Actionable Research

The world’s most successful companies systematically and proactively listen to the voices of their customers. According to IBM’s State of Marketing, Top Marketers do three things differently than their less successful peers:

  1. They know and integrate their customer context.
  2. They systematically act on insights.
  3. They view the customer experience more broadly.


This survey of 500 marketing professionals worldwide found that:

  • “76% of top marketers contact their customers to gauge satisfaction.”
  • “82% of leading marketers deliver brand messages at every point of the customer interaction.”
  • “84% of leading marketers systematically measure brand awareness and reputation.”

Our Methods

Branding and Positioning

Branding and positioning research is called for when you seek to understand better your current position in the marketplace (vis-a-vis competitors) and consumer decision-making criteria. Research findings inform the creation and execution of a new or updated brand position, promise, and identity. Our efforts are to provide a comprehensive view of your brand as it stands now while exploring opportunities that will best position it for increased awareness, preference, and usage among stakeholders in the future.

Companies can use this information to determine the appeal and resonance of: your brand story (or some specific aspect), your brand position, specific campaign themes, storyboard execution(s), or changed brand componentry, like a new label or logo, etc.

A&U studies build an overall picture of your target market. Studies are easily replicable for tracking purposes. For example, an analysis plan might focus on: assessing differences by category usage (heavy vs. medium vs. light users); exploring category and brand usage, preferences, and perceptions by channel; determining key drivers for product users; analyzing the key strengths and leadership territories (attributes “owned”) for your brand and your competitors; assessing differences by age and identifying key opportunities for gaining users from new/alternative demographics/psychographics; understanding consumer decision making and channels used as they affect attitudes, brand choice, size preference, frequency of usage, price sensitivity, etc.

The American Marketing Association reminds us that “market research is a multi-faceted discipline that can be a powerful tool for understanding your customer’s buying behavior, identifying target markets, and creating new products they’ll want to use.” Everything we do is about designing and implementing the most effective, even creative, way to listen to what your customers have to say, no matter who they are or how hard they are to reach.

The goal is to determine which products—new or from another market—have the most significant potential for your brand in its existing market. Applying the principles of brand extension, we expect the research to answer the questions about product/service areas your brand has “permission” to go credibly. We’d seek to know if there are extension products/services that are a logical “fit,” which products/services are the “closest” fit, which is a stretch for the brand, and why? What does the “cascade” away from the core product/service/brand look like? Among other things, we’d look to see what leadership attributes the brand can “transfer” to the new products/services, just by association alone, and what the extended products/services “say” about the core brand.

Strategy development is often the logical next step after primary research to capitalize on white space opportunities or reposition in light of the competitive marketplace, for example, based on insight-driven guidance within the context of your unique brand environment.

When you want to quantify the effectiveness of a specific marketing communications campaign, you will conduct an advertising effectiveness study. The survey measures awareness, recall, and association of the campaign with your brand, as well as the impact of the campaign on assessments of your brand and the main messages communicate about your brand.

These studies quantify your brand’s word-of-mouth. The study seeks to ascertain your customers’ willingness to recommend and their likelihood to return/repurchase. We can also conduct leakage studies to identify weaknesses in your customer lifecycle, that is, to establish at which point they dropped out. Findings indicate where to revise product/service offering(s), train staff, inform sales and marketing communication, and guide future customer research.

Segmentation can be helpful when a brand seeks to strengthen its relationships with its customers by driving specific behavior among particular parts of its customer base. For example, segmentation based on attitudes, behaviors, and demographics better informs a brand’s marketing strategy and branding efforts. Among customers, you might seek to understand better who your customers are, how they use your product/services, what other competitive or supplemental products/services they use and why, to what degree they are aware of your offering’s benefits, which features/benefits do they find most important/appealing, their usage of and experience with your product/services and features, their current perceptions of your brand (versus others used) and any barriers that exist to increasing use/using your product/services.

As the frontline interface with your customers across many touchpoints, this type of study is often a component of a more significant customer experience project. Research explores the experiences and attitudes of your employees along with their brand perceptions to identify opportunities for tighter alignment with your mission, brand position, and value proposition.

An effective and intuitive website or mobile application is one of the most visible examples of “where the rubber meets the road” in your customers’ or users’ overall experience. Our studies test your navigability and user-friendliness. We look to see if the appropriate conversions are happening as they should be and if the call(s) to action is/are easy to find and execute. We assess finite aspects like terminology/verbiage, page layout, flow, number of clicks, etc., and broader implications like the online/app experience representative of your brand.

This step is critical to providing a solid understanding of the major players in your space and the trends and mindsets of your consumers. It is an essential step in identifying opportunities for competitive differentiation. This work allows us to analyze your market-facing position(s), missions, key messages, and any other brand-related communication alongside your competitors. Along the way, we can make predictions as to whom competitors are trying to target. You can use it to inform later stages of research. For example, we can design a much smarter questionnaire for consumer surveys and identify key messages, “hot buttons,” and niches that we want to quantify. Where applicable, we include elements of social media “listening” as a part of this process.