| Marketing Research Services
| Strategy Research
Sound strategy is fundamental to business success. Strategy is the formula by which the major marketing variables (advertising, positioning, product, promotion,
pricing, distribution, etc.) are integrated, energized, and optimized. Most businesses struggle with strategy and planning, primarily because senior executives
are often “too close” to their businesses and get lost in the forest of day-to-day minutiae and industry mythology. The development of an optimal
strategy is a complex undertaking and typically involves a number of research steps and analyses.
Good qualitative research is always the starting point for strategy research. The purposes of qualitative research (focus groups, depth
interviews, ethnography) are to identify the critical strategy variables, explore the decision process, understand buyer motivations, identify sources of influence
and authority, explore brand identity and brand perceptions, and understand the language, meanings, and symbols related to strategy formulation.
Segmentation analysis is usually conducted as an early step in strategy development to help identify optimal target-market segments from
multiple perspectives: demography, lifestyle, attitudes, shopping behavior, media usage, and geographic patterns. Additionally, the analysis examines market
structures and brand images. Factor analysis, cluster analysis, and other multivariate statistical techniques are important parts of the analysis. Market segmentation
analyses help define worthwhile market segments and help generate hypotheses about strategies to attack these segments.
This is an integral part of the strategy development process. Understanding competitive strengths and weaknesses is fundamental to the development
of sound strategy alternatives. The nature of the industry determines the benchmarking methods. For the consumer packaged goods industry, head-to-head product testing
and head-to-head advertising testing are tried and true benchmarking methods. For durable goods, product “clinics” are the preferred method. In
a product clinic, all of the major brands are assembled in one location, and prospective buyers of those products are recruited to view, examine, and compare
the different brands. For services industries, mystery shopping is often used for benchmarking.
Companies typically have reams of historical sales and marketing data that can be analyzed as part of the strategy development process. Basic
sales analysis is the starting point. An analytical database can also be assembled of data related to the major marketing variables (ad spending, promotion spending,
pricing, sales, etc.), and this data can serve as the inputs to marketing-mix modeling. The goal is to measure the influence of all marketing inputs on sales
Typically, marketing-mix modeling involves the use of multiple-regression techniques to help explain or predict the optimal mix of marketing variables.
Regression is based on a number of inputs (or independent variables) and how these relate to an outcome (or dependent variable) such as sales or profits.
Once the model is built and validated, the input variables (advertising, promotion, etc.) can be manipulated to determine the net effect of different marketing
inputs on a company’s sales or profits. With or without marketing-mix modeling, the analysis of historical sales data is almost always a part of the
strategy development process. When marketing-mix modeling is not feasible or applicable, then choice modeling becomes the recommended method of determining
the optimal mix of marketing variables.
Discrete choice, volumetric choice, and conjoint models are analytical methods used to determine the optimal combination of marketing
variables, through simulation of real-world, consumer purchasing decisions. Carefully controlled experiments are set up so that consumers are simply asked
to choose how many of each product they would buy, given predetermined sets of realistic conditions (i.e., scenarios). The brands are presented visually
(including 3D simulation), if possible, in the context of advertising, pricing, packaging, features, promotion, and other variables. These choice-modeling experiments
are used to optimize the elements of strategy (i.e., determine the optimal price, optimal positioning, optimal mix of services, etc.).
The choice-modeling experimental design is tailored to the specific objectives, constraints, and variables of each strategy project. Customization
is the key to success because every category/brand has critical idiosyncrasies. The resulting data are used to create a DecisionSimulator™, in which potential
sets of marketing variables, product features, and marketing conditions can be evaluated to derive optimal strategies under changing market and competitive
Based on the qualitative research, benchmarking, sales analyses, marketing mix modeling, and choice modeling, strategy concepts are developed.
These strategy concepts are then tested to determine the very best strategy. The method of testing varies by industry and product category, ranging from
a simple concept test to elaborate sets of controlled test markets.
Once a strategy enters the implementation phase, it is important to track the unfolding of that strategy as it affects customers, the trade,
and (sometimes) employees. Also, strategy has a tendency to wobble off course over time, another reason for long-term strategy monitoring. The strategy monitoring
system is custom-designed for the individual company and its industry. It is usually based upon periodic telephone or Internet surveys among the key target
Brand Equity Monitor™
Very often, brand image and brand equity are important factors in a company’s strategy. For these cases, Decision Analyst’s Brand Equity Monitor™
is recommended since it measures relative brand preference based on all aspects of the brand, including both rational and emotional perceptions, customer service,
brand images, and availability in the marketplace. The Brand Equity Monitor™ is custom-designed for each client, to accurately reflect the brand’s
competitive environment and product/service category.
Strategy Research Services
For more information on Strategy Research, please contact Jerry W. Thomas, President/CEO (email@example.com),
or call 1-800-ANALYSIS (262-5974) or 1-817-640-6166.
Additional Resources from Decision Analyst
Strategy Research Case Histories
Strategy Research White Papers