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Five principles that can help drive brand growth

Kantar Millward Brown has developed a brand guidance programme to help companies compete in today's fast-moving world

The age of 24/7 access to data has changed the world of brand tracking significantly and many marketers want clarity on which metrics to measure. Focusing on fast access to the metrics that matter is the smart approach that will translate into brand growth.

Focusing on long-term indicators that move quickly in the short term will help brands gain competitive advantage. Combining a small number of metrics from consumer surveys and supplementing them with search and social data provides the fast feedback needed to drive brand growth in the short and long term.

Kantar Millward Brown has developed a brand guidance programme to help you compete in today's fast-moving world.

1. Act quickly to gain competitive advantage

Brands that receive information fast and then make good, real-time decisions based on that feedback will have the best chance of gaining a competitive advantage.

Here's one example of how fast feedback from search or social data can help marketers if they are focusing on the right metrics. A big food brand recently launched a new ad campaign that performed below expectations. The brand, which was focused on generating high frequency, started the campaign using 15-second edits instead of the stronger 30-second edits it had already tested. Within the first week, social and search data signalled that the impact and efficiency of the campaign spend was extremely weak and well below expectations.

In this case, these early warning signals would have acted as a trigger for a deeper exploration of the creative mix before more of the campaign budget was spent.

The research would have revealed that the 15-second edits were not successfully conveying the fairly complex creative idea or linking it clearly to the brand. Going with the 30-second ads would have been more expensive but the ads would have been more impactful, and well worth the investment.

Without this insight, the brand continued to spend a total of $17m behind a weak campaign over the upcoming weeks, with little result.

It was apparent early on that the campaign performance was below expectations

Source: Kantar Millward Brown

2. Be first to mind when it matters

The Ehrenberg Bass institute has long argued for the importance of salience or mental availability, which has been reinforced by Byron Sharp's book, How Brands Grow.

Kantar Millward Brown knows the importance of salience for brand growth. Combining data from two of the world's largest databases (brand equity data from Kantar Millward Brown's BrandZ with behavioural shopper data from Kantar Worldpanel) proves that salience has a very strong relationship with volume share.

If a brand comes easily to mind for consumers at the point of purchase, more people will choose to buy it. Given its importance, and its potential to move rapidly, salience should be a key measure for brands to monitor continuously.

Generating high salience for a brand may be desirable but it's not easy. One aspect that can be helpful for a brand is to have distinctive assets. McDonald's is a highly salient brand around the world; in the US its salience index (from BrandZ) in 2016 was 241, nearly twice as high as its nearest competitor.

In this example, neuroscience techniques were used to uncover which key brand assets trigger important brand associations in consumers' minds. It showed that McDonald's is helped by having several strong assets that can be used across different platforms. The Golden Arches, Ronald McDonald, and the brand's carton of fries are all strongly and intuitively associated with McDonald's.

Growing salience will help brand grow share

Source: Kantar Millward Brown/BrandZ equity data and Kantar Worldpanel behavioural data

McDonald’s has three very strong assets

Source: Kantar Millward Brown/BrandZ 2016

3. Identify what drives sales now and into the future

So while salience is extremely important, it would be a mistake to assume it's all that matters.

A five-year analysis of BrandZ data revealed that brands that increase their salience are more likely to grow, but brands that are also meaningfully different are more likely to grow share faster.

The importance of this combination of being salient, meaningful and different underpins all our thinking about brands, and helps lead to clear, focused recommendations on how and where to invest in the brand. However, changes in measures like difference and meaningful tend to happen slowly, so these do not need to be monitored continuously in the same way as salience; instead they should form the underpinning of any deeper dive strategic work.

Brands that are salient and meaningfully different grow bigger, faster

*Survey-based measure Source: Kantar Millward Brown/BrandZ

4. Be seen to be meaningfully different to drive profits

Brands that are meaningfully different can also command price premiums, resulting in higher profits.

Some brands overemphasise market share, resulting in excessive discounting to reach targets, which may drive sales but not necessarily profits. By integrating attitudinal survey data with actual behavioural purchasing data from our New Zealand Fly Buys shopper panel it was possible to demonstrate how much more a brand that is perceived to be different – like Purina One in New Zealand – can command in terms of price relative to its competition.

Connecting brand equity with real purchase behaviour can deliver integrated insights that help marketers create both strategies and brand plans that deliver maximum ROI from brand and trade marketing. Identifying the tangible financial benefits of actions that can be taken both in building equity and in activating at point of purchase help drive growth.

For the Pantene brand, Kantar Millward Brown's attitudinal survey data was combined with the New Zealand Fly Buys panel data at a respondent level. This identified that increasing Pantene's association with making people feel 'confident about themselves' would deliver growth of 1per cent market share, worth $4.7m. It also identified that if Pantene could improve its assortment in key retailers by using larger pack sizes to target large families, this would prevent an estimated $5.4m worth of share diverting to other brands due to pack size availability. In total, it identified share gains worth $10.2m.

In New Zealand perceived difference helps purina one justify a price over twice that of chef

Source: Kantar Millward Brown R&D study, NZ merged equity and Fly Buys behavioural data for 910 consumers

5. Know where and how to invest

At times, research recommendations may challenge brand orthodoxy and push marketers to write their own rules.

Solid research is needed to do this with confidence, but it can reap great rewards. A recent statistical analysis of a leading snack brand showed the importance of celebrity endorsement, which had been weakened over recent years. It uncovered that consumption could be increased by boosting use of the celebrity to target children with a taste message, while other channels could be used to reassure moms about the nutritional value of the brand.

The client changed its marketing programme accordingly, launching a new campaign focused on a particular sports celebrity and included a supporting scientific claim for moms. This resulted in a 19 per cent increase in market share worth $12.8m.

Business impact

Source: Kantar Millward Brown client project

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