Helping Your Brand Emerge Stronger Than Ever

For Melbourne-based businesses and brands, the next few weeks present some less than ideal circumstances. As we’re thrust into another round of restrictions, motivation levels are at an all-time low. And for those lucky enough to keep their jobs, the focus shifts towards just trying to maintain any sense of normality possible and weather the storm. We move forth with the outlook of, “It will be over sooner or later.”

If you work in marketing (and still have your job – many have not been so lucky) and aren’t sure of where to steer the ship, I implore you to not hit ‘schedule’ on another COVID-related social post. Instead, save it to drafts and undergo something that will protect your brand long-term and make your job easier. Something that will provide light at the end of the tunnel.


I can hear you saying, “But Nick, I’ve been working in my industry long enough to know what people want.” Don’t worry, most people say that.

As Daniel J. Boorstin, influential social historian and educator said:

The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.

Daniel J. Boorstin

The Super Netball Commission had a similar thought process when they introduced a two-point shot to players and fans just six weeks before the start of the season, which was met uproar and backlash from the very same people they were trying to please.

They forgot the first and most important rule of marketing. You are not your customer.

From the moment you start working at your organisation, you surrender the ability to be a consumer of your brand ever again. Your bias can be crippling – both to your company and your career.

Don’t be like George

And if recent research by The Lab and Nature is anything to go by, we could see some shifts in what consumers value from brands when we return to normalcy. 

While you can spend a small fortune on market research, if you’ve got the motivation and a large enough sample size of your own, it can be very cost-efficient. 

At haarper, we’ve been using this time getting stuck into significant research for a number of our clients. This has led us to uncover fascinating insights; missed had it not been undertaken. For a sporting client, we discovered that different segments within their consumer base had completely different attitudes and motivations towards competing, allowing us to tweak the product mix to cater to these differences. For an education client, we found three overwhelming factors that influenced their consumer’s decision to choose our client over a competitor. Pretty cool? Maybe. Useful to the bottom line of those businesses? Absolutely. 

As a marketer, there’s no reason not to do research. It not only makes your job easier, but you can report to and brief those higher up with confidence. What you’re saying is backed up by accurate primary and secondary data. 

Don’t know where to start with the research process? Here’s a quick checklist to send you well on your way.

1. Invest in your question.

What overarching thoughts and assumptions do you have about your consumers that you want answered? Think, “If I just knew the answer to this question, it would make my job so much easier.” Start broad, don’t think of what these questions would look like on a survey just yet.

2. Is this information readily available?

Google is your first friend. Sometimes, a lot of the information you need can be discovered through secondary (other people’s) research. Often though, what you find may not be specific enough to your brand and the questions you have. If this is the case, you’ll need to collect your own data – primary data.

3. Start with qualitative.

If you don’t have the budget or resources for focus groups, ask individual consumers to shed some light on what you need to be answered from point one. Their explanations will allow you to create specific questions for the next step.

4. Move to quantitative.

Use the findings from your one-on-ones to determine whether they’re consistent among all of your customers. The easiest and most cost-efficient way to do this is with a survey. To ensure that the responses you get are an accurate, representative sample of the entire market, you’ll need to determine what sample size you need. Don’t worry; it’s easy. Check it out here.

Then, split your survey into three sections:
– Demographic section (Age, income, location, etc.)
– Attitudinal section (Opinions, judgments, emotions, and perceptions)
– Behavioural section (Relates to any actions the consumer takes)

Have one last run through to see if the questions you’ve listed will gather the information you need. Be strict on yourself here. Wrong questions = wrong answers = wrong data = wrong strategy = not good for anyone.

5. Send out your survey.

If you don’t have the budget to send it out to a paid sample, use your current customer base. Don’t stress if you don’t have a plethora of email addresses – any data is better than none.

6. Analyse the data.

Identify differences in attitudes and behaviours and see if they’re specific to any demographics. In this step, you’re looking for consistent patterns and any trends that make you go, “Hmm, interesting.”

7. Proceed with your strategy.

If done right, by this stage, you should have enough data to shape your segmentation, targeting, positioning, and strategy moving forward. It should provide you with the information to navigate out of uncertainty, and into clarity and confidence that makes a difference to your consumers. Remember, choosing who not to target is arguably more important that who to target.

So, delete that scheduled post and go forth with this new-found knowledge. Good luck! 

If you need any help with the research process, drop me a line at and pick our brains over a (virtual) coffee.

Nick Katsonis

Brand Strategy & Engagement