Case Study: Market Monitoring
In the competitive shower market keeping track of the company brand and continually monitoring it against competing brands is critical. B2B International was required by 3 of the leading UK shower manufacturers to track plumbers’ awareness, views and use of UK shower brands over time.
In order to accurately track brand awareness (or any other issue), we must use a sample size that provides enough statistical significance for observed changes over time to be regarded as meaningful. Similarly, monitoring studies must choose a level of monitoring that is frequent enough for changes in market behaviour to be noted quickly. However, monitoring a market too frequently can lead to results that differ very little from one period to the next. It is therefore difficult for the Client to act upon such results with any confidence.
With this in mind, we proposed a sample of 500 interviews per half year. This meant that our results would be accurate to within 4.5% of what would be achieved by carrying out a census of all shower installers in the UK; furthermore the time lag of approximately 6 months between ‘waves’ would be sufficient for a marketing campaign to be launched after one wave and its effects be measured at the next wave.
Step 1 – Developing the Questionnaire
In any study, the development of the questionnaire is crucial – market research is about asking the right people the right questions. We therefore involved all 3 of our clients in the development of the questionnaire, ensuring that each client’s interests were addressed within the framework of a questionnaire that was concise enough to maintain the interest of the target audience of shower installers.
Step 2 – Establishing a baseline
Using random lists of shower installers based within the UK, we targeted a cross-section of the shower installation community by telephone. Respondents were screened to ensure that they were experienced enough to give their views on brands and qualities of shower available, and then asked a series of mainly closed questions. These questions were designed to a achieve a ‘baseline’ measurement of issues such as brand awareness, usage levels of particular brands and views on different aspects of the various showers available in the market. These closed questions were backed up by open ended questions, which would explain the reasons behind the scores provided by respondents.
At the end of the baseline stage, results were presented to our Clients and feedback on this first stage built into the subsequent ‘waves’.
Step 3 – Tracking against the baseline
Once the baseline is established, our job is to monitor all of the baseline scores over time and explain any changes. As the shower monitor study has developed over time, we have incorporated new questions to reflect the changing needs of our clients, and continued to explore in-depth the reasons for changes in installers’ views of the shower market and the products and brands in the market.
Key Benefits Of The Monitor
The research has allowed our clients to see how their brand positions have changed over time, in particular vis-à-vis their competitors
This capability has been particularly useful in terms of measuring the effectiveness of in-house marketing campaigns
The research has identified areas of our Clients’ businesses – be that marketing issues, quality issues, service issues or any other aspects of their work – in need of improvement
In many cases our Clients have found that perceptions of their products have differed from the reality. Perceived quality issues, for example, have often been ‘rectified’ through better communication of product benefits to the target market.
T he research has allowed growth rates within the industry to be predicted
As our monitor incorporates a ‘market confidence measurement’ as well as exploring the views of installers as to where their businesses are headed, our data has been used by Clients as an input into their planning procedures.
The research has ‘painted a portrait’ of the target market
In order to put the target market’s responses into their fullest context, our monitor obtains a large amount of classification information. This has been used by our Clients to develop a fuller understanding of the characteristics of the market they serve. How big are the companies installing showers? Who is making decisions regarding showers within these companies? Who are their customers? How many different brands do they install?
This information can even be run through statistical tests in order to identify market segments based on needs. For example, there may be one group of the market that is very price-focused, another that is quality focused and a third that is service focused. Through examining this data our Clients can tailor different offerings to different parts of the market.