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Managing Change in Tracking Studies for Trendability and Relevance

Posted On  July 3, 2019
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It happened. After months, maybe even years of relative stability in your marketplace, there’s been a disruption. A fresh upstart gained market share. An industry mainstay went out of business. Your customers changed their behavior and their expectations. Has your brand tracking program kept up?

Your tracker needs to keep up with the dynamic marketplace, and that is where the tension exists. You want to maintain trendability, but changes to your tracking program makes reading the market a bit messier than you or your stakeholders would like. Without the ability to change, your tracker will lose relevance.

Change can be hard and cause trepidation, but sometimes, it’s necessary. Change can even be exciting, if you anticipate and are ready to adapt to it. Here’s our guidance on key actions you can take to more effectively manage change in your tracking program to keep it relevant and you sane.

  1. Set stakeholders’ expectations. Let them know the tracker must keep pace with the marketplace it seeks to monitor. Manage them through the changes and any data blips these changes cause.
  2. Envision a future state. Consider hypotheses about trends in consumers, markets, products, and disruption. Ask your stakeholders to answer questions like:
    • How are consumer behaviors likely to change in the next two or three years?
    • What new technologies are affecting how consumers engage with brands?
    • How are consumers willing to provide feedback?
    • What new territorial or product markets might emerge?
    • What are your marketing campaigns for the quarter or year?
    • How would they want to engage with the information you are providing?
    • What new information sources can be integrated into the tracking analysis?
  3. Design your survey to anticipate or absorb the likely changes. For example, consider modularity to minimize disruption posed by addition of new questions. Hold space to measure the awareness of marketing campaigns and their impact on your key metrics.
  4. Anticipate changes in how respondent behavior will change. For example, you may need to change sampling to address increasing mobile penetration in different markets. Consequently, you should monitor the devices used to take the survey and your sample composition.
  5. Establish a regular cadence for evaluating the need for change. For mature categories it might be yearly; for new ones, it might be more often. Constant change is inefficient and ineffective, but overlooking an important shift due to inattention will undermine the value of the tracker. Stay on top of it.
  6. Adapt to changes in your staff. Ensure that your tracking partner conducts an in-depth onboarding process for your new tracking lead, taking them through the study manual, methodology, reporting and quality assurance practices in detail.
  7. Make sure any new vendor has a robust transition program and can guide you and your stakeholders through the process.

Change management is key to running an informative and relevant tracking program. Consequently, we dedicate considerable time and talent to developing future-forward trackers that can adapt to the needs of the market, consumers and your business.

Sometimes you need to change your vendor because of data quality, service, or value issues. We understand. We commit to guiding you through the murky waters of what we sometimes call “the dark side of quality”. That’s when your new vendor rebuilds your program, but with elevated quality protocols and a modernized methodology, causing different (i.e., more valid) results.

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Thinking your brand tracking program needs a change? Let’s talk more about how we can work together so your tracking program can keep up with the change while remaining relevant.

Written by Joan Cassidy
Joan oversees a team responsible for developing LRW’s brand through a combination of content, digital and event marketing. Her expertise lies at the intersection of marketing, research and technology. Joan joined LRW in 1990 as a researcher and has worked on some of LRW’s biggest client relationships and projects as an expert in branding, customer experience, tracking, and technology, before transitioning to her current role in marketing. She received her B.A. in economics from UCLA.

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