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Brand and Customer Experience

Brands are under pressure to develop emotional connections and relationships with consumers and business decision makers.

Success relies on delivering experiences that resonate with our clients’ target audience(s), across every experience point that consumers have with a brand, products or services.

We help our clients enhance their brand and customer relationships by analyzing and optimizing the emotional imprint – the customer experiences that drive immediate purchase decisions, as well as long-term connections. And we provide this at local, regional, or global level.

Our brand and customer experience (BaCE for short) research addresses the many touchpoints across the customer journey, creating lasting emotional connections. This helps drive business performance and your bottom line.

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Success Stories
  • Improving market impact by testing brand strength

    Improving market impact by testing brand strength

    28.06.2016

    We helped our client understand ways of improving its brand relationships with its target audience.

    Situation

    This client is a significant player in the market for compact, stylish and fuel-efficient city cars. It wished to learn more about how consumers relate to its brand and how to create a deeper emotional bond between customers and its brand. The manufacturer also wanted to assess the customer-brand relationship and the performance of a new model.

    Approach

    We employed our customer-brand relationship (CBR) framework in Germany to investigate how strong and positive consumers’ connections were with our client’s compact car. We also benchmarked the manufacturer’s brand relationships with its customers against those of its category competitors.

    Outcome

    Our research found that the auto company enjoyed strong relationships with 38% of consumers, while its top two competitors had strong connections with 46% and 47% of customers respectively. Additionally, its brand had the highest share of negative relationships with consumers at 11%. Taking these findings into consideration, we were able to propose ways our client could improve its brand impact in the market, such as leveraging its joy of life attributes to increase brand equity and catch up with its competitors.

    Click here to download our success story (short version)

    Click here to download our success story (long version)

  • Validating and rebuilding retail assumptions for a pharma leader

    Validating and rebuilding retail assumptions for a pharma leader

    24.06.2016

    Our research gives our client insight into the “moment of truth” in antidiarrheal drug purchases.

    Situation

    The company was facing major competition from cheaper alternatives, especially generic versions of the drug. It suspected that its marketing campaigns were also benefitting its rivals by creating shopper interest in over-the-counter antidiarrheal medicines. The organization asked us to investigate.

    Approach

    The pharma manufacturer wanted to understand the “moment of truth” in the shopping experience – when a customer decides which brand to buy. Our methodology explored the behaviors of both protagonists in this event: the store sales representative and the shopper.

    We went on shop-along expeditions with consumers and interviewed them face to face to get a qualitative understanding of their behavior. We also did a quantitative, web-based study to measure the drivers of their actions. Then, we initiated mystery shopping to understand the actions of the pharmacy attendants.

    Outcome

    Our findings showed the client that many of its assumptions about the behavior of the shop clerks and shoppers were not accurate. This gave it insights that it could use to optimize marketing to consumers and merchandizing through the trade.

    The company had quantifiable data to drive its decisions and could use it to invest in brand communications and point of sales activation.

    Click here to download our success story (short version)

    Click here to download our success story (long version)

  • Understanding consumer perceptions of DIY pricing

    Understanding consumer perceptions of DIY pricing

    24.06.2016

    We investigated why Brazilians believed a hardware chain’s products were expensive compared to those of competitors.

    Situation

    A building materials and hardware company enjoyed a strong image in Brazil as a supplier of high-quality products at a premium. Facing the prospect of losing market share to its lower priced rivals, our client wanted to find out why customers believed its prices to be high.

    Approach

    We redesigned our tracking study to get a deeper quantitative and qualitative understanding of consumers’ perceptions around its pricing. We conducted around 2,500 face-to-face interviews each year across 14 cities and regions. In addition, we collected retail price data for our client’s stores and those of the competition. Qualitative interviews with store owners provided further insight into emerging retail trends.

    Outcome

    We found that customers thought our client’s offerings to be more expensive than they actually were because of its historic positioning and communication style. Stores reinforced the perception of high pricing by prominently displaying the most expensive goods and full price tags for items on sale. Based on this knowledge, the building material company took steps to address customers’ views of its pricing and to strengthen its image among Brazilian consumers.

