About a 4 min. read
A sustainable market strategy isn’t a new challenge for businesses. Apple has been leaning into privacy as a key pillar of its brand identity and market extension strategy for quite some time, and their continuous improvements protecting consumer privacy—like with the recent iOS 15.0 updates—is a big win. However, despite selling more than a billion iPhones and rapidly expanding its ad business, Apple is not perceived in a positive light among marketers and businesses that rely on ad sales.
The flip side of protecting consumer privacy is the prevention of businesses accessing valuable consumer information (e.g., the new Mail Privacy Protection setting). Yet, Apple is also trying to grow its presence within IT departments, where company and employee privacy remains a key issue. So how can a company leverage positive brand perception, regardless of audience, to bolster the lag among the others? Does a halo perception among consumers translate to positive perceptions among business decision-makers? Or vice versa?
There are plenty of instances where brand perception may be consistently strong but conveyed differently across audiences. Amazon began as an online book seller for consumers that grew into the behemoth it is today, and now includes essential B2B services like AWS. In other cases, one audience can be a much stronger brand advocate than the other. T-Mobile has grown from the underdog consumer wireless carrier to a Big 3 carrier with its fun, splashy consumer brand. On the contrary, T-Mobile may need an image or messaging adjustment to be taken seriously in the B2B space and explore how its ubiquitous high-energy consumer image can be adapted to prove its chops for enterprise business. And back to the Apple brand: synonymous with innovation for consumer products, it has expanded its portfolio tremendously (e.g., Apple TV and programming – Ted Lasso anyone?) including AI and self-driving cars, while also growing as a standard brand within IT departments throughout private business, schools, and government. Apple has broad positive perceptions, but lots of room to grow with its B2B brand perceptions.
So, what’s an insights researcher to do while navigating multiple audiences with branding? Here are some key things to keep in mind when working on your brand insights and strategy:
Seems simple, but maybe your company is not completely on board with supporting a strategy to multiple audiences. And if they’re not, it’s even more important to either be sure that’s an acceptable strategy, or to do research that demonstrates a need for multiple audience support. While some brands only cater to consumers or B2B, many are playing in both worlds and need specific custom research for each. There’s no lumping things together here: each audience deserves its own messaging to drive the best ROI. Some key pillars may (and should) be consistent across the audiences, but there likely are enough differences in the composition of the audiences to warrant individual marketing strategies.
We know that some of your stakeholders don’t “believe” market research or just think they know what resonates best. But if it were that easy, none of us would have careers in the insights realm, and marketing teams would just run with whatever they thought best while watching their campaigns flop. It takes testing to determine optimal messaging themes and content, for everything from social media marketing, to CRM email campaigns and national broadcast communications.
What if you don’t know which messaging should be tested with which audience? Consider an initial qualitative phase that allows for discovery of themes to use in testing. This phase can help bridge the gap between C-suite hunches and quantitative analysis in the marketplace.
Plan your quantitative research design based on outcomes and the analysis that needs to be done. A questionnaire is often developed from a simple list of items clients want to address which then drives the analysis and reporting. But…the overall study objectives should be driving the content of the questionnaire, keeping in mind what outcomes you are trying to determine that lead to an optimal messaging strategy. What are the key messaging pillars for your brand? How many themes or pillars are being tested across multiple audiences? Ideally, key brand themes will exist across multiple audiences, while the well-designed surveys and appropriate sampling plans are the framework for providing the data.
We are consultants and will do our best work with what we have and our expertise in the field. But please share any prior related research, marketing plans, and background information. We enjoy fitting the pieces of the puzzle together in a holistic approach. We want to be an extension of your team.
If your brand has multiple audiences to target, you know the stakes are high, and the potential revenue is enormous. CMB helps companies navigate the brand chasm across different audiences and markets by planning and designing research to address complex objectives, providing well-planned in-depth analysis, and telling a cohesive story that contains a roadmap for the most strategic path forward.