc.). to measure and analyze the if and how a company’s brand is influencing consumer decisions related to purchases, repurchases and recommendations.
Yet perhaps the most valuable aspect of branding market research, is that it uses data to affirm or, in many cases, reject assumptions that would otherwise lead to flawed decisions. For example, a company that has been operating for several years and has what it considers to be a “steady stream of happy customers” may, in fact, have a brand in desperate need of a refresh or re-boot – especially if more savvy competitors have recently entered the market, and are aggressively generating mindshare through innovative positioning and outreach strategies.
At the same time, branding market research can provide eye-opening insights regarding consumer perceptions of product, value, price and other core differentiators. For example, research may reveal that consumers in a target audience are less price sensitive than a business assumes, but are very focused on quality service.
Based on this information, the business can increase its prices and allocate additional revenues into its service offering and coverage. This is the kind of move that would be incredibly risky without branding market research – and perhaps simply impossible to justify -- but makes clear, practical sense with branding market research.
To learn more about how branding market research drives better business decisions, contact the Communication For Research team today. You’ll speak with co-CEO Colson Steber about your business goals and market research questions. Then Colson can provide feedback and give you a market research quote based on your timeline and budget.
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