Grow Your Brand with Mental Availability

Editor's note: Automated speech-to-text transcription, edited lightly for clarity.

quantilope introduced their new brand health tracker during Wisdom Wednesday on June 21, 2023. They went through the new ways they have developed for tracking, mental availability and category entry points.

Find out what these new metrics are and how their brand health tracker can help your company grow your brand.  

Webinar transcription: 

Joe Rydholm: 

Hi everybody and welcome to our webinar, “New Brand Health Tracking: Grow Your Brand with Mental Availability.” I'm Quirk’s Editor, Joe Rydholm. And before we get started, let's quickly go over the ways you can participate in today's discussion. You can use the chat tab to interact with other attendees during the session and you can use the Q&A tab to submit questions to the presenters during the session and we'll answer as many as we have time for during the Q&A portion. Our session today is presented by quantilope. Speakers, take it away.

Alex Hall:

Yes, thank you very much for that introduction Joe. Welcome everyone to today's Quirk’s webinar on New Brand Health Tracking, Growing Your Brand with Mental Availability. I'm very much looking forward to sharing our new automated brand health tracking solution with you all in today's session.

So let's get started with some introductions. My name is Alex, I'm on the left-hand side and I'm an associate director at quantilope. I've been with quantilope for four years now, but before quantilope, I used to work at both Ipsos and GfK, some of the world's largest market research agencies. 

A large chunk of my time at both companies was spent working on tracking research. And perhaps this resonates with some of you, I would often spend countless hours working on different questionnaire versions, quality checking data while in the field and quality checking data after being input into PowerPoint. And when you actually scaled that to the questionnaire length, the number of slides in the PowerPoint and the number of markets, it becomes heavy on both the agency and for the business sponsoring the program. So we hear a lot of these challenges with traditional brand trackers. So it makes me very excited to share with you today quantilope's new brand health tracking solution.

Madita Brandhorst:

Amazing. Thanks Alex for your intro. Just to add to that, I'm Madita as Alex said, I'm on the right hand side and I'm a senior solution consultant at quantilope. Having been here for more than three years now and before quantilope used to work at Ipsos, like Alex said, one of the world's biggest market research institutes. 

And what you just mentioned, Alex, those heavy tracking processes, they definitely resonated with me. I started out my market research career during those huge brand health and ad trackers and back in the day they were based on 35 minute questionnaires covering 12 to 14 countries and it took my team and I a month to report the data back to the business. 

So I'm similarly looking forward to sharing this new automated way of tracking your brand health with you today. And maybe before we delve really into the details of our solution, Alex, I think it would be really great if you could just set us up and maybe talk through some of the foundations and also ultimate goals of brand tracking, which is basically setting up a brand for success, right?

Alex Hall:

Correct. Yes, happy to. So let's now focus on the philosophy of our brand health solution. 

So growing brands is a core function of marketing departments and advertising agencies and a lot of modern marketing has been focused on customer retention rather than acquisition. But we know from empirical evidence that gaining substantial, scalable and long-term growth comes from the following principles. 

So brands grow mainly by acquiring new customers more so than converting current customers to repeat buyers. 

Buyer profiles hardly differ across brands and your main competitors are your largest brands and these need to be taken into account while measuring your brand growth so that you can effectively diagnose the impact of your past marketing activity on category buyers and use these results to prescribe actions to improve the brand's future performance. 

Let's now dive a little deeper into them.

So the first empirical law is that brands grow mainly by penetration. Brands grow by having many more buyers who buy the brand a little more. So all marketing activities need to be for the mass market to attract new buyers. 

In the table on the right you can see market share of smartphone users. In the first data column followed by purchase intent to repurchase their next smartphone from the same brand. The loyalty figures are much higher than market share across the board. So in essence, the higher your market share, the higher your loyalty, which means that smaller brands are penalized twice; less buyers and less loyalty. So especially for them, the leading indicator of growth is not building loyalty but growing your very light or non-bias into buyers of your brand.

