At the heart of all successful businesses is a strong brand.
Creating a strong emotional connection is what helps a brand thrive. Helping brands strengthen that emotional connection is Populus’s mission.
Now more than ever, brands need help to tell their most compelling, honest and most successful stories, in order to forge those emotional connections.
Populus’s brand research unites founding principles of psychology and the most effective research techniques. The result is meaningful research that forges and cements the emotional tie between brand and customer.
Populus has the tools and understanding to help brands tell their most successful story. Whether it is through optimising communications, or positioning effectively against competitors, we use our experience and knowledge to craft approaches that enable brand teams to effectively manage their most important asset, their brand.
Director of Brand and Communications
Senior Research Executive
“One of my favourite campaigns of all time was by Audi. It delivered beautiful creative executions built around simple insight. As all great ads are. It is a brave client who sets up who they don’t want to be. It strongly positions the brand as a challenger while also reassuring those who already own it. It started a long line of great Audi ads which were often unapologetically macho
The three most important components of any brand are distribution, positioning and great ads.”
“There are three core components to any strong brand.
Firstly, building a clear brand identity and personality. Secondly, identifying target audience and how a brand is unique and best-placed to meet them by continuing to research consumers to determine the most effective approach. And lastly, creating engaging advertising that helps a brand remain memorable.”
“Brands impact our lives every single day. With people having less time and more choice, branding is what makes companies stand out from the noise.
My favourite campaign of all time was the first “This Girl Can” by Sport England which was aimed at encouraging women to participate in sport really stuck with me. I think for me it was the first advert I’d seen which really tackled the insecurities of ‘ordinary’ women and had such a positive and empowering message.
My Pyschology degree is relevant to brand research every day. Working within the Brand team it is all about trying to understand the psychology behind the brands we love and what drives people towards them.”
“A powerful brand creates loyal customers and allows individuals to buy into what a company stands for. If an individual can see themselves reflected within a brand they will look past all other competitors despite any advantages they may have and only consider the brand they feel represents themselves.”
“In this world of vast choice and digital aggregation also throws up big challenges at a brand level – how do we meaningfully engage and differentiate with consumers, when our traditional touchpoints and opportunities for interaction are fast diminishing?
As a brand, I think I’ll be forever indebted to Spotify – their playlists, clever algorithms and general ease of use have enabled me to bring so much more fantastic music into my life, and to ween myself off my previous diet of guilty-pleasure power ballads (with occasional relapses, understandably). Spotify is a great example of a brand that is using technology to support consumer decision making on a content level. But
Qual research is ideal for brand development. By understanding the human experience, and what makes people ‘tick’, we can unlock those meaningful connections with consumers!”
It’s no good asking people what they think they know. There are scenarios where people simply can’t or won’t tell you what they really think. In the real-world, responses to people, brands and marketing is influenced by unconscious associations.
Most of the time, respondents may simply be unaware or unable to articulate their ‘true’ attitudes or behavioural motivations. Implicit Response Testing is a way to directly bypass people’s rational, conscious thoughts and get to their real attitudes and reasoning.
The Populus Implicit Response Test measures how quickly people make associations between words and stimulus. For example, we can test brand logos, adverts or photos. The order of stimulus and target words are randomised over multiple test blocks. Fast response shows stronger implicit association between stimulus and attributes.
Why it works
This bespoke online tool measures how quickly people make associations between words and stimulus. The faster the response, the stronger the implicit association between stimulus and attributes. It works because it analyses claimed attributes and combines information with implicit/ subconscious reactions, giving clients a level of insight not possible otherwise.
People can’t articulate how they feel easily and therefore asking them will often result in rational responses. The best way to understand people’s emotional response to something is to capture it passively, unobtrusively and in-the-moment, which removes the risk of bias or reliance on post-rationalism.
Populus, with carefully selected technology partners, has developed a pioneering biometric approach that captures and tracks the implicit emotional journeys that everyone goes on when they consume media, in real-time.
