We have been running global brand tracking programs for some of the world’s most iconic brands for over 30 years. Just about every time we transition a client’s tracker from another agency, they report struggling to keep the research fresh, and they’ve almost always been struggling to deliver new insights with each reporting cycle. They’ve decided to work with us because they are hoping to make their tracker more dynamic and ultimately more actionable.
These hopes and expectations aren’t unreasonable. A new client recently told me, “If I get another 100-page PowerPoint deck full of boring trend charts, I will rip my fingernails off.” Another said she would just like to see us provide a little pizzazz compared to their previously lifeless reports.
Given our successful long-term relationships with global brands, we wanted to share some of the ways we keep things fresh. Because if a tracker isn’t actionable, why even do it?
One great way to help bring brand tracking findings to life is through the usage of video open ends. Asking real consumers what topics like Value, Quality, and most recently Safety mean to them can shed a lot of light on why a higher-level metric like these might be shifting over time, while providing insight on what brands can do to address the issue. In fact, almost any topic warranting a deeper dive to fully understand a finding is a great candidate for video open ends.
For example, in the retail and rideshare space, the topic of Safety took on a whole new meaning in 2020. Capturing the best video responses and synthesizing them into a story-driven highlight reel provided us with a nice way to breathe some new energy into the reporting for our client. At the same time, the deliverable provided actionable insights in a format that is a lot more digestible and fun than a 100-page deck of mostly static data.
In addition to featuring consumer responses in a gritty, realistic format (they’re frequently capturing video on their smartphones), we also employ higher production value to create videos that tell the story of the quarter or a summary of the year. These videos typically include a moderator discussing the brand’s story for the quarter, supported by relevant images of the findings from the latest tracking wave, as well as other company-related information (e.g., sales, ad campaign launches, findings from other research initiatives) to tell a truly holistic story.
A different way to breathe some life into a tracking program is through the usage of well-designed data dashboards. With today’s technology, if you can draw it or design it in a software platform, you can translate it to a visually pleasing data dashboard to make the story jump off the screen in a clean and concise manner for the viewer. With annotations of what the findings mean and what the implications are, the dashboard essentially becomes the report, which can then be exported to PPT or another format desired for hard copy sharing.
More recently, we have adopted the creation of highly visual microsites. These sites are intuitive and easy to navigate, providing the key information emanating from the latest wave (or full year) of tracking quickly and in a story-driven fashion. These are most appropriate for the higher level reader (e.g., C-suite) who wants to get a quick overview in a visual format, but doesn’t want to get into the weeds of the data.
The use of motion graphics in reporting is another tool to quickly and effectively convey complex insights to a broader audience, connecting them to the story you’re telling. Motion graphics are a way to tell a story using animation that combines elements of static design with video. 82% of web traffic will be video by 2022, so it’s worth thinking about how to best incorporate this into your data-solutions, whether it’s a motion graphic incorporated into a report, a high-level motion graphic to be used to present to key stakeholders, or a way to keep relevant information, such as key segments top of mind within a large scale organization.
The blending of data streams from different sources is especially conducive to tracking, which can tie everything back up into a single, cohesive brand story. Additionally, the data can be modeled in Advanced Market Prediction System (AMPs) which truly brings the research to life as it shows what specific measures (e.g., marketing allocations, promotion mix, distribution, etc.) clients can take to optimize their bottom line.
In this age of digital media domination, market research report formats are going to continue to evolve. Rather than clinging on to an antiquated format for old time’s sake, we encourage you to push the envelope on how your research findings are delivered. Whatever techniques you choose to employ, I guarantee there will never again be a need to lose your fingernails over another boring tracking report.