Translating Market Research to the Language of Value Propositions

Can you walk the walk and talk the talk? Today’s post is brought to you by market research expert Kathryn Korostoff — who heads up Research Rockstar. Find the full article in our latest ebook, Adapting to the Digital Brand Landscape Using Research.

While there are various definitions of “value proposition,” the essence is this: A value proposition is a statement that clearly describes why your target market would want to spend money with your brand.  

For some brands, this might be about superior service; for others, about a unique product attribute. For some, the value proposition is simply about being the low-cost option. And for others? It may not even be something that is “rational”; it may be a purely emotional trigger the brand taps into.

Brand managers are often responsible for making sure the brand’s value proposition is differentiated from the competition and currently viable. “Current” is important, as many product categories evolved rapidly: yesterday’s differentiated value proposition might become tomorrow’s ho-hum.

Customer surveys are often used to uncover or test value proposition assumptions and options. So how does the market researcher speak the language of value propositions?

There are two paths:

1) Seek to highlight brand attributes that are perceived as “unique.”

Does the data show that the proposed value proposition “is perceived as unique”? And we aren’t talking about marginal uniqueness—the brand manager needs slam-dunk uniqueness. If your data has relevant key findings that can be used to “identify Brand X’s unique, defensible value proposition options,” they will love you.

Conversely, if the research finds that the brand lacks a defensible, unique value proposition, your brand manager needs to know that too. It’s bad news, but it’s an important reality check for a brand manager who may need help getting an executive team to pay attention to “valid marketing challenges.”

2) Identify ways to optimize the value proposition by country.

Does the data show that the value proposition needs to be modified by country or region (“country-specific value propositions”)? Or can the brand effectively use a “universal value proposition”?

This last point turns out to be very common: if your client represents a multinational brand, they may very well face this challenge. In their 2014 article, “Designed with you in mind,” Scott Garrison and Jet Kruith of SKIM, describe a case study of a cleaning product that was successful in the US with an“easy” theme, but succeeded in Italy with a cleaning “deeply” one: two very different value propositions! And a great demonstration of how value propositions sometimes vary by country.

Want to really thrill your brand manager? Identify value propositions that work both universally and find ones that may be country-specific: that gives them the best of both worlds from which to choose. For example, “Brand X has four unique, defensible value proposition options. Two are universal; two are country-specific” (followed, of course by your awesome data).

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