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I’m regularly asked by CEOs, business owners and those in PE as to what the best way to leverage a brand is for the highest possible return. Those in PE will often have this as their primary driver for investing and as such I am often surprised that marketing due diligence prior to investment was not more rigorous in this regard.

That aside, one of the primary research methods for determining the future value or potential of a product of service is to determine if any existing weaknesses in the product, service or market are curtailing its potential and convert these weaknesses to opportunities.

I spoke to our chief researcher, John Hughes and we identified the following research techniques that help identify product weakness and guide marketing strategy and tactical decisions to the benefit of the business/investment.

A key metric we employ is Brand Usage and includes all those measures that describe the behaviour of a customer with respect to a product, service or market.  The following list of behavioural measures, whilst not necessarily relevant for all products or services, provide a snapshot of what techniques can be employed and include:

  • Awareness, both prompted and unprompted,
  • Trial (or ever used),
  • Purchased (ever purchased once or more times),
  • Main brand (the brand used most of the time),
  • Previous main brand (the brand I formerly used most of the time),
  • Supplementary brands (other brands I use from time to time),
  • Alternate brands (brand chosen if the main brand  is not available),
  • Reject brand (a brand a customer would never use).

This set of questions, or a subset of them, identifies the path to purchase from awareness to adoption.  Measuring each state for a product or service can reveal important deficiencies in either the product itself or the delivery model.  Analysis leads to identifiable strategies that can quickly lead to significant success and brand uplift.

It’s also possible to build switching grids and non-linear forecasting models from two of the usage questions listed above; “Main brand” and “Previous main brand”.

These analysis tools tell you the rate of churn between brands and the directions in which they flow.  The output of the analysis is a grid of proportional movements between the brands which is then totaled into a net gain (a brand in growth) or a net loss (a brand in decline).

It’s possible to build market share predictions into the future by iterating the churn rates over time; that is subtracting and adding the contributions into and out of all brands current known shares over time. The model’s assumption is that the current marketing factors remain the same. The model is non-linear because brands increase and decrease after each iteration and so the part contributions are different for each iteration.

The analysis can reveal if brands are in growth or decline, the rate of this change and the destination or source of the change.  Furthermore, the types of customers moving between brands can be described resulting in targeted approaches to the strategy outcomes of the analysis.

In our next post we look at “Image, Attitude and Perception” measurement and “Simulated Test Markets” as tools to guide marketing strategy.

Guy Bicknell


Guy Bicknell
The agency’s senior suit and more. With over 25 years brand development experience in Australia, Singapore & Japan, Guy offers the marketing knowledge, strategic insight and creative acumen needed to ensure your product & communications solutions have a winning edge.