It works by capturing the second-by-second, real-time galvanic skin responses via a sensor that sits within the palm of the hand. Panellists, selected from the PopulusLive panel of 150,000 people, each receive biometric sensors which clip onto the palm of the hand. They also download a companion app to record responses wirelessly.
They then watch the media that brands need to test. All the while, the medical-grade biometric sensors measure second-by-second emotional arousal in response to the footage. Respondents completed a pre- and post-viewing survey, and rated the content in real-time using a thumbs up or thumbs down approach within the companion app, to deliver rich explicit reactions for comparison.
Behind the scenes, Populus automatically analyses the data using state-of-the-art algorithms, generating emotional impact reports within an interactive dashboard. The result is second-by-second tracking via a biometric traceline.
Why it works
Biometrics is a cost-effective and accurate way to conduct large-scale research into long-form media. The emotional impact report generated delivers moment-by-moment guidance on how best to optimise media.
The solution has proved such a success that it is being used to measure every F1 race in 2019. The approach makes sense. The response to viewing experiences, is emotional. It is therefore imperative to capture and analyse emotional responses.
The way we view the world is directly informed by our surroundings. From the layout of a store to the location of a product on a shelf; our rational thoughts are directly informed by the external world. What if we could transport people virtually into different environments?
Virtual Reality (VR) has historically been confined to the realms of science fiction. Increasingly, researchers are waking up to the power of VR in conducting immersive market research. By virtually placing the respondent in a different environment, researchers can gain in-depth qualitative insight on a large-scale, quant level. For example, it’s perfect for retail spaces where a crowded environment make it difficult to test in-store concepts on-site.
Populus, alongside trusted technology partners, have created intuitive mobile survey solutions that integrate VR 360-videos into the survey itself. Our Virtual Reality Panel have Google Cardboard headsets and take part in the survey via their smartphone. Once they have viewed the video and experienced the location that brands need to test, respondents feed back on their experience.
Why it works
VR has proven to be a highly effective way to bring external environments to life in the comfort of respondents’ own homes, delivering immersive experiences that allows brands to test a range of concepts. The insight generated generates qual insight at quant scales, fully mimicking external worlds, from home.
It’s impossible to know how to improve, if you don’t have a benchmark. Regular brand tracking is a way for brands to monitor performance and to become acquainted with the public’s perceptions of them. As it is conducted on a regular basis, it provides a reliable indicator of ongoing performance over a period of time.
Regular nationally representative online interviews, with booster interviews in relevant regions where needed, form the bulk of our brand tracking. The surveys can be configured with larger and smaller waves throughout the year in order to maximise budget as the client requires. We can measure a range of areas including awareness, consideration, visitation, category missions, Net Promoter and buzz score, purchase intention, attitudinal perceptions, ad recall and offers testing and optimisation. Insight is then fed back to senior stakeholders.
Why it works
Ongoing brand tracking works because it provides an ongoing picture of a brand’s position within the market. It is an effective way to assess the impact of marketing and ad campaigns. It will ensure you’re up-to-date on brand awareness, attitudes and likelihood to purchase. Insight and communications departments can then use it to inform ongoing strategy and campaign planning.
Copy testing is a technique that allows brands to further optimise advertising before it launches. The idea is that brands can ensure that advertising communicates the right, on-brand messages that resonate most with the target audience. It is a helpful tool to tweak final advertising before launch.
Copy Testing is carried out using a monadic online methodology to test different adverts isolation. We also test campaign elements together in order to gain a full campaign overview.
Why it works
Copy testing is a great way of understanding how well adverts are received in terms of main message take-outs, proposition and audience responses. It can give brands the confidence to take concepts to market and the ability to identify the best performing ads.
By taking the best advert with optimum branding to market, brands can ensure that their ads perform effectively. Copy testing enriches campaigns by ensuring messages are clear, concise and targeted to the desired audience.
We know that creative advertising looks deceptively simple. We know that successful advertising is well-branded, has clear single-minded messaging and is engaging. Our core approach is to ensure that our research programmes are structured around the objectives of any campaign. Therefore, we collaborate with our clients and their partner agencies to ensure that we track the right measures.
