What Are Brand Awareness Studies and How to Do Them

Brand awareness studies are a relatively quick way to check on your brand’s position with consumers in relation to your competition. Done right, these important questions allow you to adapt your marketing strategy to changing market conditions quickly and accurately.

To run a successful brand awareness study you need to be sure you’re making the right measurements, performing the studies in the most cost-effective way possible, and making adjustments to your study as time goes on.

Four Vital Measurements in a Brand Awareness Study

Each brand faces unique challenges that they will need to address in their brand awareness studies — new competition or a product recall, for example — but addressing these four pieces will give you an accurate picture of how your brand stands.

  1. General Brand Awareness

This is often tracked through measures of brand recall and recognition. A brand that is easily recalled in certain situations is more likely to be considered for purchase than one that is only recognized when the consumer is prompted.

  1. Brand Usage

This can be measured through recency (how recently a consumer engaged with your product), frequency of usage, and total spending in the brand and product categories. These brand tracking measures reveal insights about consumer shopping behavior and preferences. They are also indicators of market share and share of wallet.

  1. Brand Attitudes and Perceptions

These are usually captured through questions related to brand image and associations that consumers develop based on their experience with the brand and exposure to its message through PR, advertising, and promotional programs.

Brand associations include beliefs about product- and non-product related attributes and benefits, as well as perceptions related to price and value.

Some brand associations are stronger than others, are more easily recalled, and are appealing enough that they become a driver in a consumer’s decision to buy a brand.

  1. Purchase Intent

Measures of likelihood to buy a brand or switch to a competitor are also indicators of brand health that should be part of brand awareness studies. These questions should be asked in the context of a specific product or brand, reason for the purchase, time, channel, price, and other relevant factors in the purchasing decision.

Without these elements the questions cannot be predictive of actual purchase behavior.

Save Money By Only Tracking Brand Awareness When You Need To

Brand awareness studies usually involve collecting quantitative data (e.g. number of purchases, total amount spent, etc.) from consumers on a regular basis. One way to do this is to continuously collect information.

While this provides a more representative picture of how the brand stands and allows us to control for unusual marketing activities, it’s also very expensive and time consuming.

Fortunately, tracking at specific time intervals (e.g. monthly, quarterly, annually) can be equally effective while saving your valuable budget.

When determining the frequency at which you should collect data for brand tracking, consider these factors:

  • Frequency of product purchase. Long purchase cycles can be tracked less frequently.
  • Marketing activity in the product category. Product categories with a lot of marketing activity should be monitored more often.
  • Level of competition. Highly competitive categories in which new products and competitors are constantly trying to break in should be tracked as frequently as possible.
  • Stability of brand associations. Brand with an established image that doesn’t change much over time can be tracked less often.

When to Revise and What to Track 

Although for comparison purposes brand tracking measures tend to stay the same over time, they should be revised from time to time to assess their reliability and sensibility.

These regular reviews ensure that they don’t become unable to capture important shifts in the market due to changes in sociodemographic trends, competitive landscape, and economic macro trends.

Another issue with brand awareness measurements is defining what constitutes the desirable level of specific metrics.

Is a 70% level of awareness good enough? It depends on the product category and the competitive environment.

In low-involvement product categories and those with many competitors, it may be difficult to get very high levels of awareness and strong brand associations, so “good” levels for any metric differ across industries and product categories.

Finally, each brand awareness study should be customized to capture the brand associations that contribute the most to brand equity and the marketing activities supporting the brand. The goal is to identify key drivers that make a difference on consumers’ brand choice and purchase behavior and develop marketing tactics that lead to brand growth.


By tracking the right elements, managing the frequency with which you perform studies, and making adjustments to your tracking over time, you’ll be able to use brand awareness studies to steer your marketing effectively.

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Andrea Fryrear
About the Author:

Andrea Fryrear

Andrea loves to dissect marketing buzzwords and fads looking for the pearls of wisdom at their cores. Her favorite topic is agile marketing, which she believes holds the key to a more fulfilling (and less stressful) marketing career for individuals and a more powerful marketing department for business. When not scrutinizing the latest agile methodologies, Andrea can be found on the volleyball court, at the park with her two delightful kids, or baking “calorie-free” cookies. Connect with her on Twitter @AndreaFryrear, or on LinkedIn.

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