Category Archives: Market Research

Because even we don’t know everything

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Sometimes even creative professionals need a little more education.

We were sitting around yesterday discussing different ways to increase the long-term value for our clients brands. And during the meeting someone said, “so the question is: are there other ways, in addition to what we are doing, to measure brand equity?” To which one of team said, “Brand equity, is that like home equity?” Brand Equity Basics – it sounded like a great blog topic to me, at the time.

What is Brand Equity?

In a nut shell it is the difference between of benefits between having a brand name as opposed to not having one. When your brand is well-known enough then you can charge people more money, or premium prices, for your product. A few examples of brands that are able to sell at premium prices include; Nike, Adidas, Apple, Chiquita bananas, VW and TOMS. And a couple of non-name brands include companies like; Jewel Companies Generic Cola and Kroger’sNaturally Preferred. But even house brands are beginning to gain brand equity, like Boots skin care products being sold at Target in the US. However, in the ever-changing world of marketing even generic brands such as No Name Brand is growing brand equity and using it to increase prices for products.

What isn’t a Brand?

Because everyone seems to believe that they understand what a brand is – I thought it might be a good moment to write about what a brand isn’t. A brand isn’t a logo – according to Marty Neumeier – and that is a key thing to remember. That means that things like the Nike Swoosh, the 3-strips from Adidas, the golden arches of McDonald’s or the white apple from Apple is not a brand, but a logo. This is a key thing to remember and not get confused about.

How we attempt to measure Brand Equity?

A brand’s equity is ultimately derived from the actions and words of consumers. As marketing professionals we are constantly testing ways to effectively measure the value of a brand for stakeholders. There are three key levels for measuring a brand are at the corporate, product and consumer level.

Corporate level – This is where a firm makes a calculation regarding how much the brand is worth as an intangible asset.

Product level – This is a measurement where one compares the price of a no-name or private label product to an “equivalent” branded product. This is very difficult when you are attempting to predict the worth and achieve FMA.

Consumer level – Attempts to map the mind of the consumer to find out what associations with the brand the consumer has. In this case high brand equity is associated with strong and favorable high levels awareness.

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The beginning of a long travel begins with a small decision – a call to arms for Transmedia Research

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The beginning of a long travel begins with a small decision – a call to arms for Transmedia Research

For the past six-months I have asked myself, ‘Is Transmedia storytelling a popular phenomenon or does it have a lasting effect for people using social media?’ We, at Newman Partnership, Ltd. realize that the best way to confirm if this true is to do some research.
One of my favorite ways to pass an already busy afternoon.

The New GenerationOur research will attempt to discover if: 1) Are people actually retelling stories that they see in new ways or expanding on previous stories – either from entertainment or popular advertising – or engaging when commercials ask you to send in your stories or ask for your insights? And 2) are these heavy and/or light users of social media. We are attempting to discover if people are becoming more involved in the transmedia process? And if light users of social media are growing in their usage of storytelling.

What is Transmedia?

“Transmedia storytelling is a technique of telling stories across multiple platforms and formats.” – Wikipedia Definition

Transmedia marketing is an emerging marketing technique developed to interact with audiences across multiple forms of marketing to develop brand and product awareness.

Transmedia campaigns encourage audiences to engage in the marketing process by mixing social media with classical marketing techniques.  It is a conversation between the marketing department and the target audience.  This conversation is created when the company provides opportunities for the audience to develop or recreate the original story under new narratives. And it is not simply a top-down corporate advertising or marketing campaign but a combination of top-down and grass-roots bottom-up.

Who are we looking for?

The Important InformationI am looking to interview men between 16-35 years of age. Who are using social media in some form on a bi-weekly rate.

If you are interested, or think that you have information that would be interesting to this research then please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at sloan@newmanpartnership.com.

What will it cost you?

If you just drop me an email to asking to participate in this research, then I will add you to our contact book and contact you in the next few weeks about completing questionnaire online. The questionnaire will only take about 10 to 15 minutes, and your answers will prove invaluable in the future.

In the coming weeks, I will also be approaching several Transmedia agencies to see if they might be interested in becoming involved in this research. If you are an agency, then please contact me to find out more.

Where will the interviews be?

Interviews will be conducted using an online research technique, and face-to-face interviews will also be conducted when possible.

What will your time mean?

By contributing to this research you will be helping to discover and better understand how people are using the social media to influence stories and advertising. It is my hope that this initial research will help to draw enough conclusive lines to encourage a quantitative research in the future.

