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An FMCG marketer benchmarks customer perception of its brand vis-a-vis that of its competitors

Summary

A soft-drinks marketer wishes to understand customer perceptions of a new product, relative to existing products and competing brands. Customer surveys provide data on consumer likes & dislikes along various product specifications, such as sweetness, color, flavour, calorie content, packaging, pricing, etc. Multi-dimensional scaling techniques are used to reduce the respondent scores along each of these product specifications into a reduced number of dimensions that reflect the unique product attributes. The resulting perceptual map enables the soft-drinks marketer to understand the relative strengths & weakness of its new product vis-à-vis old products as well as competing brands. This allows the marketer to tweak product features to generate greater attraction for its new product, apart from identifying gaps in the product landscape that indicate the opportunity to design further new high-potential products to satisfy customer desires.

Business Backdrop

A soft-drinks marketer has a number of products in the market that compete with products of competitors. The marketer has recently launched a new soft drink and wishes to understand customer perceptions of the newly-launched product vis-à-vis its own existing products as well as the products of competitor brands.

Customer perceptions of consumer products are aligned to the various attributes of the products. For products like soft drinks, such attributes are likely to be sweetness, energy content, product quality, affordability, availability, brand image, advertising, etc. Perceptions of different brands & products in the minds of the customers differ, depending on how customers rank/ score the performance of the product/ brand along these various attributes.

Understanding customer perceptions of its products is vital for consumer product marketers, as is benchmarking such perceptions vis-à-vis those of competitor brands/ products. Such perceptual mapping is key to marketers evaluating relative strengths & weaknesses of their products/ brands. In addition, perceptual maps often point to gaps in the product space, and thereby hold the key in driving new product design initiatives.

Analytical Approach

A customer survey is conducted to gauge consumer perceptions of the soft-drink marketer’s recently-launched product. The survey questionnaire is designed to capture data on customers’ feedback on the new product with regards to the various product specifications that reflect the different product attributes. The questionnaire captures responses on consumer likes/ dislikes of various specifications, such as degree of sweetness, color, flavour, product variants, product SKUs, price points, packaging types, availability in stores, calorie content, advertising, brand image, product quality, and many more.

Given the need to benchmark customer perceptions of the new product vis-à-vis that of existing products as well as competitor brands, the survey questionnaire asks for responses on similar questions with respect to existing products and competing brands. The market survey and the associated sampling scheme is designed to capture a wide range of consumers, across different age groups, income brackets, cities of residence, academic & professional backgrounds, etc.

Multi-dimensional scaling techniques are deployed to reduce the respondent scores on the various product specifications into a smaller number of dimensions, each of which reflects a particular unique product attribute. The resulting perceptual map exhibits the product positioning of the recently-launched product along with that for existing products and competing brands.

Solution Framework

  • Customer Surveys
  • Design of Experiments
  • Survey Analytics
  • Correspondence Analysis
  • Multi Dimensional Scaling
  • Perceptual Mapping

Business Benefits

Armed with the perceptual map for its recently-launched product, the soft-drinks marketer is able to accurately gauge the relative strengths & weaknesses of its new product vis-à-vis those of its existing products as well as competitor products/ brands. This enables the marketer to take both tactical as well as strategic decisions for its existing & future product portfolios. Tactical decisions like tweaking certain product features to generate higher scores on one or more product attributes serve to enhance customer perceptions along one or more dimensions. The perceptual map also detects certain gaps in the product landscape, which drives strategic decisions with regards to future product designs & launches.

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