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To Take a Stand or To Play it Safe? The Choice Can Affect Your Brand Consideration

Posted by Jen Golden

Thu, Dec 19, 2019

Companies today have a lot to think about. Not only do they need to create compelling products and/or services that meet consumers’ functional needs, but how much consumers relate to a company’s  values is also crucial in gaining and building customer loyalty. Topics that used to be considered taboo, like race, politics, gender-identity and equality are becoming top-of-mind in brand campaigns and content, and a mis-alignment with customers can be very detrimental to a company or brand (take Pepsi’s failed campaign with Kendall Jenner as an example).

A brand’s Social Benefits includes how much a consumer agrees with the values, ethics, or morals expressed by a brand and how much a consumer believes a brand reflects their own personality, tastes or values.

  • In a recent self-funded study, CMB surveyed ~20,000 customers and prospects across 81 Finance, Tech, and Media brands.
  • Looking across brands, consumers who agree with the values, ethics, or morals expressed by a brand are over 3x as likely to consider using (or continue to use a brand) than those who disagree with the brand’s views in these areas. There is an even bigger gap for social media companies (those who agree are 5x more likely to consider a social media brand than those who do not agree with the values, ethics or morals expressed!).
  • Feeling neutral on a brand’s values, ethics, or morals doesn’t directly benefit brands. In fact, it’s not much better to have consumers feeling neutral on your brand’s social stance than having them disagree with what your brand is doing. Taking a stance can often be worth the risk if you are doing right in the mind of your customer.

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  • The same pattern holds true when we look at consumers perception that a brand reflects their own personality, tastes or values. They are over 5x more like to consider a brand if they agree with this sentiment.

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Agreeing and identifying with a brand’s values can also spill over into perceptions of a typical brand user. Consumers who agree that a brand reflects their personality, tastes or values are more likely to identity with the typical brand user – and this includes their political views. People who believe they share the same political views of a typical brand user are more likely to consider the brand than those who do not (40% are very likely to consider if they identify with politics of the typical brand user vs. 25% consideration for those who do not).

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As far as politics go, HBO has recently run into some backlash with their new show Watchmen, which is based on a political, left-leaning comic. While the show is getting rave reviews from critics and fans, some have flooded Rotten Tomatoes to give negative reviews calling the show “too woke” and questioning its “politically correct” narrative.  

BUT, is this something HBO needs to be worried about? HBO’s current customers skew progressive politically, and 58% of HBO’s customers identify with the perceived political views of a typical HBO user. 54% of HBO’s customers also believe that HBO reflects their own personality, tastes or values. While HBO may be angering some by choosing to air Watchmen, they are willing to take a risk to connect more closely to the politics their core customer base identifies with vs. not engaging in the topic of politics at all.

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Ultimately, people want to feel connected with their favorite brands, and with increased political polarization, it’s more important than ever for brands to understand their customers. Intimately knowing your audience (like HBO may have known when they green-lit Watchmen) can make it safer to take a stand politically or otherwise. In fact, taking a stand can deepen the audience’s emotional connection with the brand because it is aligned with their customer’s personal beliefs, making them a more loyal and engaged customer. Actress Regina King from the Watchmen series said it best when she said in response to the show “Most of us, as human beings, want to feel like someone else knows their pain and is talking about what they’re talking about.


Jennifer GoldanJennifer Golden, Project Director.

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Topics: brand health and positioning, co-creation, BrandFx, brand tracking, Social Benefits

Wear Your Brand Hat to Ensure Segmentation Adoption

Posted by Brenda Ng

Tue, Sep 24, 2019

Wear Your Brand HatThe best segmentation is wasted if your internal teams and agencies aren’t using it.  Compared to a one-time launch event, an adoption campaign takes place over time, and allows for new behaviors and an understanding of the target segments’ lens to groove.   

Brand Hat

Create and have fun with an adoption campaign by putting on a brand and product management hat.

  • Target: Which groups should adopt the new segmentation?  Marketing, sales, product, executive leadership, agencies, finance, customer service?  This determines the scope and reach of the campaign.
  • Goals: Focus on deep understanding of your prioritized, target segments, not necessarily every category segment.  What behaviors do you want to see?
  • Duration: Like any product launch, the campaign could be broken down into three parts: pre-launch to anticipate and raise awareness; launch to introduce; and post-launch to provide reinforcement.
  • Naming: Own it!  Create a name for the campaign that links to the segments or the benefit of transitioning to a new segmentation.  It can be activated during the pre-launch, teaser phase.  For example, “Coming soon.  A Fresh Perspective.”  Or “They’re arriving.  The Fabulous Four.”

