By Clare-Marie Hulsey, Horst Feldhaeuser, Patricio Pagani

Our series ‘Congress Countdown’ looks forward to ESOMAR Congress 2016 by giving you an insight into some of the presentation topics on the programme that will be sure to  #WOW you!

Brand trackers are the bread and butter for a lot of market research agencies and client users.  But many predict the death of them because they are too big, too slow, too expensive, not user friendly etc.  We believe a brand tracker is nothing but a living organism – it must adapt to survive and it will.  In our ESOMAR Congress paper and presentation we will prove that it can be done.

However, for our blog we want to concentrate on three main outcomes and recommendations:

  1. Make changes now – don’t wait!
  2. Use technology & automation to get better and faster (and cheaper) turnaround
  3. Use technology to distribute results & insights more impactful
  1. Make changes now – don’t wait!

You don’t have to wait for the next evolution in market research to make significant changes and create better surveys for you and the people that answer your surveys.  We know it’s often difficult to stop and re-evaluate what you really need from your brand tracker.  Numerous stakeholders each often just want some specific questions, are afraid of trend breaks or simply just want to make sure that all of their questions are answered in one big survey.  But if we don’t adapt, the alternative is worse – bad surveys with respondents that don’t care and just want to go through the survey as fast as possible, ultimately creating rubbish results that drive rubbish decisions (ok not all trackers are that bad).

But with some care, attention to detail, creativity and technology, it’s possible to do better than ever – right now!  The tools are all there, so it’s up to you to use them.  If necessary, break the unbreakable and utilise best-in-class suppliers, people and tools.

Coca-Cola managed to upgrade its 90+ markets beverage tracker, so it can be done.

The goal was to build a better, faster, smarter eco-system – getting more accurate data from a shorter survey, using upgraded technology end-to-end with smart survey design to step change the respondent experience and the utility of the information critical to business decision making.  We did this by adding more flexibility, moving to a modular approach, and using advanced technology instead of humans wherever possible.

Here are some examples of how everyone can evolve their brand tracker (nothing new here really):

  • Reduce your questionnaire length – review what is really used in your organization, cut out what you don’t need, create shorter more modular options;
  • Review number of on-off Modules – understanding that consumer behavior and perception for some categories don’t need constant tracking, thus allowing you to modularize and shorten the surveys;
  • Design for mobile – not just mobile friendly;
  • Review field methodology – create even playing grounds by full digitalization of field technology;
  • Improve sample design – full digitalization allows for a more accurate and cost effective sampling strategy;
  • Improve accuracy of ‘behavioral measures’ – review questions and change to more recent behavioral questions (e.g. last 7 days consumption vs. last month) and observations.
  1. Use technology & automation to get better and faster data processing & turnarounds

Processing multiple streams of data from multiple agencies on some of the largest trackers around the world is not a simple task.  Traditionally, the Infotools team has a state-of-the-art process to manage complex data streams.

Two years ago, Infotools embarked on a journey to further streamline and automate the process and tools that are being used.  The software development team started experimenting with artificial intelligence systems and self-learning algorithms.

For the new tracker, and thanks to the progress in the automated systems, Infotools managed to reduce database delivery turnaround by around 50%.

  1. Use technology to distribute results & insights more impactful

Having a better tracking framework is one part of the solution.  Getting the right information at the right time to the right users is the second part.

Coca-Cola’s tracking eco-system is the solution that changes from a ‘pull-focused’ environment and culture to one that proactively ‘pushes’ information, providing brand managers and marketers the right information at the right time, and giving them ‘space & time to think’ in regards to their decision making.

Some solutions for Coca-Cola include:

  • Real-time interaction with Protocol Custodian App 24/7 – making sure the global track is on track;
  • Automatic Data uploads;
  • Automatic uploads to engaging dashboard solutions for reporting & sharing;
  • Results available everywhere on the go via touch devices;
  • Summary information via Newsletters and Infographics;
  • Customized Alerts & notifications – while automation is taking care of the regular reporting with little human interference, major changes trigger personalized notifications to stakeholders.

The back-end technology is built and available for you today to step change your reach within your organization and reduce the pain of understanding and digesting your knowledge & insight information.  So what are you waiting for?

While, we’ve talked a lot about technology in this blog, don’t forget that people are driving this.  Encourage your agencies to work together as a team.  But remember it’s your responsibility to enable to them to do so.

What do you think?  What’s your view on trackers?  We’d like to hear from you.

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