Case Study 4 Global Qualitative Tracking to Build Brand Equity and Affinity

Business Needs

A scientific organization sought to better serve its members and to expand awareness of its brand and services both inside and outside the US. A tracking study was established to initially identify reasons driving membership versus non-membership, to be followed by marketing and communication efforts to build membership and brand affinity. Subsequent tracking waves sought to measure the impact of these efforts among members and non-members of the organization in terms of awareness, perceptions, attitude and behavior.

The Study

Twenty focus groups were conducted among research scientists in 13 cities in the US, EU and Japan. Because we have conducted many hundreds of multi-country focus groups, we have established contacts in many parts of the world enabling us to ensure consistent quality across locations. We have longstanding relationships with native language moderators who have been personally trained by us. For each project, a member of our staff briefs the moderators and observes the groups. Using simultaneous translators, our staff member can ensure that the group is being conducted to meet the study objectives.


Generally speaking, quantitative tracking studies replicate questions and respondent composition from wave to wave in order to ensure consistency. However, the qualitative approach utilized in this study enabled us to broaden or narrow our focus in examining differences based on geography, age and scientific specialty. In addition, the most recent wave discovered new issues among scientists that were not evidenced in prior waves. Consequently, question areas were modified in subsequent groups to focus on these newly discovered issues.

In addition to the standard questions about the scientists' behavior and attitudes, we utilized our Motivation Research technique (a structured form of "laddering") in a focus group setting in this study to learn what scientists would like to see in their ideal organization. This technique was useful in identifying specific goals for the organization to result in bolstering membership and in meeting the specific needs of scientists both in the US and overseas.

The End Result

Trending questions demonstrated that marketing/communication efforts were effective in generating greater awareness for the organization in many regions. However, it was also clear that the quality of these efforts fell short in establishing a clear image of the organization and its mission within the scientific community. Utilizing the motivational technique results, we were able to make recommendations identifying the attributes that needed stressing to engender greater appreciation of the organization and lead to increased membership globally. Where needs and attitudes varied by locale, we were able to recommend a more tailored approach focusing on these regional differences. In addition, we advised the organization that, in order to be relevant to scientists, they need to be flexible in their focus, keeping up with the emerging issues as they develop.