Fun. Fit.

A bevy of fun, engaging ideas can be modified to fit your company’s culture or industry.  Everyone has a different learning style, so mix it up to dial up the reach.  A few jump-start ideas:

  • Create each segment’s LinkedIn profile. Or create Tinder profiles.
  • If each segment had an Instagram account what would that look like? If you have the budget, provide instant cameras, assign a segment to a team (or better, have a team member complete the algorithm to determine their segment), and have them complete a scavenger hunt using snapped pictures.  Use cellphone cameras for a no-budget option.  Or create a Fun Friday where each team dresses up like a segment, brings a segment’s favorite foods to share, plays their anthem in the background—and the other teams guess the segment.
  • Create an internal website or database that has the facts, figures, sizing, valuation, etc. to be used in estimates, forecasting, and modeling.
  • Rename conference rooms by segment name, for 3-6 months. One conference room per segment. Further bring the segment to life through decorations, and interactive experiences.

Brief Details

Small details matter to reinforce adoption of the new target segments. 

Refresh templates for creative briefs, new product briefs, and market research briefs to include a trigger:  Which target segment is this effort for?  Leave space to include important insights and numbers.

Now, you have the keys to a successful segmentation.  We’re happy to help.


Brenda NgBrenda Ng, VP of Strategy and Account Planning, spearheads CMB's engagement solutions from product development to strategic planning.

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Topics: product development, marketing strategy, market strategy and segmentation, brand tracking, experiential marketing, engagement strategy

Brand Tracking for the Digital-first World

Posted by Ashley Harrington

Wed, Dec 12, 2018

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In today’s digital world, there are innumerable ways to reach your customers. It’s critical to know where, when, and how your brand is performing so you can prioritize your marketing resources and investments accordingly—where is your brand resonating most with consumers?

Traditional brand tracking gets at this somewhat with questions like, “Which of the following brands, if any, do you recall seeing an advertisement for in the last three months?” Respondents are then asked to identify the specific channels they saw (or heard) the ad—was it on TV? The radio? Social media?

But this questioning can be tricky because it relies on respondents’ ability to accurately recount their memory of an ad. However, remembering specific ads isn’t always easy—sometimes we’ve seen respondents citing television commercials for brands that don’t advertise on TV.

To avoid relying solely on respondent recollection, one solution is to leverage behavioral data to blend digital ad tracking (e.g., conversation rates, new sessions) with traditional brand tracking data (e.g., “Please recall a specific ad”).

At CMB, we take this traditional advertising question a step further by tagging and tracking the performance of a brand’s digital ads, then incorporating those insights into the overall brand tracking program.

We’re able to tag respondents as either “exposed” (saw an ad) or “control” (did not see an ad) so we know for sure if they in fact experienced an ad—even if they don’t remember it themselves. This tagging mechanism allows us to measure the lift in perceptions associated with ad exposure based on verifiable behavior versus just respondent recall.

Ultimately, this digital approach can help provide more context around:

  • How did exposure to a specific digital ad impact consumer perception or consideration?
  • Do certain digital advertising tactics impact particularly segments differently?
  • Which campaigns or messaging resonate best and lead to action?digital brand tracking example

Linking behavioral data to digital ad and traditional brand tracking can help paint a fuller picture of a brand’s marketing performance. It helps fill in some gaps between traditional digital ad tracking (e.g., clicks, sessions) and traditional brand tracking (e.g., “Which ad do you recall seeing?”) so marketers can better understand which strategies are working.

Of course, there are considerations when integrating this kind of data into your brand tracking study:

  • Not everything can be tagged. For example, certain channels don’t allow for this type of media tagging. So, marketing campaigns or strategies that rely heavily on the channels that are blocked may not be the best fit.
  • Weighting/sampling. In some cases, it’s possible that a “lift” we see among those who are exposed may be due to a difference in demographics related to targeting. Therefore, we recommend considering setting certain key qualities to equal when making comparisons.
  • It’s tough to track competitive ads, so it’s still valuable to ask those stated recall questions as they can tell us how recall fares vs. the competition.

As marketers continue to invest in digital strategies, it’s critical brand tracking programs evolve to consider these investments. By measuring digital ad exposure based on verifiable data, we're able to help marketers better understand what's working—informing smarter decision making.

Ashley Harrington is a Research Director at CMB who is hoping behavioral data will one day provide us with a clever solution to the age-old expression: “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

Topics: brand health and positioning, brand tracking