KISS: Key Questions for Awareness, Attitudes and Usage (AAU)

brand-awareness-imageOne of the go-to surveys for brand managers and ad agencies is the Awareness, Attitudes and Usage study (or AAU and also known as A&U.) AAU studies can be completed for brands, specific products and services, categories, or markets. These studies guide brand marketers’ decisions to develop the brand and grow the business, including opportunities to expand reach, attract new customers, improve positioning, or otherwise optimize product features and benefits. AAU studies are usually tracking studies, done periodically over time to evaluate changes in key metrics. Additionally, because AAU studies evaluate brand or products against their competition, AAU studies describe the market context in which a brand or product operates.

Because it is especially important to maintain high-quality data and strong response rates in tracking studies, we are continuing with our efforts to help you make surveys shorter, less time consuming, and easier to complete for participants. Here are some essential questions for a KISS (Keep it Short and Simple) Awareness, Attitudes and Usage survey:

  • Unaided awareness. What percent of respondents mention our brand/product without being prompted? Unaided awareness is the true test of top-of-mind relevance of your brand or product.
  • Product use. Which product do they use most frequently? And how often do they purchase and use the product or brand of interest?
  • Other products used. If their most preferred brand or product is not available, what do they use in its place? What other products do they use occasionally?
  • Aided awareness. What percent of respondents have heard of our product or brand when they hear it or see it?
  • Attribute assessment. Compared to the product or brand used most often by the respondent, how does our product or brand compare on key features and benefits? In keeping with our intent to minimize the number of questions asked in AAU surveys, the number of attributes and benefits should be limited to those that few are most differentiating or most competitive for the brand, product, or category in question.

Measuring the change in level and direction for these questions can give you important information about your position in the marketplace and against competitors. However, you will need additional information to help you decide on specific actions to improve that position. Specifically understanding how your marketing programs and tactics impact AAU metrics can help drive more precise targeting of marketing campaigns and messages.

Some AAU studies include a measure of purchase or re-purchase intent. While many marketers discourage using this metric as a predictor due to its unreliability, there are cases where it is more appropriate. For example, I am aware (unaided and aided) of Mercedes cars, I don’t drive a Mercedes, but I believe the Mercedes product is far superior to the brand of car I use. Does that make me a target customer for Mercedes? Well, consider this: I am still driving my 2004 Honda, have no plans to purchase, and even if I did plan to purchase, there is no chance I will buy a Mercedes. So no, even though my awareness and attribute ratings are high, I am not a target customer.

Shorter surveys may make it possible to measure AAU more frequently, which should make linkages between marketing action and sales impact clearer and better defined. But even if you intend to maintain the frequency of your AAU tracking, making surveys shorter will give you better data, and happier respondents. So, KISS! Keep it short and simple for better survey results.

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