Brand Strategy Marketing

What 6.5bn data points revealed about how brands grow

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By Jane Ostler, Lead author, Blueprint for Brand Growth

May 23, 2024 | 4 min read

Kantar’s Jane Ostler explains how analysis of billions of attitudinal and shopper data points from the last decade has uncovered three ‘growth accelerators’ pivotal to brands’ fortunes.

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Whether planning for a cookieless future, pondering the role of AI, or adapting to a challenging economic environment, uncertainty is the only certainty for marketing leaders. But whatever upheaval they face, the fundamental question that every CMO consistently wants to answer is “How do I deliver maximum impact for my brand and my business?” Ever-more advanced analytics is opening up a new avenue to informing the decisions that maximize brand growth.

To evolve and improve the advice we give our clients (98 of the world’s 100 biggest advertisers partner with Kantar) and, quite honestly, unify our own thinking on how brands grow, we undertook a year-long research project, analyzing more than 6.5bn attitudinal and shopper data points from the past decade. This project – unprecedented in Kantar’s history for its scale and ambition – is the evidence base for our Blueprint for Brand Growth, a new quantitative decision-making framework that Kantar launched this month.

So, what did we learn from locking our smartest people in a hotel for a week (the marketing equivalent of the Hunger Games) and crunching data?

We were able to quantify that brand perception strongly correlates with greater market penetration – the share of category shoppers choosing a brand, over time. Our Meaningful, Different and Salient (MDS) framework, accredited by the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB), asserts that difference – not just distinctiveness – is crucial in forging strong mental connections between consumers and brands. Our new analysis finds that brands that are meaningfully different to more people command up to five times the market penetration compared with brands that are low in meaningful difference. Further, brands with high Meaningful Difference are so attractive that they can command up to 2X the average category price point. So, achieving meaningful differentiation is vital to defending margin.

The Blueprint builds on and enhances existing research on how brands grow. Our new evidence illustrates that while market penetration growth is necessary, it is insufficient to drive sustainable brand and revenue growth holistically. Our analysis uncovered three Growth Accelerators which are the core of putting these principles into action. These will likely feel familiar to marketers everywhere, but now are underpinned with quantifiable evidence of their impact on brand and revenue growth:

1. Predispose more people

Increase the probability of purchase by strengthening the predisposition everyone has towards your brand. When optimally executed, this drives nine times higher volume share, two times higher average selling price, and four times the likelihood of growing share in the future.

2. Be more present

Optimize marketing investments to convert consumer predisposition and capture choices from other brands. Brands with strong equity that also activate well grow at 2.5x the rate of those with weaker activation.

3. Find new spaces

Find the most incremental spaces to stretch into through meaningfully different innovation, expanded distribution, and communications. A brand’s chance of growth doubles if it can find new moments or contexts for its range.

So what? How are these new quantified rules of marketing helpful for marketers? As well as an evidence base for how brands grow, the new Blueprint offers practical decision-making frameworks for how marketers should invest for maximum impact.

While these new Growth Accelerators are universal, each brand will need to understand its own positioning within each and use the decision-making frameworks to devise the strategic response that makes sense for its brand and its category. The Blueprint can help marketers prioritize the role of innovation, creative and media strategy and retail optimization to drive growth profitably.

Jane Ostler is lead author, Blueprint for Brand Growth at Kantar

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