    Click here to download our success story (short version)

    Click here to download our success story (long version)

  • Shaping consumer segmentation for the digital age

    Shaping consumer segmentation for the digital age

    20.04.2016

    We partnered with Orange to help drive its strong customer experience strategy by enhancing its consumer segmentation model for the digital age.

    The client

    Orange is one of the largest operators of mobile and internet services in Europe and Africa and a global leader in corporate telecommunication services.

    Situation

    Richard Clarkson, Head of Segmentation Research, Orange: “Our vision of Orange is to provide the best customer experience and connecting customers to what's essential in their lives. Our customer segmentation was simply too old; it was five years old. It needed a change. It needed to be updated, particularly in the light of what's happened over the last five years with smartphones and the changing competitive environment with over-the-top providers and also online low-cost providers. We asked GfK to help because of their industry understanding of technology, but also their expertise in segmentation and their understanding of advanced analytics and modelling.”

    Approach

    Richard Clarkson: “Our segmentation brief to GfK had some challenging parameters. Firstly, we needed a model that would work across our marketing activities and loyalty activities with customers, but at the same time helping inform our innovation department, our technocenter, on what customers might need in the next two to three years’ time. Another key parameter was that we needed a model that would work on a country level in places like Romania and Poland, which are very different to Spain and France. We wanted to try to keep consistent with one model so we had one voice and one segmentation that everyone within the group could be talking about.”

    Outcome

    Raniv Dale, Head of UK Technology, GfK: “One of the really delightful aspects of the segmentation was how successfully it was embraced by the local markets. A key part of that was having our GfK expertise on the ground to support the delivery and make sure it was meaningful for the local businesses.” Richard Clarkson: “Working with GfK has helped us embed the segmentation within the business, both at the group level, but also at a country level. And now we're working with GfK to develop another segmentation for our EMEA region.”

    Click here to download the success story

Related Products for Brand and Customer Experience

Latest insights

Here you can find the latest insights for Brand and cutsomer experience. View all insights

    • 09/28/17
    • Financial Services
    • Automotive
    • Market Opportunities and Innovation
    • Trends and Forecasting
    • Global
    • English

    What impact is renewal transparency having on the British motor insurance market?

    Premium Drivers

    If you have renewed your motor insurance recently you may have noticed that the price your insurer has asked you to pay has probably increased. A combination of higher Insurance Premium Tax (rates have doubled over the past two years), bigger injury pay-outs and rising vehicle repair costs mean that motor insurance prices are now at an all-time high. Even for those of us savvy enough to shop around and switch provider, prices have also typically risen, despite the fact that the market remains as competitive as ever. However, it still generally pays to switch, as the vast majority of motor insurance providers are still willing to chase new business and therefore many still offer introductory discounts. Given this, it is somewhat concerning that, according to GfK’s Financial Research Survey (FRS), that the number of drivers who do switch has remained basically unchanged compared to four years ago. The number has held steady at around a quarter of drivers. So it would seem that many drivers don’t know, don’t consider, or just can’t be bothered, to change provider, despite the rising prices.

    Motor insurance renewal transparency: early signs of increased shopping around

    But there are tentative signs that this might be changing. Since April 2017, insurance providers have had to disclose prior year premiums on renewal notices. These new rules mandated by the FCA allow customers to compare more easily what they paid last year versus what they may pay this year, if they remain with the same provider. Early signs suggest renewal transparency has helped encourage greater levels of shopping around but this hasn’t so far translated into actual switching. According to the FRS, the proportion of drivers who “actively renew” their motor insurance (renew but take out at least one quote) has grown and now stands at 29%, the highest-ever level. In addition, a high proportion of those who have switched in the last 12 months also state that they are likely to switch again. On the other hand, large numbers are still auto-renewing on their motor insurance, particularly across older age groups where auto renewal rates remain stubbornly high at over 45%. For these customers, renewal transparency rules mean that providers must now also include additional disclosures on renewal notices explicitly encouraging people to shop around. Overall, I think renewal transparency has definitely been a useful step forward in making the motor insurance market more consumer friendly, and it will be interesting to see if it helps encourage greater levels of switching in the months ahead. If you would like more data, please contact me.

