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When you truly understand your customer — including how they perceive your brand — you can do more for them in more meaningful ways. And that’s how you grow.
With Material’s history of working with some of the world’s biggest companies, we see it all the time: When you put your customer at the center of everything you do, growth is inevitable. However, you can’t put the customer at the center of anything unless you know their wants, needs, opinions, preferences, etc. It’s an absolute must to have a deep understanding of how consumers shop within your category, as well as how they view your brand versus the competition. This is why measuring brand perception is so important.
How Brand Strategy Firms Use Surveys to Measure Brand Perception
One of the most effective ways to measure brand perception is to conduct an online survey, fielding to both panel participants and customers in your database. This dual approach offers insight into both current and potential buyers.
Here’s a look at the different modules a successful survey might contain, including the consumer insights they should be designed to capture:
- Category Drivers and Barriers: Motivations and emotional drivers, needs and functional expectations, purchase triggers
- Category Behaviors: Overall category perceptions, purchase frequency, price sensitivity, information/inspiration sources, channels for discovering new brands
- Competitive Landscape: Core brand funnel metrics for your brand and for competitors (awareness, familiarity, usage, purchase, etc.)
- Classification: Zip code, education, household income, employment status, etc.
What This Means for Marketers
Partnering with a brand strategy firm to design and field such a comprehensive survey obviously stands to benefit entire organizations — but it’s especially valuable for marketers. That’s because the insights you gather have the power to:
- Enable better targeted marketing efforts.
- Help you understand whether your product is positioned well in the market, and whether you need to adjust your strategy.
- Allow you to better assess your brand’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Equip your team with valuable data that your product team can also leverage.
- Help you assess the effectiveness of your overall value proposition.
More specifically, a well executed brand perception study will help you:
1. Profile your target audience
It’s crucial you understand your audience on a deep level — and that means you need access to rich demographics and psychographics. You’re probably pretty familiar with what demographics consist of: race, ethnicity, gender, age, education, profession, occupation, income level, marital status, etc. But what about psychographics? Psychographics are the classification of people according to their attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria. While you can think of demographics as closer to the surface, psychographics dig deeper by analyzing social class, personality characteristics, and lifestyles. A simple distinction to remember: demographics are what your customers are, while psychographics are who/why your customers are. When you understand your target audience, you’ll be better able to predict their shopping behavior and attitudes and use that information productively.
2. Understand pricing perceptions
In highly competitive markets, is it more important for your brand to have the lowest price among competitors, or to be perceived as having the lowest price? For example, Walmart and Amazon might not always offer the lowest price point on a given item, but they’re often seen as the most affordable retailers. Conversely, some luxury brands pride themselves on being seen as aspirational. The goal for these brands is to position themselves within the marketplace in a way that is considered elite and exclusive.
No matter which end of the pricing spectrum your brand falls on, it’s essential that you know how consumers view your brand’s worth to determine if public perception aligns with your strategy and goals.
3. Define brand equity
Quantifying your brand’s perceived pricing has to do with financial value, while quantifying your brand’s equity has to do with emotional value. In other words, how do your customers feel about your brand? This may sound abstract, but you can define consumer sentiments by focusing on two key concepts:
1.) Identity: How do they identify your brand within the marketplace and does it align with your desired messaging? This pertains directly with your brand’s personality, which is a combination of performance (how well it meets the functional needs of your customers) and visual brand identity (how well it meets the psychological needs of your customers). How customers align with both aspects of your brand’s identity greatly informs how you communicate it. Defining (and refining) your brand’s core values through effective messaging will help calibrate how consumers react to it on a visceral level.
2.) Relationship: The final – and most coveted – aspect of your brand equity is how much of a connection your customers have with your brand. How can you forge a relationship that resonates beyond purchasing? Ideally, you want customers who are actively sharing and connecting with others who associate with your brand. Does your brand have the potential to convert these customers into a following? If so, your brand transcends being just a product, and ends up becoming a shareable experience.
4. Understand drivers and barriers
What are the drivers and barriers that affect how customers engage with your brand? Understanding their motivation will allow you to convert the curious (those who are willing to initiate a trial run) into the committed (customers who maintain loyalty). These drivers and barriers frequently include pricing (is your brand too expensive?), interface (too complicated to use/understand?), risk (are customers afraid to commit?), urgency (is it really needed?), and trust (is it authentic?). Profiling your customers, calibrating your pricing perception, and defining your brand’s equity all coalesce into clarifying these drivers and barriers that motivate — or dissuade — brand trial and long-term loyalty.
5. Validate white space opportunities
White Space is where unmet and unarticulated needs are uncovered to create innovation opportunities — in other words, areas of potential that your brand isn’t currently taking advantage of. These areas can be used to identify an entirely new market, or to map incremental innovation within an existing product or service. Either way, White Space can ultimately define a new source of customer value that can then be translated to economic value. A deep understanding of your customers’ values will enable your brand to enter these new and valuable spaces.
Remember: It’s all about insights. When you truly understand your customer — including how they perceive your brand — you can do more for them in more meaningful ways. And that’s how you grow.