How do you keep your brand strategy relevant as the market evolves? Here are 5 ways brand image research helped an Italian brand of cooking appliances that is more than 130 years old.
Ten years ago, Bertazzoni Inc. introduced its brand of ranges and cooktops in the U.S. market, and results have been excellent. Planning for the future, management wanted to understand how to evolve the brand strategy for continued growth.
To do so, MMR Strategy Group conducted two types of brand image research. First, we conducted focus groups for qualitative exploration of consumer attitudes. Then, we conducted an online survey with customers to provide the quantitative data that drives decisions. Together, both types of research answered key questions such as which brand values connect with consumers, which brand and product characteristics drive purchase, and how brand performance varies across different steps in the purchase cycle.
Background on the Bertazzoni Brand Image
Bertazzoni is an Italian brand sold around the world with strong values. It is known as a category specialist, an innovator in cooking technology, and as having a strong family heritage. It is currently owned and managed by the 6th generation of family members. Their Italian designed products are distinctive, beautiful, and high quality. Made in Italy means family, style, and excellent culinary traditions. In the U.S. market, it is priced lower than other high end professional cooking appliance brands.
5 Ways Brand Image Research Can Help Your Brand Image
Using the Bertazzoni project as an example, here are 5 ways brand image research can help you improve your brand strategy. Brand image research can:
1. Explore the emotional connection consumers have with your brand
Brands offering both superior functional and emotional benefits usually have the strongest market position. In general, functional benefits can be more easily matched by competitors, while emotional benefits are harder to copy. A brand’s emotional connection with consumers can be an important, more defendable, way to distinguish the brand in the marketplace.
Focus groups are an excellent way to explore the emotional connection between consumer and brand. In the case of Bertazzoni, we held in-depth conversations with small groups of customers. In advance of the groups, some participants wrote stories about their experience with the brand, other participants made collages, and some even wrote poems. We also talked to non-customers and sent them to appliance retailers to shop so they could share their experiences during the groups.
The focus groups helped us explore the emotions around cooking appliances and key brands. Results provided insight into which of the many Bertazzoni brand values resonate emotionally with customers and non-customers and which to focus on in their brand strategy. Information about the sales experience revealed opportunities to establish stronger connections with potential customers.
2. Identify the brand values that drive purchase
Ideally, a brand strategy focuses on the brand values that drive purchase.
Focus groups can help identify a set of reasons why consumers buy your brand. However, effective brand strategies usually focus on just a few benefits. A quantitative brand image study can provide the data useful to identify which benefits have the highest impact on sales.
In the case of Bertazzoni, the brand is rich in values to choose from. But, which really drive sales, those related to Italian design, cooking heritage, product performance, price, or something else?
In quantitative studies, managing questionnaire length is a requirement to maintain the quality of responses. Conducting focus groups before a survey can help ensure valuable questionnaire time explores issues most important for the brand. For Bertazzoni, the focus group identified which values to ask about in the survey, and the survey results helped identify which values are most closely linked to sales.
3. Identify the brand or product characteristics that inhibit growth
Focus groups among customers and non-customers allow in-depth probing about topics such as the product experience and likelihood to purchase or re-purchase. Quantitative brand image studies help identify which factors most impact trial, loyalty, and re-purchase. In the case of Bertazzoni, both research studies provided useful input for setting priorities in areas such as customer service and product development.
4. Map the sales process and identify a brand’s strengths and weaknesses
Focus groups can explore how a brand performs in key stages of the customer purchase process, from awareness to consideration to purchase. In the case of Bertazzoni, for the focus groups, non-customers spent several hours shopping at an appliance store for two brands assigned to them in advance.
During the focus groups, we listened to their feedback and identified areas in the sales process that could be improved. We also received input that helped to focus the questions in the survey. Quantitative input helped management identify which areas at retail were most critical to address in the short term.
5. Collect data helpful for communicating the new strategy to sales and the trade
Making changes in a brand strategy requires effective communication to get key partners, such as the advertising agency, the salesforce, and the trade, on board.
Presentations that include video clips from focus groups and data from a large sample of customers can be very convincing. In the case of Bertazzoni, both studies provided engaging first hand feedback from actual consumers, helping the whole organization believe in and focus on a similar set of priorities. A picture can really be worth a thousand words, and video from the focus groups proved very effective for Bertazzoni’s retail partners.
The Bertazzoni case study shows how brand image research can generate important insights about a brand. This type of research measures how consumers perceive a brand, whether they are loyal, why they are loyal, and how the brand relates to the competition.
Brand image research may help you improve your brand strategy by allowing you to:
- Explore the emotional connection consumers have with your brand
- Identify the brand values that drive purchase
- Identify the brand and product characteristics that inhibit growth
- Map the sales process and identify a brand’s strengths and weaknesses
- Collect data helpful for communicating the new strategy to sales and the trade
Conducting focus groups as well as a survey requires a larger budget. However, the benefits from doing both often outweighs the extra cost. For Bertazzoni, both were key in cooking up a new strategy.
MMR Strategy Group