What is the market mix problem that I keep talking about that has stayed unsolved for so many years. The problem by itself is simple: How much does my brand sell for different marketing inputs? A regression model needs historical data of at least three years. Most companies either do not have that much data, or the markets have changed in three years and hence the data is pretty much useless. In addition, regression models cannot accommodate changes in product formulation or advertising campaign changes. Further, economic data like GDP, CPI and inflation can never be built into the regression model. Hence all statistical modeling leads you up a cul-de-sac.
So what did I do that was so different? I went back to market research data. Almost all companies do advertising or brand tracking. The sample sizes in these tracks vary from 800 to 4000, every month. The tracks capture primarily the exposure to media, awareness of advertising and the brands, brand imagery and Intention to buy. They set up benchmarks against each parameter and take marketing decisions. For example: if the claimed exposure to TV in April is 30% and it was 40% in March, they call the advertising agency and ask them to change the channels. If the imagery is not improving then they will change the advertising. These decisions are ad hoc, because they have no clue on how each of these decisions will affect a priori. The marketing guy’s knowledge is always from hindsight. So, what we did was to pick up the brand track data with 800 or 4000 respondents and modeled it. The basic modules were:
- Exposure to Awareness Model
- Awareness to Image Model
- Image to Intention to buy Model
- Intention to buy to actual sales model
With this approach we had solved one two problems: The requirement of long history of the brand’s performance and the irrelevance of historical data to the current scenario. We could take the brand track data from April and model it for May. Nothing can be more recent than this.
Now came the tricky part. How does one link media and other marketing inputs. This was done through a heuristic algorithm. Each respondent in the track was assigned a value for each marketing input. Now we had a file with track and inputs in each record. After this it was easy to integrate all other data. Once we had all the data together the independent modules were built using ANN and a dash-board was designed to make life easy for the user.
What were the results? Based on each month’s inputs we estimated the sales. What we could deliver was 85-95% accuracy of forecasts compared to the company’s sales-out figures. This far exceeded the original mandate to deliver a solution that gave 75% accuracy.
How does this help the brand managers? Here is a list.
- Understanding of the brand characteristics using the tabulator cuts down the time of extracting information from different sources by 80%.
- Simulate the brand response to variations in brand inputs to get the optimum response.
- If there is a competition activity in the market it is possible to check what investments should they make to reduce the effect of these activities on their own brand.
- Use the simulator during brand and advertising reviews.
Our Brand Modeling solution is a huge help in effective planning of a brand to meet the targets. With our unique Brand Modeling Solution a 30-year-old problem that brand marketers have been grappling with was put to rest. We have a successful solution.
Dr. Cooram Ramacharlu Sridhar (Doc)