In order to track the right measures, we are bespoke and flexible in our approach. We always ensure that we integrate the questions that provide value to our clients. When setting KPI’s, we look at the objectives and design and approach that can ascertain if they are being met. We will use all techniques to not only see how the comms inspires action, but also to understand how it is shifting perceptions both explicitly and implicitly.
Why it works
Communications Tracking gives brands an overview into how their messages and campaigns are landing. It can be used to measure progress against objectives, and to inform refinement where needed. Our Communications Tracking works because it is completely tailored to each individual client’s KPI’s and objectives.
People aren’t always able to article how they really feel about something. However, we know that the majority of consumer decision-making is based on intuition and gut feeling. It’s more effective to gauge the emotional reaction of respondents to understand their true perceptions.
Facial coding technology can be embedded into our surveys, alongside explicit survey questions, in order to effectively analyse the conscious and non-conscious responses of participants. Facial responses includes happiness, surprise, puzzlement, disgust, fear and sadness. This allows for a full range of emotional responses to stimuli as well as the option to compare the implicit and explicit respondent responses.
Why it works
Facial coding delivers a fully rounded understanding of respondent responses to advertising. Facial coding allows clients to see the raw emotional responses. This delivers clear direction on what to move ahead with.
Around 94% of the UK population now own a mobile, according to recent estimates. Our phones gatekeepers of behaviours and attitudes, and hold a wealth of data and insight about us. Populus has developed an innovative method to capture this data, which can then be used to deliver a deeper understanding of claimed behaviour.
Respondents are passively tracked over a specified period, usually 4 weeks. Our 5,000-strong passive metering panel opt-in to do so, ensuring that all data is compliant. Behind the scenes, Populus then passively collect actual mobile and table usage data. This includes websites visited, streamed media and search behaviour. We then aggregate it in order to deliver real-world solutions.
Why it works
The richness of data delivered cannot be achieved through claimed behaviour alone. The technique effectively bypasses post-rationalised responses to capture the raw data that exists in abundance within recipients’ phones. It works because respondents, having consented, quickly revert to normal behaviours on their phones, allowing us to collect the data with no impact on their interactions.
The human eye is the fastest muscle in the body. It moves at around 500 degrees per second or more. It is the window on the world, and in turn, an indicator of our most unconscious, most natural responses. Tracking eye movements is a passive way to capture subconscious and unbiased data in an implicit way.
Eye tracking lets you see how consumers react to different messages, giving clients direct access to their cognitive engagement in real-time. Specific areas of interest can be mapped out based entirely on respondents’ eye movements.
Why it works
Eye tracking is a sophisticated implicit method. It works because it relies on respondents’ most natural of movements; something they do intuitively and without thinking. This means that the data it captures is reliable and accurate.
People view brands holistically, but brands are comprised of lots of different areas. Pinpointing the exact point at which respondents are most engaged, or indeed, least engaged, can be an extremely effective way of streamlining branding and messaging. Heatmaps allow us to do just this.
Heatmaps allow us to understand particular areas the respondent likes, dislikes, or finds confusing and can be displayed as dots, a traditional heatmap or using clickable pre-defined areas. Our message highlighting tools allows the respondent to click on specific words, images or areas.
Why it works
Heatmaps work because they allow brands to test concepts long before they’re issued to the public. The concept, in combination with a scorecard of KPI’s delivers a comprehensive assessment on a range of topics spanning interest/appeal, relevance, easy-to-understand, new/different, credible/not credible, and many others.
Qualitative research is central to the Populus Brand Practice. By digging deep into peoples’ lives and experiences, and getting to the heart of what drives people and makes them ‘tick’, we can create human-centric brand strategy that forges properly meaningful connections.
How it works
Our qualitative toolkit spans the full range of the brand optimisation process, from early-stage ideation of positioning concepts through to the evaluation and refinement of brand communications.
Why it works
We help our clients create better, braver, more emotionally engaging strategy, without compromising on speed, agility and efficiency.
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