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Why spicing up research gives better results

Andreas Wittenberg

Head of Sales MRA, EMEA




Designing more enjoyable surveys can help brands better understand themselves.

Our clients are very often global brands, brands that communicate across continents and cultures. They are very aware of how important it is to understand what consumers know and think about them. The problem they tend to face is that traditional research methods often fall short of doing this sufficiently well.

The research we typically see focuses on awareness questions, and questions around sponsorship and brand values; they are asked in a grid format and use the language of researchers – not consumers. On the face of it they are fairly straightforward surveys, but a deeper investigation reveals low response rates, correlating with answers and data that don’t tie back to known figures.

The task of showing this to a client can often be a daunting one. However, it is possible to show them that there is another way.

This alternative is to gather meaningful data, that can be believed and that can deliver real insight with real impact. Working collaboratively, through workshops, joint data reviews and marketing agenda discussions we seek to bring the respondent into the boardroom of our clients.

It is a survey approach designed to put respondents at the centre of the experience. Instead of asking the questions we want to know, using the language of research, without contextualization but with plenty repetition, a different kind of survey can engage with respondents in a language they understand.

Gone are long lists of questions asking which brands and sponsorships people are aware of. Gone are long ratings of brands, sponsors, and marketing values that ultimately people do not really understand. Instead, there is a new, more innovative approach to brand relations.

Fresh approaches include running a quiz, in which respondents can win and lose points, to test respondents’ sponsorship and brand awareness. Another way is to put the respondents in the mind of a CEO and ask them how they would run the business. Here they can assess and budget different sponsorship opportunities, and the values their marketing teams were creating. They can have their say on what a marketing department is doing well, and what needs to change.

In this way, brands are measured in a way that research participants can relate to. They understand a problem and are motivated to solve it.

Pilot studies testing this approach alongside traditional surveys have revealed stark results. Brand awareness is higher, as engaged people spend trying to remember. Brand differentiation is up, as considered responses identify nuanced difference, and meaningful variance is seen in perceptions and values, where before no distinctions could be made.

The result is that clients can now gauge clearly not just where their brand sits in the market, but also how they portray complicated values and business aims compared to their competitors. Brands can see where their actions tally with their marketing aims, where they might be falling short, and how they might focus future endeavours to better communicate their aims.

By creating a survey in the mindset of a respondent rather than a researcher, the result is better decisions and better understanding for brands.