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and Branding Research Examples
JTWack & Company conducted its first customer satisfaction
research in 1982. The topic? What was then a new product,
personal computers. The client? Consumer
Reports magazine for which we have done survey-based
brand comparison analyses in a host of product and service
categories, including HMOs, financial decision making, hotels,
weight loss programs, and the first national survey of users
of condoms (in the context of the AIDS crisis in the late
In addition, we have customer-based performance assessment
programs underway with hospitals, medical practices, colleges,
and schools. The firm recently designed a satisfaction measurement
system tied to compensation for a major telecommunications
firm. We have also developed statistical models to predict
customers most likely to be lost so that our clients can
target retention interventions. In short, we have considerable
experience with satisfaction surveys and customer retention
studies — from questionnaire design and scale choices,
to creative data presentations and retention programming.
If you're new to satisfaction measurement, scroll down
to see an example of Importance-Performance (or quadrant)
Analysis. For this type of research, we obtain customers'
ratings of performance on selected criteria and then derive
statistically the relative importance of each criterion
to customers' overall satisfaction. The graphic below is
a powerful way for clients to see where performance is strong
and weak, and to identify those areas deserving more attention.
In this case, only five of what could be dozens of service
characteristics are located with respect to two dimensions:
their performance score, and their importance to customers.
The area that most draws managers' attention is at the lower
right, the area of high importance but low performance.
In this example, the client should focus on "responsiveness"
in order to improve overall satisfaction.
An extension of this approach, known as Value Analysis,
extends this idea to a competitive context: gauging satisfaction
in comparison to competitors.
Image or Brand Analysis
What is this Image Research stuff? A major component of
market analysis is the assessment of customers' perceptions
of the organization, and its products and/or services. This
assessment can take various forms, including:
- Image Analysis: How
customers perceive the client organization.
- Gap Analysis: A comparison
of the organization's image among key customer groups
(e.g., prospective/current customers) or relative to a
desired image (e.g., "75% of alumni should agree
we are diverse").
- Market Positioning:
A comparison of the client organization to its competitors.
JTWack & Company employs both qualitative and quantitative
techniques when it conducts market research. In the qualitative
mode, individual depth interviews or focus groups can yield
insights into customers' views. Qualitative research usually
complements quantitative research. It can be used to guide
the development of questions or assist in developing a deeper
understanding of the quantitative results. Quantitative
techniques generally refer to surveys and the means (paper,
phone, web) of data collection.
Simple Image Analysis
Quantitative studies of image build from multivariate research
techniques developed in cognitive and social psychology.
Briefly, attributes relevant to the client organization
are identified (e.g., well-known, leader, large). Then a
sample (usually a minimum of several hundred is desirable
for statistical precision) is drawn and one of several techniques
is used to measure respondents' perceptions via a survey.
The key measure is the average image. The chart below is
one way of showing the organization's image in a graphical,
tangible way that moves the discussion out of the realm
of opinion and toward objectivity. In addition to the mean,
sometimes the amount of variation informs the degree of
market consensus or uniformity of view.
Gap Analysis and Market Positioning
Gap segmentation (or profiling) and positioning studies
are extensions of simple Image Analysis. Gap Analysis refers
to the comparison of images held by different groups, and
Market Positioning is a comparison of the organization's
image to that of competitors. Consider the graphic below.
In the context of a Gap Analysis, profiles A and B might
represent the images of the organization held by two different
groups or constituencies. Examples in an educational setting
might include the school's younger alumni versus older alumni,
or faculty versus students, or students accepting versus
In the above example, groups A and B differ most in their
views of the institution with respect to the characteristics
nearer the top and share greater consensus with respect
to the items nearer the bottom. These results would provoke
a number of important strategic questions, including:
- "Are we OK with the groups' discrepant images with
respect to those items nearer the top?"
- "In the areas where there is consensus, is that
the image we want to have, or do we want to drive the
image in a different direction?"
Answers to these questions begin to drive strategy. In
most cases, the first question applies to every item, whether
the perception reflects reality or not. Depending on the
answer, the solution to changing image lies with resetting
perceptions through communications, or with changing reality,
Extensions to the Model
JTWack & Company can extend the above general approaches
in numerous ways (e.g., compare more than two groups' views).
Indeed, in the case of a positioning study, there are usually
several organizations being compared.
Another use: Many corporate clients track image annually.
In these cases, line A could represent the baseline, and
line B the measure of change the following year.
In one school's survey of its alumni, line A was "their
views of the school when they attended" and B was "their
views of the school today." This proved an interesting
way to gauge in what areas alumni viewed the school had
changed. There was also a line C, which represented how
alumni would like the school to be viewed. The gaps between
current and desired views helped guide image priorities.
Quantitative techniques offer several advantages in Image
Analysis over qualitative approaches alone. For instance,
quantitative image measurement permits organizations to:
- Test the relevance of specific aspects of image.
- Make more precise statements (e.g., twice as many people
view us as _____ than _____).
- Characterize differences in the views among market
segments more accurately.
- Obtain an objective picture that helps management, staff,
and boards move quickly beyond personal opinion and "gut
feelings," to agreement on image goals.
“Old marketing says to shout louder. New Marketing
says to listen better and act smarter.”