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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.

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 customer experience. View all insights

    • 07/27/18
    • Brand and Customer Experience
    • Global
    • English

    The winning formula for advertising around big sports events

    We ran different ad tests during the World Cup, including using biometric testing on 21 ads. The ad that ‘won’, in terms of greatest subconscious and conscious audience response, was the Ladbrokes’s advertisement, which is driven by verbal and visual humour. But what was it that resonated so well with the audience?

    Engage both sides of the brain with humour

    According to a recent study published in the journal ‘Cerebral Cortex’, visual humour engages parts of the brain responsible for vision, and verbal humour activates the language-processing areas. These big brain areas tend to be in different hemispheres of the brain (with some exceptions) – so an ad that is working both on a visual and linguistic level is engaging both hemispheres. Engaging both sides to the brain in a positive way (we confirmed positivity via the subjective accounts viewer gave to the Ladbrokes ad) improves the ad’s efficiency in grabbing and holding viewers’ attention, and creating a lasting impression of the brand.

    Match the audience’s mood

    Advertising needs to resonate with the audience’s current mood. While it is very hard to predict this in general, it is much easier with audiences focused on a major event. For ads aired before and during a major sporting event, for example, the audience’s mood is likely to be social, enthusiastic, emotional, and so forth. In our test, the ads that were projecting a relaxed state of mind with representations of peaceful lifestyle elements performed very poorly. They were not in line with the audience’s prevailing mood at that particular time and therefore triggered very little subconscious engagement and subjective liking. Similarly, such events are not the right context for ads that need the viewer to try hard in order to ‘get’ the joke or decipher the puzzle. People geed up for a big social event, and very focused on that, don’t want to be distracted by complex advertising. They respond better to the more obvious, or ‘slapstick’ type humour that doesn’t take their attention off their main purpose for watching.

    Beware of humour that pokes fun at the audience’s self-esteem

    Any threat to our self-esteem triggers withdrawal or prompts us to push back in defense of who we are. Therefore, advertising needs to be careful with any type of humour that is directed at people’s daily habits. This is especially so for audiences who are in a social, festive mood in anticipation of a big sports event; they are not in the mood to see humour in the mundane, awkward moments in their lives. In our test, the ad that portrayed that type of humour triggered relatively high emotional engagement, but the conscious responses showed it to be mainly negative. In fact, it scored 15.77 points below the average ‘performance score’ of all the ads tested before and at half time – which is a significant underperformance. In addition, it had only around half the amount of peak moments of strong emotional reaction compared to the average seen during this test. The ad was out of kilter with that audience’s present mindset and mood.

    Use ‘lack of connectedness’ sparingly

    Humans love to join the dots. We are intrigued by the lack of connectedness, because we are driven to make the connection – and this holds true in advertising. While we are intrigued by disjointed scenes, or unexpected pauses in the music or visual frames, we have a certain threshold of tolerating this. This threshold is even lower during times of emotional turbulence when the audience’s minds are focused almost wholly on anticipating a major event, such as a big sports game. Again, our test showed that ads that include high levels of these elements (70% of the total copy) can prompt frustration and disengagement in viewers. In particular, the ads that showed partial body parts – i.e. legs or arms shown only partially – or where the music or visual element was interrupted for more than a second during the ad, scored up to 20 points less than the average performance score for all the ads tested. In addition, these ads triggered hardly any peak moments of strong emotional reaction, performing up to 40 points below the average for this metric, in this test.

    What would we have missed had we not used a combination stated response and biometric response?

    By layering stated responses with biometric testing, we can deliver strategic and tactical recommendations that are much more future-proofed. We find out not just what people say, but how they instinctively react – giving us the ‘what’ and also the ‘why’ on both conscious and subconscious levels. By analysing these layered findings, we get a holistic, as opposed to a one-angled, understanding of human behavior and human receptiveness in different situations. And that means you can do more successful planning, based on this better understanding.

    Conclusion

    For advertisers, the key message is that an ad that performs well during a ‘normal viewing’ situation could fail to resonate if screened around a specific type of event, where the audience is in an elevated frame of mind. To make the most of prime-time advertising, such as around a major event, we need to project the audience’s most likely mood and ensure the proposed ad dovetails with all the connotations of that mood.

    For more about ad and concept testing using biometrics, please contact Eszter.Boczan@gfk.com

    About the study

    GfK and Shimmer, a leading provider of wearable wireless sensor products, monitored the physiological responses of around 50 participants as they watched the live France-Peru World Cup game – including watching 21 advertisements from a variety of product categories that were shown before the game or at half time. The physiological response was recorded via a biometric device, which sits on a participant’s wrist and picks up the signals via two non-intrusive electrodes. As well as tracking the audience’s second-by-second skin response and heart rate as each advertisement played, GfK also recorded their stated response to each advertisement at the end of the session.
    • 07/23/18
    • Brand and Customer Experience
    • Global
    • English

    Why are big advertisers still getting this wrong?