The second empirical law is that buyer profiles hardly differ across brands. One might think that there are large differences in demographic profiles of brands within the category, but there isn't. Brands should address all category users and not focus on a smaller target group or a specific segment. 

In the case of fast food, the buyer profiles are gonna be similar across Burger King and KFC. The sample must therefore follow a representative picture of the category. 

And the third empirical law is that your main competitors are the largest brands. You really need to understand how each of your brands are connecting with category buyers to learn and compete with them. 

For small brands such as Fritz-Kola on the right, who are a craft soda company based in Germany, it's key for them to understand Coke and Pepsi's mental availability to learn how to attract new buyers. 

So now onto brand health tracking, our new solution actually has these empirically proven laws for brand growth at the very heart.

So we can summarize these three laws into the following principles: designed for the category, analyze for the buyer and report for the brand. 

Design for the category means that we create a brand tracker that's truly representative for the category as a whole and could be used by any brand in your category to avoid biases and measurement. 

Analyze for the buyer is based on the empirical evidence that past buying experiences with your brand are predictive for brand growth. So a buyer versus non-buyer analysis will help you with creating more impactful insights and setting up your brand for growth. All of this is based on mental availability, which we'll discuss in a second. 

And then lastly, report for the brand means that your brand size is taken into account for analysis and that the metrics are adjusted to reflect that, allowing you again to make specific and actionable recommendations.

Okay, now before we get into the details of our new solution, I'd love to learn more about your experiences with brand health tracking through a quick poll. So you should now see a popup with a question about brand tracking appear. Aha, I see it. Hopefully you do too. 

So what has been your biggest challenge with traditional tracking research and the answers or the options are long and complex questionnaires, long turnaround time, too costly, results are not actionable enough or all of the above. And what I'll do is give you 30 seconds to answer that before we see the results. 

Madita Brandhorst:

So what I can see here, and I would say that's pretty much what definitely reflects my opinion on this is that a lot of people answered “all of the above” with 44% picking this, answering options closely followed by that are “results are not actionable enough,” which is what, okay now 23% of people are saying, and I must say you're kind of, it's like you read my mind. 

I or maybe we could say I had a hunch that you folks listening would say something like that because this is also from talking to our existing customers who run brand health trackers to a lot of new customers. 

I personally hear a lot of frustrations and challenges with traditional brand trackers. Not only that they are too slow to action and too costly due to operational inefficiencies, but the biggest pain point of the people I talk to and it seems similar to you folks on the line is that tracking results are not actionable enough for brand and marketing stakeholders.

So even if there is brand tracking in place in an organization, insights professionals often still don't know which way to go, which route to take in order to drive brand growth and set their brands up for success. 

Now we at quantilope we have set out to change this dilemma first and foremost by leaning on quantilope’s consumer intelligence platform. I'm not sure if some of you know it, let us know in the chat please. Because with this piece of tech we can actually fully automate tracking research end-to-end reducing both turnaround times and costs 

And we have now automated in addition and empirically validated KPIs that reflect the foundational laws of brand growth that Alex just talked us through. With these metrics we can take tracking research from being something like a look in the rear view mirror that's used in rather reactive fashion to understand how something that has already happened has performed into a truly proactive piece of research that supports your brand marketing and brand stakeholders with truly actionable insights.

Now by bringing both of these aspects together, I'm more than excited to introduce quantilope’s new brand health tracking solution which tackles both of these challenges and measures brand growth in an actionable way. 

Our solution includes a pre-study to determine which brands' motivations and attributes you should track and you should focus on in order to write those success stories for your brand. 

We have a dedicated, and from my perspective, much better brand health survey template that includes those latest empirical findings and strategic thinking and all of that is fully automated.

So there's a fully automated analysis and you can even see a glimpse of an always on insights dashboard reporting that comes with our solution and we've packaged up all of this to help you deliver more meaningful insights for your brand and marketing teams. Now brace yourselves because our solution is or tends to be radically different in some regards.