    The Financial Research Survey (FRS) is one of the largest and longest running surveys tracking personal financial holdings and behaviours and is considered the industry benchmark within the British financial industry

    • 09/06/17
    • Fashion and Lifestyle
    • Home Appliances
    • Financial Services
    • Media and Entertainment
    • Retail
    • Technology
    • Travel and Hospitality
    • Automotive
    • Consumer Goods
    • FMCG
    • Home and Living
    • Market Opportunities and Innovation
    • Consumer Life
    • Global
    • English

    The mood of the world today – what are people thinking?

    In this free on-demand webinar, our experts dive into current consumer confidence and other key indicators of the consumer mindset and what it means for individual markets and brands.
    • 08/24/17
    • Technology
    • Automotive
    • Global
    • English

    09/11/17
    Virtual reality meets traditional research: GfK @ ESOMAR 2017 congress

    How big a role can VR play for the market research world and what are the potential benefits?
    • 08/09/17
    • Retail
    • Automotive
    • Mystery Shopping
    • Global
    • English

    Crowdsourcing versus Mystery Shopping – sometimes the quick answer suffices

    Whether you’re a retailer trying to push through a new service initiative or a manufacturer launching a new product, all your hard work and investment can quickly unravel if your in-store activation misses the mark. Gleaning fast early-launch feedback of what is happening at the point of sale is critical, so that key elements can be tweaked, re-communicated or corrected to ensure a successful launch. With this ever-present challenge, it’s no surprise that most major brands employ some form of in-store mystery shopping activity, to gain that quantitative and qualitative read of performance. Although mystery shopping may go in and out of fashion, it is still arguably the single best methodology for understanding exactly what is happening on the shop floor and identifying problems. However, there is also increasing demand for fast turnaround data on retail performance – and this has triggered increasing use of ‘crowdsourced audits’ alongside traditional mystery shopping against a smaller number of metrics and across less defined samples.

    When to use crowdsourced audits and when to use mystery shopping

    On-trade product launches are typically prime candidates for the use of quick-fire checks (crowdsourced audits), rather than statistically representative studies (mystery shopping). A product manager who wants to understand how one bar chain is promoting and serving his new product versus another bar chain requires the statistical certainty of a mystery shopping program. But, in early stage launches, sometimes the overriding need can be as simple as quickly assessing whether your product is actually present. In our mystery shopping programs, we regularly uncover distribution issues, or stock still sitting in backrooms and out of date POS/promotions bearing no link whatsoever to a scheduled launch. In this instance, a fast random coverage of the market is what is needed, rather than an all-singing, all-dancing robust sample exercise. This is where crowdsourced audits come into their own as a measurement methodology.  In essence, these are a variant of mystery shopping, based on wide-coverage, untrained panels of everyday consumers who can ‘pick up’ assignments based on their proximity to locations and conduct quick turnaround simple ‘checks’. For example, checking specific promotions and activations, product availability, pricing or a simple recommendation across a non-fixed sample of stores is ideal territory for crowdsourced audits. They are essentially fast turnaround checks without the robustness of a representative sample. The ability to feedback quickly with both objective responses and photos means client teams can get that all-important early read and work out if there are any launch issues to be addressed.

    Conclusion

    The critical factor is that the agency you choose must have the experience to know when the ‘crowdsourced audit’ route is appropriate, and when a more comprehensive mystery shop approach is needed. The tipping point can be quite small, but will have big implications on the resultant data and level of insight. We employ both methodologies and increasingly are providing clients with a blended approach in order to best deliver the whole story in the most cost effective way. Both techniques can be fast turnarounds and both can provide photo capture with GPS stamping but, in its simplest terms, the differentiation revolves around the complexity of the task and the type of sample needing to be covered. As such it’s no great surprise that mystery shopping is the primary solution in sectors such as Banking and Automotive, where we measure high involvement and detailed purchases, but when it comes to high street retail and simple product recommendation checks, the blended solution becomes very relevant. Whether it’s a quick answer or more comprehensive measure, marketers and product managers have a far greater range of solutions to call upon and it’s the job of the agencies to properly assess the need and find the best fit. Oli Bailey is the Development Director of Mystery Shopping at GfK. To share your thoughts, please email oli.bailey@gfk.com or leave a comment below.
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