Marketing research for the Communication Strategy

Marketing research for the communication strategy

The communication strategy governs all of a brand’s communication activities.

There are two parts:

    • Copy strategy. The Copy defines what motivates customers to prefer your brand over a competitor’s brand.
    • Media strategy. This determines how to bring the copy to the customer.

This post discusses marketing research studies for the Copy Strategy. We’ll discuss the Media strategy in a separate post.

The copy strategy consists of three elements:

    • Benefit. The rationale for the customer to prefer our brand. For instance, detergents removing spots vs. washing whiter.
    • Reason why. Aka Support to the promise or Reason why, this is the element that gives credibility to the brand benefit. For instance, it could be a new formulation or a magic ingredient.
    • Brand character. Aka Tone or Tonality, this helps customers create a subjective image of a brand. For instance, modern vs. traditional.


Marketing research studies for the Copy Strategy

These are the important marketing research studies commonly used to create the elements of the Copy Strategy:

    • Concept Test. Validity of an idea, slogan, product concept, etc.
    • Copy test. To identify the preferred advertisement by a sample of the target population the ad speaks to.
    • Comprehension & Reaction Study. Comprehension of and reaction to one or more messages.
    • Overall Related Recall Test. Memorization of a message.

These other marketing research studies are often used to evaluate the effectiveness of communication messages and materials:

    • Day After Recall Test. Recognition and memorization of ads within 24 hours from airing.
    • Sensation Transfer Study. Of a testimonial, packaging, selling idea, and other characterizing element.
    • Brand Image Test. Investigates the brand image compared to the ideal brand.
    • A/B Test. Measures the performance of two or more variations of the same message or concept.
    • Eye Tracking Test – Analysis of visual behavior, e.g. with ads, websites, etc.

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Example of a real Copy Strategy created with marketing research

Pampers is the leading baby diaper brand. In their Baby Discovery Center near Cincinnati every year they run hundreds of tests to find out what is meaningful to parents and babies about diapers. This led to the introduction of Pampers Baby Wipes (PBW), P&G’s wet tissues used to cleanse babies (primarily when changing the diaper).

In order of importance, moms answered marketing research studies on their expectations about baby wipes with:

    1. Friendly to the baby’s skin
    2. Smooth and tender
    3. Cleaning power
    4. Easy to use
    5. Price

At launch time, in 1994, the copy strategy of PBW read:

    • Benefit: PBW cleanse baby’s skin more gently than traditional thin wet wipes.
    • Reason why: PBW are softer than traditional thin wipes because they are three times thicker.
    • Brand character: Pampers is a trusted and caring expert in baby care who knows how to satisfy baby’s needs and helps in creating a loving and caring relationship between mother and baby.

Disarmingly simple, isn’t it?

But how did P&G get to formulate it? Applying common sense and running lots of marketing research studies. Behind this Copy Strategy, there is an impressive wealth of marketing science and millions of dollars invested in marketing research, facts, data, and evidence useful to reduce the risk of brand failure.

Brand communication is too important and expensive to rely on one’s gut. To find out what’s really relevant, ask the customer. But don’t expect them to tell you what they want. Ask instead whether they like the solution you found to their problem, and marketing research is the tool of choice.



      • Not all products can offer a benefit. Biscuits, fragrances, yogurts, alcoholic beverages, coffee, cigars, mattresses, socks, and so on, may be difficult to differentiate from competing brands based on the benefit they offer. In these cases, the Copy Strategy can exploit its other two elements: Reason why and Brand character.


    • Brands without benefit and without reason why can still differentiate using the brand character. The character isn’t directly linked to the brand, and it stems out of focus-groups and the creativity, for instance, of an ad person. Its main job is to favor the setup of the brand personality, a key element to help in differentiating brands from competitors. A good example is that of the mens’ fragrances Hugo Boss, which became a case study in strategic management when P&G made them a worldwide success by creating a product that got the preference of the chosen customers. There isn’t a brand without character. Brands communicating for a long time take on a connotation in the eyes of customers. Therefore, it is preferable to orientate that perception, trying to create an agreeable personality, rather than letting the market do it on your behalf.

Published by Global Analytics Systems

at Global Analytics Systems