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Issue Date: January 2005

Research in advertising

January 2005
Dean Herrick

In 1991, an existing client insisted on the use of research, not only to establish an industry survey on consumer brand awareness, product usage plus other product related data, but also to gauge the effectiveness of our advertising campaign at the time. This research is now in its twelfth year and is an extremely effective information tool that has not only exposed the incredible growth of our client's brand but thankfully our continued correct advertising direction.

The research industry is reported to be worth R1 billion in South Africa and personally I believe that with a country of so many diverse cultures, languages, perspectives, feelings and needs, South African industries must learn to understand their customers beyond the internal instinct and knowledge gleaned from years of being in business. The more we as advertising agents know, the better we can communicate with consumers and therefore have a more satisfied and trusting client base.
When considering a research programme, the results, or parts thereof, should eventually support a brief to an advertising company, making their understanding of your need so much easier and will more than likely, speed the process up towards developing a meaningful campaign.
If one is unsure about your advertising company's creative direction, then pre-testing is essential to gauge advertising effectiveness. This may upset the advertising flow and irritate certain creative people, who themselves are not the target market - how can a creative person that lives in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, know what life is like in the bulk of where most South Africans live, eat and sleep?
When we launched Greyhound Citiliner back in 1990, the management in place at that stage, made client service and the creative team travel repeatedly on their luxury coaches, ensuring a total understanding of the experience and those consumers that used the service. Similarly, to be on site and witness the installation of a building related product, can also 'cement' relationships with a client and broaden the knowledge base of all concerned within the agency.
Post testing, whether it be on the advertising or consumer response, will naturally establish success and failures and will give both the agency and the client much-needed information on future campaigns and communication plans and strategies.
Whether it be qualitative (soft facts) or quantitative (hard statistical facts) research, brief a professional research team, let them identify the best method for your project, giving a sound substantiation for their costs, timing (critical in any research programme) and hopefully an extremely good set of actions that must result from your investment.
Research, as with any professional service, costs, and can represent an important slice of any client's budget - so therefore must be put to good use, whether it be utilised for advertising purposes or not and the investment should be repeated annual or bi-annually to measure and ensure correct brand and product growth, controls and market building.

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