Getting consumer insight about the perception of a brand provides a vital look at whether marketing messages are resonating with the target audience.
Marketers may believe that brand popularity relates simply to how many products are sold but the study finds that there is more to it than sales figures and popularity is not easy to maintain according to research shown exclusively to Marketing Week . The drivers of popularity all contribute to brand value and help support “currency” with consumers. The research by agency Leo Burnett analyzed 5,000 responses to the popularity and brand attributes of 50 brands.

Superstars – such as Ben & Jerry’s – have high popularity and great momentum, while brands such as Green & Black’s Chocolate are deemed rising stars because, despite good momentum, they have low popularity scores.

Leo Burnett Group head of data insights Mike Treharne says: “We wanted to look deeper into what makes a brand popular, what creates that popularity, what gives momentum to that popularity and how brands can recover when popularity is waning. “Popular brands have a DNA which, if decoded, can be identified, replicated and accelerated.”

The study illustrates the journey towards brand popularity and identifies the following drivers for achieving superstar status:
• Affinity: Measured by customer responses such as trust, having an emotional connection, brand empathy and appreciation of quality
• Visibility: The notion that a brand is everywhere, both in physical distribution and mental recall of advertising
• Differentiation: Based on personality, such as whether a brand is fun, quirky, up to date and innovative
• Integrity: Whether honesty and transparency are associated with the brand, and
• Longevity: Long-established brands that adults may recall using in childhood.

“Consumers are picking up our brand messages, but not because we are saying it to them,” says Praveen Vijh, co-founder of Eat Natural. “The whole concept of Eat Natural is a statement in itself: it tells consumers that they are getting a product that is made as naturally as possible. There is honesty and trust built into that, which the research shows is a driver of popularity”

In contrast to Eat Natural’s marketing approach, traditional media remain important for the Heinz portfolio. Heinz which scores high for visibility, is a major investor in TV, radio and digital advertising. “TV and radio are a great way of engaging with our consumers, generating scale, awareness and emotional connection to the brand,” says Giles Jepson, vice-president of marketing for Heinz Europe. However, investment in digital technology is a “critical and growing channel”.

The leading drivers in the study were found to be affinity and visibility. But the full set of drivers must be juggled successfully if brands are to achieve, and maintain, superstar popularity.

With research provided by Marketing Week. June 11, 2014