    We ran a test recently on some ads that were airing in the UK during the World Cup, all from the same product category (consumer electronics). Some of the advertisers were official World Cup sponsors; others had an alternative football sponsorship association – and we evaluated them using a new pre-test methodology that was co-created with major advertisers. All the ads employed a football theme and the results from our unforced exposure method proved this to be a strong hook that attracted – and held – viewer notice equally well across all the ads. Strong and consistent brand name presence in each ad also led to the viewers correctly recalling which brand each ad was promoting.

    What was missing?

    However, one key thing was not quite right in the majority of these executions. While the product was always clearly shown, it was not always the hero of the ad. The football theme was the dominant attraction, which meant that viewers too often lost sight of the product’s actual features and benefits. Ultimately, the connection between the product and the sport was not always clear to the viewers. Even more crucially, most of the ads were not driving a direct or indirect call to action – be that an interest to learn more about the product or brand, or a desire to go out and buy one.

    The key learning

    In this test we only focused on a small proportion of each brands’ advertising activity around the World Cup – however, it’s always worth remembering that, while a brand may be relevant to the event it sponsors, that relevance needs to be clearly communicated to the viewers, in order for the brand to benefit. Our Ad FIT method identified that the strongest performer for an ad that fascinates (grabs and holds viewers’ attention), imprints (leaves a positive, branded lasting impression) and triggers (generates a direct or indirect response from viewers) was not in this case the most ‘exciting’ execution. It was the one that clearly communicated the product’s benefits in a way that was relevant to the ‘big sports event’ theme – thereby driving a timely desire for the product. Read our linked press release: Humorous ads trigger greater response than sporty ads screened around a World Cup game For more information on how you can increase your ad performance with AdFIT pre-launch testing, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
    • 11/16/17
    • Social and Strategic Research
    • Brand and Customer Experience
    • Public Communications and Social Science
    • Global
    • English

    Germany reclaims top “nation brand” ranking, with USA dropping to sixth place

    France leaps to second place for first time, since 2009, while UK regains ground to remain third and Japan enters top five for first time since 2011. USA is only country showing overall decline in 2017. Germany shows major gains in Governance, People, and Culture.
    • 10/30/17
    • Brand and Customer Experience
    • Global
    • English

    It’s time to listen to the voice of the customer

    Almost every major brand now has a Voice of the Customer (VoC) programme. And in recent years talk of CEM or VoC has increasingly been replaced with “customer-centricity”. However, the reality is that many VoC programmes actually seek to serve a business objective of monitoring a KPI such as NPS, and to justify decisions already taken. Rather than listening to the voice of the customer, instead we still all too often ask our customers to spend their precious time answering multiple rating scales that the customer doesn’t even care about. Is this really customer-centric?

    Many VoC programmes are not customer-centric

    A recent visit to my car dealership for a service implored me to score a 9 or 10 on a survey I had been given, as I was clearly told anything other than this score would result in negative consequences for the salesman in question. How, I wondered, did my experience become all about them? And how does this help improve the experience in the future? Let’s take another example. After a recent flight I was asked to give my feedback, only to be asked to rate multiple aspects of the experience. 15 minutes of questions about every conceivable aspect of the flight. What I really wanted to say was that the cabin service was really good, but after 10 minutes of answering about anything and everything other than this, I’d frankly lost the will to continue further and just wanted the whole experience to end. Again, the feeling persists that I was filling in a series of scorecards that suited the airline rather than feeling they genuinely wanted my feedback. Not exactly “customer-centric”. This old way of working is neither customer-centric nor sustainable into the future. We must change now or have change forced upon us.

    To be sustainable and relevant in the future, this must change

    Why? Firstly, in a world of big data and multiple screens, consumers have ever increasing demands upon their time, and a decreasing attention span. For researchers, this translates as lower response rates and a marked reduction in willingness to conduct longer surveys. To continue receiving meaningful feedback, brands need to demonstrate the relevance of doing so to the customers and engage with them. Working with your own clients can also provide a platform to take this further and start co-creating with them. You can start by stripping back questionnaires, relinquishing control and letting the customer control the agenda far more than they do currently. However, this doesn’t mean that VoC programmes should be about producing less useful information for the business, in fact the end outcome will be more beneficial to the business; more focused, more relevant insight, and at a lower cost.

    New technologies now enable a more customer-centric approach

    Using text and voice analytics, we are now able to really uncover what matters to the consumer, instead of inferring this from analysis of multiple questions. From these responses, we can recreate categorizations for analysis, add sentiment to our understanding, and understand customers at a really granular level. And we know everything said is relevant and important, because it has been volunteered and not forced, from the customer. Not only that, but as consumer expectations change in the face of an ever-evolving environment, this will appear in the unstructured data analysis. New themes can be tracked and measured, and retrospective trend analysis applied. Companies can see these changes and be more proactive in addressing them.

    A truly customer-centric approach is also more cost effective

    Finally, such an approach has substantial cost savings. Asking fewer questions reduces costs, and being able to analyze unstructured data also helps eliminate the need for ad-hoc research to dig deeper into changes in KPIs. With social media providing consumers with a platform to amplify good and bad experiences, listening to the voice of the customer has never been more important. It’s time we started to really listen. Take concept validation to the next level. Find out more about voice analytics with this interactive content. hbspt.cta.load(2405078, 'a9dd8501-7506-4137-b684-84f620855e9a', {});
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