Get Back on Track: Part I

Which Tracking Study Methodology is Best for You Now? Snapshot or Motion Picture?

By Angela Burtch, Vice President

4-Minute Read

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” — Benjamin Franklin

How much do you know about the market changes in the past 9 months and how, specifically, they have impacted your brand?  Gulp!  Or, perhaps hope is your strategy and, like many other companies, you’re waiting for the Covid-19 dust to settle before re-evaluating your brand. Whatever your strategy is, knowing how to track the changes in your brand as a result of this pandemic will be key. That is, should you employ a “Snapshot” or “Motion Picture” approach. Well, it depends. More on that later.

“Snapshot” vs “Motion Picture”

First, let’s discuss the difference between “Snapshot” (also known as pulse or point-in-time tracking studies) or “Motion Picture” (also known as continuous studies).  For most of our clients, a Snapshot approach is appropriate; this approach works best when advertising and messaging are changed infrequently. 

However, when the climate is changing rapidly and messaging needs to keep up, Motion Picture may be more advantageous. Some of our clients and industry colleagues are using this time to get a continuous pulse on what’s happening in the marketplace, including large tourism organizations opting to conduct Motion Picture tracking as a way to fine-tune their messaging based on people’s travel intentions over the period of the pandemic.

We believe that now is the time for either preparing for or launching some form of brand tracking research.  Let’s take a closer look at the two methodologies.

Snapshot: In this type of approach, interviewing is conducted at a specified time (often annually or biannually and sometimes even quarterly), with all interviews conducted in a very short period.  Analysis is conducted per “wave” to determine if there are any differences observed since the last time the study was conducted.

Motion Picture: In this type of continuous tracking, interviewing is conducted constantly with no significant breaks in the fielding schedule.  The total number of interviews is spread out over a long period of time, with a smaller number of interviews happening daily or weekly. The analysis can be “rolled up” for any time period and can then be tracked back to specific dates where some occurrence spiked the data either up or down.

In addition to tourism, this type of tracking may be appropriate for consumer electronics right now, such as home computing and parallel products (as an example).  This sector has experienced massive swings in demand among a growing target of virtual workers and schoolkids learning at home.  Brands in this space need to stay informed of their persona to continually monitor how they are being perceived among this growing vertical. Are they connecting with the target?

While tracking brand equity metrics and advertising is always important, it’s especially important now for companies to understand where the needle is moving and how to move it, even in an environment with widespread advertising disruption (either increased or decreased). 

In addition, any of the normative information you have captured and curated prior to the pandemic may be useless now, and a new benchmark could be warranted. The recommended tracking methodology depends on how frequently your message is changing. Even if your brand may not be doing anything differently, your competitors’ brands may be doing so.  Anything done by competitors has the potential to impact your brand.

Stay tuned for our next blog where we’ll discuss in more detail instances where each type of tracker is best suited during Covid-19.

At Merrill Research we can help you refine your existing trackers or help you design a tracking methodology that meets your current challenges. As Ben says, an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.