1. Case Studies in Brand and Advertising Tracking
—A. Banking Brand and Advertising Tracking Study
Our firm conducted a long-term brand and advertising tracking study of retail banking consumers for one of largest financial institutions in the U.S. The study involved telephone interviews with nearly 100,000 banking consumers over 15 years. It has provided a wealth of experience on which to base our judgments about best practices and how to deal with the challenges that arise in this type of study.
The tracking study measured key indicators of brand health, as well as communications, such as unaided and aided brand and advertising awareness, product-specific awareness, and image and service attributes. It also included measures of willingness to consider financial institutions for checking accounts, savings, investments, etc. It addressed the impact of mergers and willingness to recommend the bank. Over time it became more of a brand health study, rather than focusing primarily on communications.
The study was initiated in the New York metropolitan area and was extended in a series of steps to cover consumers in other parts of the United States. Beginning in 1997, it also covered small business executives. Using our network of executive interviewers enabled our firm to complete small business interviews efficiently and less expensively because of a much higher cooperation rate. This tracking study was the only continuing study that provided our client with information on the core elements of its brand.
The data from the study was combined with independently collected data on competitive advertising spending, market share, customer satisfaction, etc., to obtain a complete picture of what was happening to the brand and in the competitive arena. For example, it showed that in the core New York metropolitan area brand awareness had begun to erode seriously. These findings, together with other factors, contributed to a major effort to rebrand and relaunch the retail brand. The small business LOB used the study to demonstrate progress in strengthening its brand assets to the bank’s top management.
—B. Life Insurance Brand and Advertising Tracking Study
We are currently conducting a nationwide advertising tracking study on behalf of one of the leading U.S.-based life insurance companies. The benchmarking wave was based on more than 1,700 interviews, and we are presently conducting 5,200 interviews annually. The study is conducted online, so as to allow us to measure the effectiveness of visuals in addition to obtaining key brand and advertising measures.
The tracking study measures key indicators of brand health, such as unaided and aided brand and advertising awareness, product-specific awareness, as well as image attributes. In addition, it addresses consumers’ willingness to consider insurance companies for insurance and retirement products. Other uses include evaluation of advertising effectiveness in local and ethnic markets.
2. Corporate Image and Strategic Planning Study
Andrews Research Associates carried out a corporate image and strategic planning study for a large European bank among 800 CFO’s, treasurers, and assistant treasurers in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, Holland, Italy, and Spain. The interviews were conducted in the respondents’ native languages.
The objective of the study was to determine how the bank could increase the amount of business it was doing with large corporations in its target market and adapt its communications strategy to this end. We constructed a common coding classification scheme for the open-ended questions and a common set of instructions for the data processing of all questionnaires, so that the data would be internally consistent and comparable across national markets. The findings from the study were integrated and presented in a comprehensive report, which covered all countries and all relevant marketing issues thoroughly.
The study enabled the bank to adjust its communications to emphasize its strengths and presence in local markets, as opposed to its worldwide presence. This approach allowed it to overcome the misperception that in local markets it was a small operation that provided limited services and was not necessarily committed to those markets for the long haul.
3. A Case Study in Qualitative Research Management
—Competitive Benchmarking Study
Our firm carried out a competitive benchmarking study for one of the world’s largest petroleum companies. We succeeded in convincing the directors of investor relations at nine of the 10 largest petroleum companies in the world to share confidential data on investor relations practices, with our firm playing the role of honest broker, serving as a repository for the data, keeping it confidential, and aggregating it, so that each company could see how it measured up against its peers on a wide variety of benchmarks. In addition, we recruited the investor relations directors at nine equally large companies in the health care, chemical, telecommunications, food and beverage, tobacco, and retail industries to share data (anonymously) on their investor relations practices and serve as a control group. The topics covered included organization and resources, work experience and education of IR staff, allocation of functions within the department, IR objectives and performance measurement, program balance, company presentations, communications to management, use of consultants, and disclosure.