You should wait for the new iPad

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Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

While observational research should be used to help make important research observations about changes in the market it can also be used to help make informed daily decisions.

We at Newman Partnership use a lot of Apple products. We have yet to find a use for the new iPad in our daily work life, but that doesn’t mean that you haven’t found a use for it in your company. And we wanted to chance to weigh in on how this product before next month. Many people are considering buying an iPad or waiting until a new version becomes available. It is my opinion that Apple will launch a new version with possible forward facing camera within the next two months.

This is not wishful thinking but using simple observational techniques to make an informed decision.

Simply looking at the store advertising at Apple, combined with the current offers that are being emailed, one can generate a strong hypothesis about what is coming soon from Apple.

Screen image of the Nano

Image of the Nano from the Apple store in Charleston

In these images you can see how the screens in Apple’s stores show a new diagonal light reflection technique on their existing in-store marketing pieces (you can almost see it in the examples). But this reflective technique is not used on the advertising on the iPad, which would seem to be either a mistake in the marketing of Apple products or that they are awaiting releasing new marketing material until a new product was released.

Image of the iPad from the Apple store in Charleston

Newman Partnership, Ltd. isn’t trying to say that Apple’s tablet is better than other tablet products on the market, or that you shouldn’t buy an iPad if you have dire need for one. But that this is simply an example of using observational techniques in other areas of daily decision-making and how it can benefit others.

If you have other examples of observational research then I encourage you to write or post your comments here at Newman Partnership, Ltd.

Flash and HTML – Who will be using your website?

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The first time that I heard of observational research I didn’t even know it.
I was 18-years-old, driving to the ocean and listening to National Public Radio. The program was discussing a biography about Milton S. Hershey, the founder of The Hershey Chocolate Company. He would spend a few weeks a year working in a shop where Hershey chocolate was being sold. He would meet and speak with people buying products. Now it could be seen that he was just enjoying meeting people, but I like to believe that he was conducting observational research. He was watching people to see and better understand their buying habits and desires for new products.

Observational research is a social study technique of direct observation by which people or societies are observed in their natural setting. The major advantage to this type of research is that if you are clever then you can gain quick and important insight into your consumers. But one main disadvantage of this type of research is that it changes from situation to situation, and it cannot be used to study cognitive or affective variables.

However, maybe we are sometimes too quick to go out and do expensive focus groups and quantitative research when we should take a second to consider doing simple observational research. Especially, when companies are selling products that are fast moving consumer goods where consumers behaviors can be observed.

During my first-year of post-graduate classes I had a brilliant professor, Dr. Niall Caldwell, who taught marketing research at London Metropolitan University. In the third week of class he gave us a problem:
You are in charge of marketing for a small classical church in Southern Scotland. You have been given the responsibility to decide where to place a gift shop/ informational. But you have no money or time to conduct traditional market research. What is the solution to keep on time and within budget?

The answer: “Look at the carpet.” That is because the carpet will show you footfall of visitors.

“Put your money where your mouth is,” or “Shut-up and drive!”

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It seems unfair for an agency to tell people that they create digital marketing communications without having something of their own to show that. That is why we have tried to create a clean, direct website for clients to see who we are and what we do. Too often we see many of the large global agencies let their websites run wild with too much information and too little real content. That is why we have taken a simple mentality to creating the Newman Partnership, Ltd. site. It tells the simple truths; this is who we are and what we do.

Step 1: What do you stand for?

Audience, SWOT and Maslow

We began developing our layout by thinking about what defined the Newman Partnership, Ltd. We are a 10-year-old company that was created by Lloyd (Larry) N. Newman, a public relations pioneer in issues management and crisis management and was a former partner in a global public relations firm. Our primary focus is digital marketing communications and social media. Our other areas of specialty include market research and public relations crisis management.

As a boutique agency we rely on a large network of talented people that we can bring in on a per-project basis. This means having some of the best independent minds who know their specialty better than anyone and who work from different countries around the world. it also means world-class talent at a fraction of the cost for the client.

Nielsen Norman Group

the Nielsen Norman Group

To reflect this in our website we created a message that was youthful and a color scheme that is inviting. While the website has several fun aspects it still creates a professional cleanness for companies who want to work with us.  We also considered layout for effective content from the F-Shaped pattern for web users.

Step 2: Are you talking to me?

Once we had defined who we were, and how we wanted the rest of the world to see us, we needed to focus on our audience. Our target audiences include automotive, arts, technology, fashion and health-care/cosmetics groups looking to maximize their digital presence while trying to decrease their costs.