Mainly there won't be a brand funnel and there won't be a brand image matrix question with a five-point scale of agreement. We have deliberately decided to keep those traditional measures out because neither of them accurately reflects how consumers make buying decisions. Instead we will focus on two concepts that are actually proven to correlate with brand growth as measured by sales and market share data. 

And those of you who read the title of our webinar might have a hunch of what those concepts are. They are mental availability and category entry points. So in order to grow we know that a brand has to come to mind in as many buying situations as possible. And if a brand comes to mind in any of those situations, that is what we call mental availability and the buying situations that I just mentioned, they can be let's say different needs, different occasions or different motivations.

Basically everything that turns us as everyday human beings into potential category buyers, which is why we call them category entry points. And if we as insights professionals as marketers understand which situations or category entry points are most relevant for category buyers, then we can actively work on increasing our brand's connection, our brand's mental network to these situations. 

That means that our brand becomes more easily available and more often just in the situations when consumers are looking to buy a product. So while I would say that the traditional brand tracking focused more on what people were thinking about a brand in terms of brand image, we are instead focusing more on when and in which situations people think about brands and how easy it is for your brand to come to mind. 

And those two concepts and the core metrics based on these concepts are what makes the new brand health tracking truly actionable, right? Because if we learn about our bias priorities then we can actually apply those to our brands. I know this can be a bit theoretical and academic, so Alex it would be great if you could maybe help us and just explain these concepts in a bit more detail.

Alex Hall:

Yes, gladly. Alright, so now let's think about soda or soft drinks to my fellow Brits. 

Let's say you are walking down the street on your way to see an old friend and you realize how thirsty you are feeling. Our category entry point here would be feeling thirsty, but would Coke be the first thing that popped into your head? Probably not. 

You might think of water or a sports drink like Gatorade that you associate with refreshments after a sports game. But if you had seen an ad for Coke that showed someone walking down the street or on their way to meet a friend stopping to grab a coke, the next time you're in a similar situation out of nowhere you'd think to yourself, maybe I should stop and grab a Coke. And that is what mental availability is. 

Mental availability is and it goes way beyond the typical brand awareness question that you might know because what we do is measure mental availability across many different category entry points that are representative for the category. So how do we get to those category entry points?

Actually with our solution we've set up a process that leverages both artificial and human intelligence to help you understand and track the most relevant entry points for your category. 

In order to explore the most relevant category entry points, we can leverage different approaches such as your existing research, for instance any jobs to be done research that you've done in the past or a um, our video solution in fact option color where we ask participants to provide us with their examples of category entry point or three. 

We use our generative AI tool to provide us with the expansive list of category entry point inputs following a scientifically proven framework and then we augment it with human or in this case research researchers intelligence.

Next up in select we use a quantitative survey to uncover which are the most relevant category entry points for the category. And we do this using an implicit association test with the association strength, giving us a priority list of all the category entry points. 

So then finally we can take the 20 most relevant category entry points and begin to track them. 

Now coming back to the soda category, some of the most important category entry points are enjoyment, refreshment, family gatherings or parties at home, going to the cinema or simply quenching your thirst. 

So how do we connect these concepts? Mental availability and category entry points in the brand health tracking survey.

On this screen you can see how we ask for mental availability across a range of category entry points with the participant being able to select the brand so they think fits most with the state with the statements. 

And what's even better for the participant is that the survey itself is around eight to 10 minutes long in total and is optimized for any device reducing fatigue and optimizing the participant experience. 

But how, you may wonder, does this fit into the overall survey flow. So from a high level the questionnaire is split into five sections. Our mental availability module, more of which we will dive into over the next few slides. 

Brand awareness both aided and unaided which we continue to track for consistency purposes but is no longer a core component of our brand health monitoring. 

Brand associations where we uncover and monitor both category and brand specific attributes. These are measured to identify if a message has gotten through to buyers or given a brand a mental advantage in an area.

