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6 Billion Rows of Data to Highlight How to Build Brands

What does it take to build a sustainable brand today, and what role does media play in that goal? Amid a challenging consumer product landscape and a fragmenting media environment, it’s never been more critical that brands know exactly which media levers to pull and which audiences they should target.

For many brands, media planning comes down to a single, long-standing question: Should we target existing buyers to increase loyalty and maintain market share, or should we grow our base by targeting light or non-brand buyers?

But is it really so cut and dry? That’s precisely the question that a team of researchers from Nielsen, Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS) and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute are seeking to discover as they begin to dig through three-and-a-half years of sales data from 50 brands. In total, the teams will be analyzing more than 6 billion rows of data from 10 U.S. consumer product companies, each of which contributed five brands to the study. Each brand falls into one of the following categories:

  • New successful brand
  • New failed brand
  • Stable brand
  • Growing brand
  • Declining brand

To whet the appetites of the media companies and brands that contributed to the study, NCS and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute recently held a kickoff event to detail the breadth of the study and discuss some of the areas the teams will be exploring in the data, with the goal of providing brands with better targetIng tools.

In looking at how consumer product companies target buyers, Leslie Wood, chief research officer at NCS, says she sees many brands targeting decent amounts of their media spend on non-brand buyers. In addition to being curious about the possible payoff of this approach, Wood says she believed at the start of the project that there’s likely a more nuanced approach that brands can take rather than one that’s so black and white.

“In the advertising industry, there’s more data available than there’s ever been before,” she says. “Brands have a greater ability to deliver messages to specific audiences, but we haven’t had the tools to understand the implications of targeting decisions. This study will put the pieces together and deliver insights on how media and creative decisions contribute to brand growth over time.”

After the recent event, Leslie and Rachel Kennedy, associate director at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, gave us some insight into the project and their initial thoughts on the data thus far.