Have you noticed how disconnected brand-tracking has become with actual consumer behavior? You might run a great new ad or build a new positioning in the market, and the tracker may even show an uptick in brand consideration. Nevertheless, when it comes to hard behavioral metrics (such as purchase volume), they remain unaffected.
According to a new study by Trinity Mirror, almost 70 percent of consumers don’t trust advertising and 42 percent distrust brands and view them as self-serving. Several other studies are finding similar conclusions. Despite this trend, it may be premature to say that brand advertising no longer works. Rather, the larger consensus seems to be that brands must find new ways to convey authenticity and sincerity beyond the ad. In many cases, brands are responding by focusing on brand purpose and brand experience in addition to traditional brand communication.
When it comes to brand-tracking, the problem is that most trackers are still tied to the traditional linear relationship between stated brand consideration and sales. While always a bit tenuous, the relationship made much more sense in the era of push marketing. Now, however, the consumer’s purchase decision process has fundamentally changed. More and more, consumers develop brand preference through experiences and by observing brands living up to their stated brand purpose. Not only does this new dynamic take time to measure, more importantly, but it also requires a well thought out measurement strategy. Let’s assume one of your brand propositions is “valuing the consumer’s time.” In this case, more important than measuring consideration is tracking if the consumer actually views you as valuing of their time. Furthermore, where in your transaction chain are you living up to that promise and where do you fail? Can you confirm this through behavioral data, such as a decrease in abandoned website shopping carts or fewer billing inquiries?
How Brand-Tracking Needs to Evolve
First, brand monitoring needs to be part of a larger consumer intelligence database. Integrating brand with NPS data, customer experience data and behavioral data is critical to understanding how your brand is performing. One significant advantage of this approach is that you may find that all the underlying brand principles are tracking upward, but brand consideration remains unchanged. Knowing this early may save you millions in investments on a brand strategy that is potentially not providing the market advantage you hoped for. Without tracking the underlying brand principles, you would be left wondering if the strategy is bad or if the execution is not working.
Next, build a custom brand measurement strategy. Because great brands are now structured around a unique purpose and experience, measurement strategies cannot be off the shelf. I commonly encounter brand-trackers that create more questions than they answer. While this can be spun into a positive, in pragmatic reality it wastes time and delays decisions. The underlying reason this happens is that companies fail to measure the specific changes and perceptions they are uniquely trying to affect.
Revisiting the brand proposition of “valuing the consumer’s time,” do you know how you will actually measure success on this proposition? When is the right time to ask the consumer? Is it solely the consumer’s responsibility to tell you how you are doing? What other ways can you listen to consumers besides a survey? What can you know from their behavior?
Having a clear vision of the underlying experience, behaviors, and perceptions you are trying to create and knowing how you will measure them will go a long way toward understanding how your brand is resonating in the market.