Views from the Hills by R. E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail

It's Called Planning for the Future

I believe an important part of a successful brand is the ability of the brand to adjust to the changing world around it. It is often written that there is a brand life cycle where a brand grows to its potential and then declines and is removed from the market. I don't know where or who has experienced these cycles. I haven't and I have worked on over 27 brands in my career and all are doing well last time I checked. They are doing well because they adapted to change. They didn't stay static.

Generally speaking, the marketing managers utilized research to determine changes in the world around them in areas such as; technology, consumer lifestyles, the retail environment, the physical structure of the homes, legislation, etc. They then utilized research to determine the potentials for change and the opportunities presented with the change.

There are two simple, very economical and fast test protocols to determine potential changes to an established brand. One technique, Negative Brand Share, takes about a week from start to finish, costs less than $10,000, and results in an understanding of the market profile and what it would require for a specific brand to gain market share. This technique takes place in the store and is devoted to understanding at the time of purchase, the motivating factors in the purchase and importantly, the factors relating to selection or rejection of the "brand of interest." It is really the store environment that gives the technique the quality of understanding.

The second technique is even cheaper but takes longer. Actually, this is a technique that I would tag on to other research. The technique is called "Category Dissatisfaction." The purpose of the technique is to understand the common "consumer Beliefs" as they relate to a product category. I would have a series of 5 x 8-inch cards made up with various sentence completion questions on the cards. These cards were available for any test where we were meeting face-to-face with consumers. At any dead time such as when the respondents were waiting to do their test, they were given a card to complete. [Note, the category addressed on the card must at all times be different than primary test of the participants.] Typical sentences would be as follows:

What I dislike about all laundry detergents is that they all _________________________.

I wish someone would make a shampoo that would _______________________________.

Both studies, "Negative Brand Share" and "Category Dissatisfaction," are very powerful in uncovering potential opportunities for both brand and category improvements. These are really "Learning and Understanding" research projects.