tFirst market research trade fair a success

The first Market Research Trade Fair sponsored by the Toronto chapter of the Professional Marketing Research Society kicked off last week, attracting more than 200 buyers and researchers.The fair, held at Toronto's Holiday Inn Downtown City Hall, not only provided researchers...

The first Market Research Trade Fair sponsored by the Toronto chapter of the Professional Marketing Research Society kicked off last week, attracting more than 200 buyers and researchers.

The fair, held at Toronto’s Holiday Inn Downtown City Hall, not only provided researchers with a forum to exchange ideas about the latest marketing research techniques, but also gave them the chance to strut their stuff to potential buyers.

Companies represented at the event included Labatt Breweries of Canada, Colgate-Palmolive Canada and Procter & Gamble.

Two topics dominated the day-long conference: the importance of building brand equity and new developments in continuous tracking.

The recent focus on building brand equity, compared with the 1980s concern with launching new products and line extensions, has posed new challenges for market researchers, according to many of the conference speakers.

There is a need for better analytical techniques to examine the complex relationship between variables that help to explain brand loyalty and brand equity, Brenda Graham of Camelford Graham Research Group told the near-capacity audience.

‘For such analyses, we need a large battery of brand association evaluation attributes, reflecting all the dimensions which make up brand equities,’ Graham said.

When marketers ‘discovered’ brand equity in the 1980s, they cashed in on it, rather than trying to build over the long-term, said John Fryer, of ISL International Surveys, in a presentation for BrandBuilder, a model for researching brand equity.

Fryer says marketers directed too much attention on specific product features, rather than focussing on building the strength of their brand names.

Consequently, he says, in the 1990s, many brands are in the position of competing with lower-priced store brands with features equal to those of the national brands.

Fryer says BrandBuilder works by tieing two data sources together. The model links consumer attitudinal surveys with real world buying behavior in an attempt to identify the equity drivers necessary for brand building.

New thinking about continuous tracking was the focus of many of the afternoon talks.

While all of the speakers agreed that continuous tracking is growing in importance for advertisers and marketers, they disagreed about what should be measured and how best to quantify the results.

While continuous tracking in the past has focussed on pre- and post-tests, many of the speakers presented models in which tracking would be expanded to interviewing consumers on a continuous basis.

For example, Alix Davenport, of Tandemar Research, presented Adgraph, a research program in which specific product categories are monitored for awareness, trial, image and buying behavior.

Davenport said the advantage of Adgraph is that is supplies greater sensitivity to changes in the marketing mix than can obtained from traditional pre/post or wave tracking studies.

Similarly, Alastair Hay of Burwell Hay Marketing presented the Continuous Advertising Feedback methodology involving face-to-face interviews throughout initial airing periods with results being read on a weekly basis.

The technique focusses on the effect of multiple viewing – whether the ad is liked, whether it is being viewed in its entirety or passed over, and whether the information it contains still appears informative.

Peter Carter, of DJC Research, stressed the importance of measuring not just the messenger, but the message: what people are taking away from the advertising.

‘Are they only recognizing the creative treatment, or are they recognizing the brand?’ Carter asked.

Other speakers throughout the day addressed the need to expedite the information processes.

Paul Mutch, of Skill Dynamics Canada, presented a computer-aided research technique designed to get answers in focus group discussions or brainstorming management sessions more quickly by linking participants through interconnected personal computers which can quickly synthesize respondents’ input.