4. A Case Study in International Research Management
—Trade Finance Study
Andrews Research Associates conducted two waves of a Trade Finance Study on behalf of one of the largest international banks. It completed 765 interviews with buyers and users of trade finance services in the U.S., Brazil, Mexico, the UK, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Nigeria, and South Africa. Interviewing was conducted in English, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Chinese, including Mandarin and Cantonese.
The study addressed topics such as letters of credit, documentary collections, export document preparation, purchase order processing, vendor financing, supply chain financing, inventory finance, factoring, and commodity trade finance.
The client used the results to obtain an in-depth view of client satisfaction with the bank’s trade services and to focus on the needs of individual client segments. The study enabled the bank to adjust the type of support required by clients executing different kinds of trade transactions. These insights allowed it to fine-tune its resource allocation and provide targeted training to customer service representatives.
5. Case Study in Marketing Segmentation and Sizing
We conducted a market sizing and segmentation study among officials at 431 local government entities throughout the United States. The interviews were conducted by telephone and required 35 minutes, on average, to complete. Respondents were screened at the beginning of the interview to identify the person with the main responsibility for the management of the school district or municipality’s short and long-term investments, and for purchasing goods and services for that local government unit.
The sample of 221 school districts was drawn from an enumeration provided on-line by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, while the sample of counties and other municipalities was drawn from the Municipal/County Directory. School districts with annual budgets of less than $5 million and municipalities with populations of less than 5,000 were screened out of the sample on the grounds that these entities were too small to be of interest.
The principal objectives of this study were to size the local government market, evaluate the competitive frame, assess the relative attractiveness of the school district vs. municipal government markets, segment each of the two markets by size, i.e., buying power, and identify the services, such as underwriting, financial advisory services, cash management, investment management, electronic commerce, equipment financing or leasing, etc., that would be most attractive to local markets.
We achieved success in this study by paying especially close attention to the largest urban school districts and municipalities, which account for an extremely disproportionate percentage of all local government expenditures. Only our very best interviewers were assigned to this critical segment. In addition, when they found that purchasing authority and decision-making were typically dispersed among up to four or five officials at the largest local government entities, our interviewers networked from one official to another and interviewed each one about the relevant subject matter.
Accurate projection of the sample estimates to the entire population of all U.S. local governments, which were often expressed in dollar volumes, was essential to the success of this study. We were able to validate the accuracy of the projections by computing average dollar figures from our survey, such as the school district’s annual budget, multiplying by the number of districts in the entire country, and comparing the results to the (sum of the) annual budgets for all 15,000 or so school districts, which must be reported to the Department of Education by federal mandate and are publicly available on the Internet. Our estimates were virtually identical to the budget figures reported to the federal government, which validated other survey results for which we had no comparable benchmark.
School districts and municipalities with large annual budgets were deliberately oversampled to stabilize our estimates of market size, which are especially sensitive to the (sub)estimates obtained from the largest units. To correct for the oversampling, the final data were statistically weighted to insure that all respondents were represented in their correct proportions in the sample according to key variables (region and a measure of size, either annual budget for school districts or number of inhabitants for municipalities).
6. Case Study in Climate Change and Weather Risk
We conducted a national benchmark study of 205 senior executives at North American corporations. The primary objective was to understand, benchmark, and share corporate best practices in weather risk management.
The survey was conducted in early 2008, based on telephone interviews with CFOs, CEOs, corporate treasurers and risk managers at middle market and Fortune 1,000 companies in weather-sensitive industries across the U.S. and Canada. The primary industry sectors covered by the survey included energy, agriculture, retail, construction, and outdoor entertainment. The study found that a decisive majority of senior finance and risk managers recognize that their businesses are impacted by the weather; and they are concerned that the emergence of global climate change and accompanying volatile weather patterns will require changes to their business models in the decades ahead. But it is still early days for the weather risk market, and most companies are only just beginning to discern their approach to managing weather risk for improved performance.
The study findings were quite clear on one point: senior corporate executives in general are concerned about the impact of global climate change and day-to-day volatility on their businesses.