Conducting Internal Primary Market Research
The brand review process doesn’t end with secondary research, which you learned about in Parts 1 and 2 of the Brand Review Basics series. To fully review a brand and position it for ongoing success, you must conduct primary market research as well. In Part 3 of the series, you’ll learn about the internal market research you need to conduct in order to complete a comprehensive brand audit. Why is an internal audit so important? The answer is simple. If your employees don’t believe in your brand, why should paying customers?
Internal primary market research for a brand review should include both qualitative and quantitative research. Begin with exploratory one-on-one interviews with executives and key leaders (who should be championing the brand and living the brand promise on a daily basis), the marketing team (who should be creating communications and programs that spread the promise of the brand), and front-line employees (who should be demonstrating the brand promise and bringing it to life for consumers every day).
Research interviews should include questions that start conversations and uncover deeper insights, problems, and concerns about the brand as well as an understanding of what’s working for the brand’s growth. For example, questions might include:
- Do you understand what a brand is?
- Do you understand what brand equity and brand value are and how they can affect a company?
- Can you explain the brand promise and what it means to you?
- What does the brand promise mean to consumers?
- What is the company leaders’ goals for the brand?
- What do the company leaders believe is the brand promise? Do they live that brand promise?
- Do employees understand the brand promise?
- What confuses employees about the brand and their role in its success?
- Does the marketing team have the resources needed to drive the brand’s success?
- Does the company and the leadership team value the brand enough? Is “brand” a strategic imperative?
- Do employees value the brand enough?
- Does the company have the manpower and resources necessary to live up to the brand promise?
- Does the corporate culture live by the brand promise?
- Do you feel an emotional connection to the brand?
- How does the brand emotionally connect with consumers?
- How is the brand unique?
- What makes the brand better than competitor brands?
- What problems does the brand solve?
- What are the brand’s biggest strengths?
- What are the brand’s biggest weaknesses?
- What competitor brands are you most concerned about and why?
- Can you describe the brand’s personality?
- What do you think should be done to improve the brand?
- Does the brand have a defined and focused niche?
- Do employees understand the brand goals for the next year? 3 years? 5 years?
- Who are the brand’s customers?
- Are you encouraged to talk about the brand outside of work such as on the social web? Are there social media policies you have to follow?
- If someone wrote something negative about the brand online and you saw it, would you feel compelled to jump into the conversation and correct errors or try to help? Why or why not?
Again, these questions are intended to jump start conversations and help you create better quantitative research questions for the broader internal audience. Qualitative research often raises red flags related to a lack of brand buy-in from leaders and executives. If company leaders don’t live the brand promise and lead by example, employees won’t either. Gaping holes are often uncovered during the qualitative research process of a brand review.
The next step of the brand review process is internal quantitative research. You need to gather insights across the company’s entire staff to learn how the brand is perceived, promoted, advocated, guarded, and valued. If the majority of employees don’t know what your brand promises to consumers, then you have a big problem. When all employees understand the brand promise and are encouraged to live it, the brand has a much greater chance for success, employee retention levels increase, the company attracts better applicants and better business partners, and sales go up.
Internal quantitative research should be conducted with all employees at every level, consultants, freelancers, business partners, distributors, and so on. Segment the audience based on roles and how closely their daily responsibilities affect consumers’ perceptions of the brand. Quantitative research should identify problems and opportunities to improve brand support among employees and improve how employees represent the brand to consumers. Questions should identify understanding of and feelings about:
- Brand promise
- Brand perception
- The importance of “brand”
- Brand value
- Brand equity
- Brand position
- Brand strengths
- Brand weaknesses
- Competitor brand strengths and weaknesses
- Feelings toward the brand
- Feelings about how executives and leaders imbue the brand promise
- Problems they foresee
- Missed opportunities
- Brand personality
- Who the brand’s customers are
- Brand differentiators
- Brand benefits
- What it means to live the brand promise
- How their work affects the brand
- Brand goals for the next year, 3-years, 5-years
Keep in mind, reviewing front-line employees who interact with consumers on a daily basis should be even more detailed to ensure they are actually living the brand promise (as opposed to claiming that they live the brand promise when in reality, they do not). Mystery shopping is a great way to “test” front-line employees’ support of the brand.
The next step in the brand review process is conducting external primary market research. Stay tuned for Part 4 of the Brand Review Basics series to learn more. In the meantime, if you missed Part 1 or Part 2 of the series, you can follow the preceding links to read them now.