Track market penetration

Based on Measuring Market Penetration with Brand Tracking (+ Metrics & Examples) by Tom Whatley

Business benefits

Identify market penetration opportunities and issues.

Choose a brand tracking platform to record and analyze your brand data.

Your main options are:

  • Outsource everything to a third-party research firm.
    This is the most affordable approach as it requires minimal resource investment. You’ll have to sacrifice flexibility, however, as you won’t have the same command over which data gets recorded and analyzed.
  • Build a custom brand tracking program.
    You have complete control over which questions are being asked, how audiences are segmented, and which brands are included in the study. But it can involve more upfront investment, both in resources as well as building a system for data collection and analysis.
  • A hybrid model.
    You can use a third-party research firm to establish baselines and to handle large-scale consumer panels. Complement this data with ongoing research such as in-app surveys, social media listening, and customer retention metrics.

Establish your goals and baseline metrics.

Are you looking to boost your reach and generate leads? Do you plan to rebrand, and subsequently need to know what’s resonating so you can double down? Or are you concerned more with customer retention and cross-sell opportunities?

Having more than one goal is fine, but make sure to note these down and draw clear dividing lines so you can ask appropriate questions and segment answers accordingly.

With clear goals established, determine which metrics to track and establish baseline measures.

Example

Take L.L. Bean, an outdoor goods retailer, as an example. Being a 100-year-old brand, L.L. Bean had been experiencing a long period of zero revenue growth. So, they set a goal to break the cycle.

They determined that targeting customer growth in the outdoor family enthusiast segment was the most appropriate goal, tying key metrics to that objective.

This allowed L.L. Bean to segment in-store survey responses, and analyze improvements in customer experience based on designated customer categories:

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Establish the scope of your brand tracking measures.

Advanced brand tracking studies can include inputs from digital advertising efforts, social listening tools, and other operational data. This may be overkill for some brands, so consider starting leaner with a more focused survey—at least to establish your baseline.

Qualtrics suggests a 3-stage model:

  • A short, lean survey that covers the basic information you need about your brand.
  • Add social media listening or other information that can help you to connect survey results to financial data.
  • Pull in data from other marketing efforts and segment your audience into target groups like loyal customers showing signs of discontent.

Test by target audience and target segments.

You may find, for example, that your messaging is resonating more powerfully with one segment than another, and thus it may be worth investing more resources into that segment.

Or, if the segment that you’re not resonating with is the one you want to grow the most, a marketing strategy that is differentiated by segment may be required. From there, you can track the impacts of subsequent marketing campaigns using your brand track.

Example

Holvi is a digital banking service for freelancers and small business owners. Their current marketing activities were falling flat, so they leveraged Latana’s Multilevel Regression and Poststratification (MRP) algorithm to track super-niche audience segments, using customer insights to fuel targeted brand campaigns.

This hyper-segmented brand tracking survey is empowering Holvi to drive brand recall and perception metrics, and better reach key stakeholders within their desired target audience.


If winning customers from the competition and growing your market share is a key goal, choose competitors to test against.

Tracking brand awareness and consideration, especially, against competitors can help you to find discrepancies that are causing issues.

Example

BMW rank number one for brand awareness in the luxury car segment in the US, but fall to third place when customers are surveyed for brand consideration.

Given that consideration and actual sales data are highly correlated in this vertical, it follows that if BMW can influence brand consideration, they can forecast a lift in future sales and possibly market share.

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BMW should survey and track associations for both their own brand, as well as key competitors, Jeep and Nissan, to understand what customers think about each brand and how this influences purchase decisions.


Pick data collection methods.

To collect brand tracking data, choose from these methods:

  • Custom consumer panels.
  • Generic consumer research surveys - not ideal, but you can still leverage some high-level data.
  • Online sentiment analysis, such as social listening platforms.
  • Survey-based brand trackers.

A survey-based approach will allow you to monitor and track key brand metrics regularly. It will also allow you to analyze trends over time, rather than static increases in quarterly increments, like consumer panel studies.


Run your tests and analyze the results.

Having collected all required relevant data, analyze the results to identify trends and customer perceptions. Also, compare key brand tracking metrics against the goals you’ve set.

  1. Separate data into qualitative and quantitative results.
  2. Compare quantitative results to goals, benchmarks, and competitors.
  3. Use qualitative data to explain why you’re ahead of or behind your goals or competitors.
  4. Analyze qualitative results and perform a gap analysis - what desired associations are missing from customer reports, and vice versa.
  5. Use these findings to inform changes to your brand strategy.

Rather than viewing results in a vacuum, analyze trends across time to gauge the effectiveness of your branding campaigns.

Example

Take global brand Headspace, a meditation and mindfulness app. By analyzing trends in brand awareness and comparing these to brand marketing efforts across regions, they found their efforts in Germany were proving more fruitful than those in France and Spain.

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They diverted more effort to lagging regions, which will help even the playing field.


Optimize and repeat your brand tracking studies quarterly, biannually, or annually.

Where other forms of marketing tests (such as A/B testing) can be done fairly rapidly, brand tracking studies require much more time to effectively analyze results, trends, and causes.

Short-term changes in brand awareness and perception are common. Mistakes, scandals and bad PR happen, and they can influence results drastically in the short term, as can positive events such as going viral. However, these changes are not statistically significant.

Think of brand tracking like stock investment. Pay attention to short-term changes, but be really interested in long-term growth or decline.

Use data from feedback you receive daily - like response to marketing initiatives, social media engagement, and A/B tests on messaging. But view this data from a big-picture perspective.