Trackers are often regarded as the holy grail for CMI managers, and suppliers are rarely changed in order to maintain stability. That is because tracking numbers typically reach top management and any changes might raise uncomfortable questions to the CMI team. Hence, trackers are often kept in the same regime year on year even though it leaves companies with lower quality insights and higher cost.
We are involved in quite a few trackers for our clients and boy do we want more! Trackers are the flagships within quantitative research; when you first get them they seem to be very sticky and that’s good for the agencies.
But is it also good for the companies that buy and rely on these trackers? Not necessarily.
Tracking data is often used to measure and compare a brand’s position relative to competition and stability is indeed important. However, the tendency to consider tracker data the “truth” just because it has been consistent for a long time is poison to innovation.
I believe that most CMI managers know that their tracking data is not necessarily the “truth” but that the consequences of disclosing this to other parts of the organization might cause a lot of additional work in terms of critical questions to answer, wrongful conclusions about brand position and ultimately a negative review for the CMI team.
But here’s the thing:
Whether your aided brand awareness is 64% or 69% is relevant, but how the aided awareness performs relative to the nearest competition and general quality is key.
The absolute numbers from a tracker are of course of importance, but will - regardless of the method and supplier - always differ from reality due to biases etc. Hence, it is the relative relationship between your brand and the competition and the developments in these that are interesting.
As most people outside the CMI team don’t know this, it keeps many trackers locked in with current suppliers despite problems with sampling, representativity and general dissatisfaction with the setup.
But changes in absolute values should never be the reason to keep a tracking in a certain setup if not generating the insights needed - this serves nothing but stability itself!
Whether you are a CEO, CMO or any other consumer insights stakeholder you should focus on what is truly important for your brand’s performance. Consistent or growing parameters might be nice for show, but it is the relative performance and the development in this that defines your brand’s success.
A change in absolute parameters e.g. aided awareness is an acceptable trade off if you get better and more useful insights in return.
So: trust your data but trust your CMI team more and set them free.