The world is constantly changing, and with it, the behaviour of consumers. Every day, brands face the challenge of reacting dynamically to these changes. Only those brands that recognize opportunities and risks at an early stage and adjust their course in time will survive in highly competitive markets. This requires a deep understanding of changes in the competitive environment, the needs of the target group, and the brand's perception. Brand tracking provides precisely this knowledge.
With the help of brand tracking, companies gain empirically well-founded insights into their brand's performance parameters that are relevant for decision-making from the perspective of the target group over a period of time. Thus, brand tracking helps to achieve the best possible control of the brand in the market, promote growth, improve brand perception, and strengthen brand equity.
Within the context of brand tracking, also called brand awareness tracking, representatives of the target group answer the same questions about a brand and its direct competitors over time. Their answers are given within a defined measurement period and at regular intervals. In this way, the company can compare answers over a certain period, identify possible changes in the established performance parameters, and adjust its strategy accordingly.
KPI's in Brand Tracking
Before setting up a brand tracking system, it is essential to define key performance indicators (KPIs) that are particularly important for the management of the given brand, so that their changes can be monitored continuously.
A common mistake is that brand tracking surveys are often designed far too extensively and contain questions about relatively constant factors over time. Constant characteristics such as target group characteristics like hobbies, values, and personality traits for example, should rather be asked in a single survey.
The slimmer the questionnaire and the faster the survey is conducted, the shorter the intervals between trackings can be. Thereby, the company can react quickly to any changes they discover in the analysis of the survey.
Brand Awareness & Brand Presence as Central KPI's
Essential components of brand tracking are the measurement of brand awareness and brand perception or the brand image. In measuring brand awareness, the degree of awareness of a brand in the target group is determined. Brand awareness indicates how familiar consumers are with a brand. Brand perception is a central parameter for brand management. The measurement of brand perception reveals which image the brand evokes in people's minds (brand image). Both brand awareness and brand perception influence consumers' buying decisions and their emotional attachment to a brand.
When doing a brand tracking, it is usually asked which brands the survey participants know in the respective product category. This can be supported - meaning that participants get a list of brands and choose whether they know the brand or not, or unsupported - without any hints of different brands. The most important key figures that serve as a benchmark include top-of-mind awareness, brand recall, or aided recall (more about the three types of brand awareness here).
Another KPI is Brand Buzz, the perception of the brand over a certain period of time and whether it has attracted the attention of the target group rather positively, negatively, or not at all. In this way, the impact of campaigns and events such as shitstorms on brand perception can be recorded. It is also possible to track whether and how often the brand was the subject of personal conversations (word-of-mouth).
Brand Image and Brand Attributes
Brand tracking also serves to observe changes in the perceived image of a brand in comparison to direct competitors. For example, a company can ask its target group in a supported or unsupported manner which brand or product characteristics they perceived. Open questions about what consumers think of first when they hear the brand name can also be revealing.
Other KPIs include:
Brand Impression (impression and attitude towards the brand)
Brand Likeability (brand sympathy)
Brand Consideration (brands considered for purchase)
Perception of value for money
Brand Use and Brand Relationship
The following KPIs measure brand use and brand relationship:
The buying behaviour provides information about satisfaction with the brand. It is then asked whether, how often, and where the target group has bought brand products in a certain period.
The Net Promoter Score (recommendation rate) combined with purchasing behaviour is an essential measure of customer loyalty (brand loyalty).
Other KPIs that can be measured in brand tracking are Brand Usage (such as frequency of use, usage situations, usage habits), Brand Reputation, and Customer Satisfaction.
Customer Behaviour, Customer Needs and Ad Awareness
Other areas that can be observed with the help of brand tracking are changes in consumer habits and the needs of the target group that affect the brand and its products.
Ad awareness and advertising channels can also be part of brand tracking and are used to determine whether the target group has perceived advertising of the brand (unsupported and supported recall) and on which channels — more about this in our article about campaign tracking.
Implementation of a Brand Tracking
With the help of digital market research, individual brand tracking can be optimally implemented. It is necessary to submit the same questionnaire to representatives of the target group over the defined measurement period in order to ensure the comparability of the results. However, as mentioned above, not all KPIs have to be measured for every wave.
Already in the first measurement, the questionnaire must contain all critical questions, and it should meet the quality criteria of market research. Only in that way, it is possible for the company to work effectively with the results and derive recommendations for action.
To ensure objectivity when conducting the survey, brands must avoid influencing the participants in any form. This underlines the importance of the form of the questionnaire: avoiding leading questions for example.
It should not be evident to the respondent which brand is behind the brand tracking questionnaire. Therefore, brands should defer from using their newsletter or social media channels to distribute their tracking surveys. It is advisable to work with a market research provider to avoid falsifying the results.
It is vital in brand tracking that the survey is conducted at regular intervals (waves) (for example, monthly or quarterly) and that the sample size, target group, and the collection method remain the same across countries to make the results comparable.
Do you want to carry out a brand tracking with Appinio? In our dashboard, you will find a sample tracking and questionnaire templates that you can customize. Our market researchers will be happy to advise you on set-up and data analysis.