When we begin working on any project we start with the same question, “What is the core of your business? And how do you want to let people know that you are there and get them to notice you.” Because Newman Partnership, Ltd. is not only about getting noticed but also making a lasting impact.

Step 3: What are the rest of you thinking?

The Newman Partnership, Ltd. website

The Newman Partnership, Ltd. website

A smart director always buys his competitor’s products. When designing our website we also looked at what our competitors are using. We created an abridged version of the FCB model and how other boutique advertising and communications agencies defined themselves via their websites.

Agencies tend to define themselves using either emotional or rational reasons. Since we consider ourselves a highly creative agency, we chose to focus our website on a combination the emotional appeals of working with a smaller agency with the rational appeals of working with an agency that has a powerful professional history.

Newman Partnership, Ltd. website is now online, and we are available for projects and new clients.

Coming Soon!

Next time we will discuss the first 3 things that you need when you start creating your website.

Location, Location, Location – Bad locations are just as bad as no location (Part 3 of 3)

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Conclusion

NPL had their last client meeting two weeks later. The following were our final proposed ideas:

Repositioning – Consider changing the theme of the restaurant to something that the patrons can identify with. While paintings by Jonathan Green may be beautiful and colorful, the people in Hampton, SC may identify with more traditional art. Pick pieces that can help to generate a local atmosphere.

Change the look and possibly the items offered in the menu. Not everyone is going to be interested in having fresh New England clam chowder, but they might be interested in simple shrimp and grits.

Qualitative marketing research – A simple questionnaire or even non-focused face-to-face discussions with her patrons while they are eating could provide powerful insights. From what patrons like and don’t like to community groups and how her restaurant could become involved.

Community outreach – NPL strongly suggested that she become involved with the local schools, farmers and government officials. She could offer the restaurant as a meeting place or possibly special discounts for target groups. NPL thought that it would be a nice idea for the home economics class to have a lock-in at the restaurant to learn about cooking.

The client stated that while these were all good ideas that they simply didn’t have the time or money to invest in these changes.

The restaurant eventually closed and the client returned to Charleston to manage a successful five star restaurant.

Location was more important than accessibility 

Blocked in on all sides

Sometimes location can be very important, but other times a poor location can be just as bad as no location. Think about that the next time you are organizing your offer or looking to open a new location.

Part 1 – Bad locations are just as bad as no location
Part 2 – Bad locations are just as bad as no location

Soon to come… How product placement and location can be used to be brilliant for your audiences.



Location, Location, Location – Bad locations are just as bad as no location (Part 2 of 3)

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Ideas and thoughts for the Restaurateur Client

Two weeks later NPL had our second meeting with the client. After reviewing the average income of the town, educational levels, art and festival venues and general demographics, NPL realized that it was impossible for this type of restaurant to sustain itself in this location. Our first suggestion was, due to the location of the restaurant, that we didn’t feel it was possible for her to accomplish her goals while ensuring profitability.

Our suggestion: She should close her restaurant and return to Charleston. She could manage a local restaurant and then try again at a later point. The client was not happy with this suggestion and dismissed it.

The client argued that her restaurant was a pillar of the community.  And that it was important to stay in Hampton because so many other companies had recently closed in the town. She had also fallen in love with the town. The client asked NPL to come back with more suggestions in two weeks.

I know that we all like to dream that anything is possible, but sometimes your need to take a cold shower and open your eyes to reality. In this case, a bad location was just as bad as having no location. Too often, we have seen intelligent companies failing because either poor product positions or they have a poor location. And when you ask people why they haven’t repositioned their business/ product it always comes down to their being a little hard-headed.

People say, “We know the people,” “We are still making money,” “We owe it to the community” or “When we first opened here the location was wonderful.” What most people mean to say is, “We didn’t plan far enough ahead and didn’t realize pay attention to what was happening in our communities. But now we think it is too late to change.”

No matter whom you are (manager, account exec, CEO, President, mechanic or consultant) you need the ability to convince people that you know what you are talking about, and not make them feel stupid in the process. I say this now, but then I was just out of University, and I tended to speak before thought.

No matter what the size of your company you should always be aware of changes in the environment around you. Being passive, indecisive or reluctant to look to the future is just as detrimental as making uninformed decisions.

Sometimes we have to stare the facts right in the face and realize that the world is ever-changing. And if we aren’t willing to change and make difficult decisions then we will be left behind.

The second of a three-part blog. Next time we will discuss, ‘how do we keep the client in business?’ And we have a few thoughts for our conclusion.

Part 1 – Bad locations are just as bad as no location