Supercharging your Brand Tracking

Laura Anderson, Quantitative Account Director, had a lightbulb moment whilst reflecting on a recent experience with a food tracking app. She realized that to supercharge your brand tracking, you need to keep four essential elements on your radar.

My husband Tim has just spent two weeks undergoing mini food experiments (only eating bacon for breakfast one day was a highlight, logging every single thing he ate was not) while his blood sugar and fat were measured. This was part of a personalized nutrition program, touted as the world’s largest nutrition-science study, that says it can help you understand how food affects your body. The other night he got an email with a summary of his results and we were fascinated by the data it gave him, but also mildly baffled by some of the suggestions. Somehow it made me think about my day to day, and challenges clients have had with tracking

Remember it’s a point in time

In market research, if you’re doing an annual survey it’s important to think about what is going on in the industry and consumer’s lives when you pick the fieldwork period, and as much as possible keep this constant in future waves. Tim was a bit disappointed that his current diet is rubbish for both his blood fat and blood sugar. I helpfully reminded him that he’d stopped tracking when he hadn’t been drinking alcohol and just before eating copious amounts of ice cream and ham (not together) on our holiday to Barcelona, so it was probably painting a rosier picture than reality. One way to address this is to do continuous tracking over time, so that you can understand the impact of seasonality, major events and competitor advertising and activity. Savvy design and modern methods mean continuous tracking is more affordable than many clients fear

You can only get out what you put in

One of the recommendations he was given was to swap our normal wholemeal bread for rye bread. Not particularly keen on giving up my normal brand, I asked if wholemeal was generally better than white bread. He hadn’t eaten white bread in the two weeks he was tracked so didn’t have that information. Just like in tracking surveys, you cannot answer a question if you don’t have the data.

Make things easy on the user

Intrigued but on the fence, I asked whether he would recommend the programme. He said it was interesting, but if he had known that the food logging was so intensive and awkward to use then he probably wouldn’t have signed up in the first place. This wasn’t surprising to me, as we have spent a lot of time at The Nursery working on keeping surveys short, simple and engaging to combat dropping response rates and keeping data quality up.

Ensure recommendations are specific and achievable

Something he did appreciate was that the recommendations were clear (swap X food for Y food), which is much easier to follow than “cut down on sugar” or “reduce fat”.  They also made sense thinking about everything that he already knew about nutrition and how he felt after eating certain types of food. Learning about people's thoughts and experiences is usually interesting, but if the research you do doesn’t lead to suggestions on how to answer your business questions then it is more “nice to have” than business critical.

I haven’t signed up to the programme yet… The data nerd in me is sorely tempted, but maybe I’ll just use the money to stock up on more Jaffa Cakes.

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