Next is brand attitudes where we get a pulse on overall brand attitude using a rating scale to quantify the level of preference all the way through to rejection. And in this section we also receive reasons for brand rejection through open-end, which it actually helps us to uncover detractor rationale. 

And then in this final module brand word of mouth we focus on peer-to-peer sharing of content about brands. So we ask participants whether or not they have shared information about the brand or if they've received or heard about the brand and whether it was positive or negative. 

So the sentiment specifically gives us additional context around changes in brand value. 

Now that we've seen the survey flow, let's turn our attention back to the mental availability KPIs, which Madita will guide us through.

Madita Brandhorst:

Gladly Alex because I think those KPIs are really the coolest thing about our solution. And the core metric in our brand health tracking solution is called mental market share. 

It takes all of those category entry points and all brands that you track into account giving you one metric that tells you exactly how present your brand is in consumer's minds. And the higher the mental market share, the stronger is a brand's mental availability. 

This metric is so cool from my perspective because it is validated against real world market share and usage data, which means that you can really become proactive with your recommendations because any positive shift on this mental market share metric that you advise and predict is likely to lead to shifts in actual sales market share data. 

How cool is that? Right? 

I think this is almost what I dreamed of when I started out in brand tracking as this is just one of four core metrics.

We have additional KPIs included to make sure that you can come up with those recommendations more easily. 

And those other KPIs include mental penetration, which tells us how many consumers have at least some mental availability of our brand. And from my experience it tends to come closest to the classic brand awareness measure with the clear distinction that of course there's not just one category queue like you would know from brand awareness but actually several category entry points which makes it much more valid, at least from my humble perspective. 

Thirdly, we have the network size which shows us how broad our brand associations for the category are. The broader the brand's mental network, the more easy it is to retrieve and this also shows us if our brand's memory structure tends to expand. For example, if we launch new communications or a new campaign or if it maybe is eroding because for some time we did not spend that much on marketing activities.

And lastly, share of mind, which is super interesting because we only focus on respondents who have at least some mental penetration of your brand. And then we take a look at which other brands your potential customers are currently thinking of. So who could be stealing your customers or who you should watch out for. 

Now without further ado, let's lift the lid on what this brand health tracking solution and specifically those KPIs could look like for you. 

I'm now going to start showing you our soda showcase. But before we go into project details and you should be able to see it right now just as kind of some information upfront, this study was built on our templated solution. So everything that you will see over the next five minutes in our template was actually automated. So there is very little manual effort that went into designing this dashboard.

And you also, in case you decide to set up a new tracker, we'll need to do basically nothing and but just let us know how you would like your tracking to be set up and then it will be fully automated giving you back time to focus on understanding the learnings and the results and taking them to action within your organization. 

It's also important to know that what I'm going to show you today is not the full picture, it's not the full analysis, it's just a glimpse and a first sneak preview of what you are going to get. However, we are more than happy to share the full results with you and we actually have the Quirk’s team here in the background who will be able to share that right after this demonstration. 

So now let me start to take you through this soda study that we did by first noting that of course while it's a category study, we always focus the reporting on one specific brand and in this case it's Diet Coke. We've also included nine key competitors including Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, Sprite and Fanta. 

This study is being run in quarterly increments and we currently already have the first two waves in and I'm going to show you the key measurements that we, that I just talked you through to make sure that we can actually learn a bit more about interpreting them. 

Let's start out with our core metric, which is mental market share here on the left. And you can see that in spring summer 2023 the mental market share for Diet Coke is actually stable at 8%. 

This metric always sums up to a hundred percent across all competitors, thereby also reflecting market share. As I mentioned, this metric is validated against sales market share and by doing a little digging on actual market share data in the U.S. in this time period, I can tell you that this metric 100% reflects the actual sales market share of Diet Coke, which is also at 8% in the U.S. based on 2022 data.

So what does that tell us? 

What I love is that I can now as an insights professional tell the Diet Coke brand team that generally their brand is performing on an unhealthy level. 

