What is a Brand Positioning Study in Market Research?

Wondering how to position a brand for success? Brand positioning research assesses several useful metrics such as brand awareness, perception, word associations, and more.

Using data to fuel next steps with brand positioning strategy is powerful. Rather than making assumptions or continuing to do what has worked in the past, research allows marketing and advertising teams to better understand their market of interest.

A brand positioning study is similar to an image and awareness (I&A) or brand equity study. The difference is questions in a brand positioning study will be tailored and phrased for the needs of the brand.

Custom market research is powerful and leads to more effective marketing and advertising strategy. Want to learn how a brand positioning study is done? Learn what to measure and how to measure it below!

What is a Brand Positioning Study in Market Research?

Here's more on what to measure in a brand positioning study and how to measure it!

How to measure unaided awareness

One of the first questions in a brand positioning study should measure unaided awareness. This helps ensure survey respondents are not exposed to brand names before the question is asked. If a brand name is shown to survey respondents before this question is asked, the results will be biased and the data is deemed unusable.

Here's an example of how to phrase an unaided awareness question, "When thinking about [insert product or service type], what is the first that brand comes to mind?" The question is asked open-ended so respondents are able to type in a brand name.

The results to this question are coded, or the open-ended responses are grouped together, to measure the results.

How to measure aided awareness

After asking unaided awareness, the next question should be an aided awareness question. Unlike the unaided awareness question, aided awareness shows a list of brands survey respondents can select if they are aware of it.

Here's an example of how to phrase an aided awareness question, "Which of the following [insert product or service type] brand(s) are you aware of?" Again, several competitors would be listed as response choices including the sponsoring brand of the research. Typically, the response choices would also include an option for survey respondents to enter a brand not listed open-ended.

The results to this question are analyzed to understand which brands have high versus low awareness.

How to measure total awareness

By asking unaided and aided awareness, brands can calculate total awareness. The results of both questions are combined to understand how many survey respondents reported being aware of the brand and key competitors tested in the survey.

Of course, brands stated in the unaided awareness question will be selected in the aided awareness question as well. This means awareness figures will be overstated. To avoid this, analysts remove these duplicate survey responses, or those who state being aware of the brand in both the unaided and aided question, and count that as a single response.

How to measure perception

Awareness is only a small piece that helps brands understand what consumers think. Perception helps brands understand what consumers think about a brand on a positive to negative scale.

Here's an example of how to phrase a perception question, "Based on your knowledge, what is your perception of the following [insert product or service type] brands(s)?" Response options including positive, neutral, and negative would be shown for each of the brands selected in the aided awareness question.

To measure perception, the results for each brand are analyzed to understand the percent who rated it positive, neutral, and negative.

Analysts also calculate perception score, which puts all of the perception data for a brand into one score. Scores range from -100 (100% of respondents rated the brand negative) to +100 (100% of the respondents rated the brand positive).

Learn more about perception score and how to measure it!

How to identify drivers to perceptions

After survey respondents rate the brand on a positive, neutral, or negative, the next step is to understand why. A follow-up question should posed to respondents which asks them explain why they chose their rating.

Here's an example of how to phrase a perception follow-up question, "Please explain why you rated [insert brand] as [insert rating chosen]? This question is asked open-ended so respondents can type their response.

The results to this question are grouped together and summarized. This helps identify similarities and key themes from the responses.

How to identify word associations

Asking word associations helps brands understand what is top-of-mind when consumers think of the brand. These results may also point to positive perceptions or negative perceptions. Additionally, survey respondents may also point out specifics about the brand like it's location, logo, leadership, and more.

Here's an example of how to phrase a word association question, "When you see or hear [insert brand name] what is the first word or phrase that comes to mind?" Survey takers enter responses open-ended.

To measure the results to this question, the responses are typically grouped together and summarized to identify trends in the data. Also, another way to anlyze these responses is by creating a word cloud. The words and phrases used more frequently are larger. This gives brands a visual look at the responses to this question.

How to use demographic data

Brands typically target marketing and advertising strategies to specific types of individuals. This may include age groups, location of residence, or other traits.

The data gathered through demographic questions can be cross-tabbed to the results of other questions. This helps identify segments and themes among different types of audiences.

For example, awareness of a brand may be higher among women compared to men, and perception might be more positive among younger age groups and females. This helps brands identify target audiences of interest to base a marketing and advertising strategy on.

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