April 19, 2016
This month’s meeting featured Carla Flamer, President of Ipsos Marketing Canada, who spoke about branding in commodity or generic markets. She began by saying that there has been a lot of research done recently on how people choose brands and the brain processes that factor into that selection. Carla used the term “behavioural economics”, explaining that our brains are primed to maximize good outcomes, or at least minimize bad outcomes to avoid poor outcomes. When we make a decision, there are two brain processes at work: system 1 and system 2. System 2 is the one that is thoughtful, reflective and rational, while system 1 is more intuitive, unconscious and reflexive. She said that our brain uses both systems in a way to create decision “shortcuts”. In order to influence system 1, a brand needs to be in someone’s mind or consideration set; for example, a brand logo. The logo is a brand symbol in one’s head, and when this is combined with some kind of stimulus at the moment of choice, a decision is made
She continued, explaining that brands stand for something, such as physical and social context. In terms of social norms that influence choices, she provided the example of gas stations. All gas stations obtain their gas from the same suppliers, but gas stations still brand themselves. Why? Because branding instantly gives credibility to anything, even gas, and it can mean different things to different people.
So how is brand choice measured? Carla explained that Ipsos measures brand choice by attitudinal equity, which is a consumer’s desire for the brand. In other words, how does the brand meet the consumer’s needs and how close does the consumer feel to that brand? In order to be successful, a brand needs to be top-of-mind and salient with the consumer. Market effects are another measure, which reflect a consumer’s ability to obtain a brand. Therefore, the equation for brand choice is: attitudinal equity + market effects = total equity, which correlates to market share. She also clarified the difference between brand ranking and rating. If, in market research, a brand is rated 9 out of 10 for an attribute, this means nothing if all the other brands are also rated 9 out of 10 for the same attribute. A brand must be ranked first in order to be chosen.
Carla continued, saying that brands needs to form relationships with consumers and, in order to do this, they must fulfill key motivational selection criteria that include both emotional and functional needs. She introduced the emotional framework called “censydiam” which stands for Centre for Systematic Diagnostics in Marketing. This framework is one used by Ipsos to help companies develop branding that connects emotionally with buyers. The framework is essentially a compass with 8 points that describes 8 basic human needs. The north-south axis is the “me” dimension, which is a continuum between desire for release and for control. The east-west axis is the “social dimension”, a continuum between standing out and fitting in. The east is more about “we” and the west is more about “me”.
This framework is used to identify the motivations and emotions associated with a brand and to determine growth. The first level of motivation is to talk to consumers about the functionality of a brand. The second is to address its social identify; in other words, how will using this brand reflect on the consumer. A brand also has to determine the “tone of voice” to use with consumers. Carla gave examples of industries where functional attributes drive choice; for example, in the paper category (e.g., towels, bathroom tissue, facial tissue). In this category, many products are considered equal, so differentiation must be emotionally driven. However, in general, with most brands, 58% of decisions are driven by functional considerations and 42% by emotions.
Carla concluded her presentation by providing a pharma example of brand funnelling. The research Ipsos conducted was designed to identify the market barriers influencing prescribing and the social context influencing physicians. The research showed that, for general practitioners (GPs), commitment and control were driving brand preference. GPs were influenced by emotional drivers that put them “in control” of a condition and allowed them to offer the best to their patients and protect them.
Her final take-away messages were:
The floor was then opened to questions, a summary of which follows:
Q: You talked about control and patient commitment. If you look at specialty areas, such as oncology, would it be the same?
Q: If there is a segment in the emotional framework where no brand is present, should a new brand seek these empty, white spaces?
Q: If someone wants to make a big change to their brand, if they want to “go big or go home”, what do we need to do to aspire to those big changes?
Q: Often when we conduct market research or advisory boards, we focus more on the brain system 2 that requires active reflection. Can you provide examples of ways to tap into system 1?
Q: Which sectors are more (or less) emotionally driven?
Q: There are pharma brands with limited competitors with restrictions on being used in a certain order, as dictated by health authorities. Does that change how you look at the model?
Q: Can you provide examples of brands that were successful in influencing the customer’s decision process?
Q: How can you create an emotional engagement with consumers (patients) if you’re not able to speak to them and tell them about your product?
Q: Do you have an example of a market/category/product in which you had to deal with different gatekeepers and how the message was adapted?
Q: Do you have an example of a successful brand that hasn’t followed the typical paradigm that was surprising? For example, Buckley’s cough syrup. Have you seen this done successfully in the healthcare market?