Case study: How MBM uses brand tracking to help clients become category leaders

January 31st, 2023

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Elly Strang
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Tracksuit partner MBM is a strategic media agency that is an expert in helping brands plan their online and offline marketing more effectively.

The world of marketing can be complex for brands to navigate, which is where an agency partner becomes a gamechanger to help businesses grow their brands. 

MBM agency was founded in 2010 and has since become a part of Publicis Group in 2019. It counts some of New Zealand’s most loved and trusted brands as clients, including Whittaker’s, Pic's Peanut Butter, Sharesies, Trade Me and TipTop.

As a partner of Tracksuit, MBM recognizes the importance of data-driven marketing decisions and investment in brand translating into long-term and sustainable business growth. Its clients Pic’s Peanut Butter, Whittaker’s, Animals Like Us, VTNZ and LifeDirect all have access to the Tracksuit platform to track the performance of their brands across the full marketing funnel. 

“Brand tracking through Tracksuit has added rigor and measurement to our media strategies and recommendations, no matter the size of the brand,” MBM strategist Loren Smith says. 

“This has been useful as an agency partner not only to understand media effectiveness, but also as a tool for our clients to showcase brand performance for stakeholders outside of sales or acquisition metrics.”

What gets measured, gets managed 📏

Small to medium brands often see market research as out of reach of their budget, seeing as traditional brand tracking is a $100K+ expense. 

Loren says, previously challenger brands often had to rely on rudimentary metrics like social media sentiment to understand brand health. However, this presents a limiting picture rather than telling the full story.  

Tracksuit’s affordability opens up brand tracking to challenger brands and allows MBM to make its post-campaign analysis and competitor reports more robust as an agency partner. 

“For brands who are running longer term campaigns or always on material, we can also start to bring in brand health KPIs to briefs and media objectives”, Loren says. 

“This helps both us as the agency partner and clients get really clear on what dials we are trying to turn with our media and look to longer term impact rather than focusing on short-term sales and performance media metrics.” 

Loren says Tracksuit’s brand tracking is effective at understanding how not only consumers feel about your own brand, but also the health of competitors, outside of channel and spend data.  

“Through bespoke competitor tracking, we can monitor key competitor brand health. If these have grown or changed exponentially over the past 6 to 12 months, we can then overlay our historical competitor tracking methods of spend and channel data, to piece together what their media approach might be.

Spotlight on Pic’s Peanut Butter 🔎 

Pic’s Peanut Butter is one of MBM’s clients that is using Tracksuit to track the performance of its brand in the nut butter category. 

Tracksuit data shows that in New Zealand, Pic’s is winning in every brand statement against competitors, including ‘Is the brand I love the most’, ‘Is worth paying more for’, ‘Tastes the best’ statements from November to January. 

Pic’s is also an incredibly strong performer across the marketing funnel. It has 60% awareness in the nut butter category, or ~1.4 million Kiwis who are aware of the brand, and ~624,000 Kiwis prefer it over any other nut butter. This is the hardest metric for brands to win on.

There is also strong association with Pic’s and the words ‘NZ made’ and ‘Nelson’, showing great recall on the peanut butter being produced locally in New Zealand. 

Loren says Pic’s went out with their first brand-focused campaign in 2022, which was promoted across Online video, OOH, social and radio. 

“The intention was to highlight what makes Pic’s, Pic’s, and to increase love for the brand. Prior to using Tracksuit, we believed the demographic we would achieve the greatest gains in brand love would be with our core audience of household shoppers aged 25+, as they were our most vocal audience in social,” Loren says.  

“While there was a clear lift for people aged 25+ in ‘brands I love most’, the greatest growth was actually in audiences 18 to 24 and with males. This has given us real insight into who the campaign resonated with the most, and so we made sure we are actively including them in our media mix for brand campaign evolution in 2023.”

How brand tracking creates clarity in the agency and brand relationship 🤝

In the past, it’s been difficult for businesses to unite different stakeholders around the value of brand and measure the long-term impact of marketing campaigns.

Brand tracking provides a clear and consistent way for marketers, company stakeholders and agencies to understand and communicate the value of brand marketing. 

“With both agency and client partners having access to the Tracksuit platform and team, it gives us a common language and narrative between media and marketing to discuss the brand,” Loren says. 

It also helps businesses make strategic decisions around where to place their spend and what messages to bring through in their communications. 

“The main thing would be getting clients to see the market outside of their brand bubble and understand there are some pretty big jobs to do if they are to become a leader in their category.”

Loren says this happened with an MBM client who believed their point of difference was being New Zealand owned and thought this was a message that was landing in their brand communications. 

“Through the Tracksuit Imagery tab, we could see this wasn’t a message that was being picked up by the consumer. As we knew this was a proof point we wanted to nail with the audience, we decided to pivot comms to focus on this and add it to the statement tracker. Over time we have been able to see the Kiwi owned proof point grow in brand statements, proving that our focus is working and driving a strong ROI outside of sales.” 

Advice for brands navigating the media landscape in 2023 🏃

The year ahead will be an interesting challenge for marketers. On one hand, the media landscape is becoming increasingly fragmented, with multiple channels competing for marketing spend from brands. On the other, the purse strings of consumers are tightening due to the current economic downturn.

Loren says marketers should focus on the strength of their brand when navigating the cost-of-living crisis. 

“This is not only for brands to ‘prove their worth’ when consumers are more conscious of spending, but also because fewer people are visiting physical stores, meaning there is a reduction in equity support with less people seeing logos on shelves and store fronts. The online ‘shelf’ is infinite, making it harder for brands to stand out, having high brand equity will help combat this,” she says. 

Some trends she expects to see progress over the next year in marketing are AI (hello, ChatGPT) and convergent commerce (the blending of physical and digital environments). 

“We expect in the coming year that development in AI and machine learning will continue to personalize marketing efforts. Additionally, the rise of convergent commerce and the increasing use of mobile retail platforms are likely to continue to shape the way businesses market themselves.”

Overall, she recommends that businesses look inwards and focus on what makes consumers love and choose their brand in their marketing. Here are Loren’s other top takeaways 👇

A strategist’s top 3 tips for brands in 2023 

1. Resist the promotional spiral of doom – value exchange outweighs cost.

If you can provide something in return for purchasing a product or brand loyalty, consumers will post rationalize the cost of the product, even if times are tough.

A value exchange can be through a high functioning product, associated status with a premium product, entertaining content, personalisation, simplification of purchase/admin resulting in time back for the consumer – the list goes on.

No recession lasts forever. Those who focus on brand equity over price promotions will be in a stronger position when the market balances out.

2. Be mindful of how small trends ‘bubble-up’ to create meaningful engagement at scale – understanding the impact culture has on commerce.

Consumer passion-points are the bridge between brands and business. By looking to audience interest based targeting, content creation and leaning into community first culture, brands rethinking the ‘trickle down’ effect of trends from the mainstream and looking to those which start in niche communities.

For brands that can find authentic ways to connect with these communities, they can ride the wave of culture into mass. As summarized by The Culture Group Malaysia (2022), culture shapes content, creating communities, engaging conversations, that ultimately influence commerce.

3. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water – ‘traditional’ media is far from dead.

While we do suggest looking at what is happening in the niche audiences, channels, platforms and cultural zeitgeist to stay relevant, you still need reach and impact.

Cost effective, high reaching driving channels, such as linear TV and OOH, still have their place in the media mix. The future of media is not about TOFU/BOFU (top of the funnel/bottom of the funnel), it is about diversification and finding balance between impact and action channels.

Find out more about how our friends at MBM are helping marketing teams by visiting their website.

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