How A&U studies help marketing and R&D teams

Editor’s note: Kerry Juhl is the vice president of marketing and strategy at SIVO Insights. This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared under the title “Identifying Opportunities with Attitude & Usage Studies.”

In the always-evolving landscape of consumer behavior, understanding the perceptions around how people feel about your brand, the reasons why they choose it and the context for how they use it can unlock future growth opportunities. 

For instance:

  • If you find certain demographic segments are not aware of your brand, you now have new consumer targets to consider.
  • If you find that your product is less effective than the competition, you now have fodder for renovation ideas.
  • If you learn that your product works best in certain situations, you now have new marketing inspiration.

A proven consumer research methodology that stands out for gaining this type of foundational learning is an attitude and usage (A&U) study.

What is an attitude and usage study?

You can think of an attitude and usage study as delving deeply into the “who, what, where, why, when” of your brand and category. More specifically, this is a comprehensive research approach that often combines qualitative and quantitative techniques to uncover perceptions, preferences, motivations and usage patterns of your (and your competitor's) consumer base. Because of the breadth it covers, the data collected and the insights gained become a foundational reference for insights, R&D and marketing teams for many months or years.

What do attitude and usage studies reveal?

Category users

This involves understanding the basic demographic details of the users in your category (age, gender, income, etc.) alongside psychographic factors like values, beliefs and lifestyle choices.

Consumer attitudes

You can fully understand consumer perceptions about the category, your brand, competitors and the overall market. This helps you explain your market share by gauging your brand’s “share of mind.” It reveals how your brand stacks up in consumers’ minds on important factors such as product quality, customer service and other unique benefits, relative to the competition.

Usage patterns

You can examine how consumers interact with your product or service, including frequency of use, when and where it is used, purchase motivations and delights/pain points. This context reveals insights that inspire ideas to improve the usage experience.

Trend analysis

Although an attitude and usage research study analyzes products or services at a point in time, it can be re-fielded at regular intervals to track changes in consumer attitudes and behaviors over time to identify market shifts or emerging trends in the category. This is particularly useful in dynamic categories where there are always new competitors entering the market.

How marketing and research and development teams can benefit from A&U studies

Focused efforts on the purchase funnel

You will discover the percentage of your consumer target that is aware or has tried your brand, is a repeat purchaser or is already loyal to your brand. Understanding this, relative to your competition, will help marketers decide where and how to spend their marketing support budget to drive sales effectively and efficiently.

Innovation and renovation ideas

Insights from A&U studies can fuel product improvements, innovations and new launches that resonate with consumer desires, address usage pain points and deliver on unmet needs.

Create a competitive advantage

Knowing where your products and services stand in comparison to the competition allows you to capitalize on your strengths and unique benefits by emphasizing via packaging claims and marketing messages. Identifying and addressing any shortcomings allows the team to close critical gaps that may be keeping you from gaining market share.

Long-term growth

Ongoing A&U research, in waves at regular intervals (depending on the level of activity in your industry or category), provides a pulse on evolving consumer and competitive trends, ensuring that your team can stay agile and responsive to changing market dynamics. This helps to foster and maintain growth over time.

Onboarding new employees

A bonus to having a comprehensive picture of the market dynamics and how your brand performs within the market is that it provides a great basis for onboarding new employees into your organization. It also paints a picture to get all employees aligned on growth strategies that are rooted in foundational market and consumer insights.