We're seeing that all of the mental availability, so what people connect to their brand and how often they might think of a brand translates really well into actual real world behavior as in buying behavior. If we saw deviation, right, potentially a higher mental market share than an actual sales market share, that might point to hampers or issues with physical availability. So maybe there's some problems with distribution or with in-store placement, but for Diet Coke as of now, it looks really good. 

Now that's not the end of what we can take out of this tracking because there's much more we can dig into. Another metric I really like to look at is network size because this tells me, or shows me actually how broad my brand's mental network is in consumer's minds. 

So what we can see here is that while Diet Coke started out with roughly eight to nine category entry points that was associated with in the first wave, it dropped to 7.7 category entry points. This is not a super alarming signal, but it tells us that some memory structures for Diet Coke seem to be eroding, right? 

So I would advise to review your media spendings, any campaigns and any activities that you have been doing in the past and to reflect on messaging here. 

Is there maybe a certain category entry point and a certain theme theme that you used to focus on in the past that you're not focusing on any more? Or is there generally the spending level decrease? 

While this is not alarming yet, I would almost use this as an early warning sign to try and see which levers to pull, which communicative category entry points to focus on to make sure that instead of having some memory structures that you wrote, we are rather setting up our brand Diet Coke for success by expanding on memory networks.

And of course, you can see the different category entry points right here, but I can tell you that Diet Coke generally has a high connection to the category entry point of being a healthy refreshment as an attribute and it seems to be less connected to more let's say impulsive or emotional category entry points like treating yourself, right? 

So one very specific idea of myself, please don't judge it too harshly, would be to say, “Hey, why not focus our campaign on how well Diet Coke works to treat yourself, right? Why not have diet soda be just as refreshing as thirst crunching and just as much of a treat as its typical standard soda but without any bad feelings associated with it without a bad conscience, right? Treat without a bad conscience. Why not focus our campaign on that to make sure that we expand our brand's mental network?”

Again, as I said, this is really just a very first glimpse into our results dashboard and we could of course go much deeper than what I just described based on just two metrics. 

We would always look at a buyer versus non-buyer comparison because as Alex told us, most of the growth of your brand will actually come from non-buyers. And as always we would in this example see that Diet Coke's mental market share among non-buyers is much lower. So there's definitely room for growth and room for, yeah, expanding our brand's mental network. 

And when it comes to the brand's mental network, and I'm just flipping over the whole brand attitude part that we have here, we can also dive deeper into the specific different category entry points that we are tracking for the soda category. And you can see here how well Diet Coke in gray is connected to the different category entry points and how it performs compared to the big Coca-Cola brand where we can see that of course as a big player Coke, typical classic Coke is almost owning all of these, but some of the deviations are smaller or bigger than others.

So for example, we can see here that cinema right there, there's a bigger gap between Diet Coke and typical Coke. So this might also be a point where I would say, “Hey, how can I change this? Make sure that Diet Coke is just as valuable or as interesting of an option for consumers as would be regular Coke.” 

So this is everything that we have for this first list today. Again, it was just a short snapshot, but I hope it showed you how we can take those new metrics and put them to action and actually base our recommendations on them. 

And I would love to ask the Quirk’s team to share out the link that we have prepared with you folks and give it back to you Alex, so you can maybe just bring it home for us and summarize some of the key learnings that you've had.

Alex Hall:

I'll certainly bring it home. 

So let me wrap up what we discussed in today's session. So quanitlope’s new brand health tracker has been developed based on the empirical laws of brand growth, allowing us to measure from the mass market and understand both the buyer and non-buyer experiences of each brand. 

Our solution is fully automated and it drastically reduces effort for setup and maintenance. And with these results we can create truly actionable insights because our KPIs are validated against market share and volume. 

And then finally, your core KPIs are leveraging mental availability and category entry points, allowing us to truly understand how to improve our brand's connection to these needs, to these motivations and occasions and driving brand growth.