Insights from tracker studies can, among other things, help marketers and researchers better understand businesses in a competitive environment, or help formulate appropriate reactions to events that may have an impact on a brand. Running a long-term study can help you to more accurately measure demographic, geographic, behavioral, psychographic and attitudinal changes across markets and across time.
Trackers can represent a significant investment in time and money, so it makes sense to allow for some serious planning before launching the first wave, especially if you want to minimize unforeseen changes post-launch. Make sure to document the answers to fundamental questions like:
- Why are we doing this project?
- What data do we need to answer our overall business question?
- How will the data be used, and what action will be taken once we have it?
- Who will predominately benefit from the knowledge gained?
- How will we assess the ROI of the tracker study?
- What items are likely to change in the tracker’s lifetime?
Since trackers are used to measure change over time, the goal is to change nothing about the study itself once it has launched, so that any changes to the data can be attributed to real market shifts. This may come as a surprise, but there comes a time for most tracker studies when something must change. Perhaps business goals have shifted; you need to test new brands or ad campaigns; there is a need to adjust the sample source or incorporate mobile survey-takers for example. Change may also be needed because stakeholders are simply not seeing the value they once did in the data.
Once you are in the middle of a tracker, you may be uncertain how to navigate around these “necessary changes.” Fear not! A parallel study is usually required to isolate and understand the impact of the change, but with a clear test plan and having obtained buy-in from stakeholders, changes can almost always be implemented successfully without interruption to fielding.
What if a tracker becomes stale, no longer delivering insights or much value to the business? With an array of new research techniques, it’s possible to reinvigorate a tracker without changing the questionnaire itself:
- Consider incorporating techniques that better engage respondents, such as video or audio, which will naturally encourage people to provide deeper, more candid, richer data
- Review the screener section of the questionnaire to make certain you’re still reaching the desired population as consumer habits, your market, the economy and demographics, evolve and change
- Integrate additional data to enhance results. A vast amount of additional data about purchase patterns, lifestyles, and beliefs is available to enrich the data being collected in the questionnaire and bring latent themes into focus.
Looking for guidance as you plan your next tracker?
Find out how best to minimize unforeseen changes and extend the lifetime impact of your long-term study by watching our on-demand webinar.