Editor' note: Elliot Savitzky is senior vice president at TRC Market Research. He can be reached at esavitzky@trcmarketresearch.com.

Brand, advertising and market tracking are vital to the success of any business, whether it be a fast-food franchise or a utilities provider. If you don’t know what’s happening in your particular sector of the market, how can you plan, strategize and future-proof your or any business?

For marketers, those of you entrusted with generating and acting upon market data, it is critical you have a complete understanding of tracking studies.

To help with this, our how-to guide for tracking studies has been divided into three easily digested sections that will provide you with all the information you need. In this issue in Part 1, we will cover the reasons for conducting tracking research and provide detailed descriptions of the principal trackers used. In Parts 2 and 3 next issue, we will cover key metrics, how to control variables, how to analyze data and, of greatest importance, how to effectively report the findings of any analysis.

While methodologies have evolved and adapted – from landline phones in the old days to online panels today – the desire and need to frequently, if not constantly, monitor a market remains necessary to provide relevant input to the executive dashboard and is the standard by which the performance of marketing teams and agencies are evaluated.

So, why conduct a tracking study? Are you concerned about your position in the competitive landscape? Worried about brand equity? Are you about to launch a new ad campaign? Are you planning to introduce a new product or line extension? Have you revised your product formulation? Do you want to test a heavy-spending media plan? Are you going to test the market with a new product?

All of these are valid objectives for conducting some form of market tracking. How you design and conduct a tracki...