Navigating Changes in Trackers

By Courtney Hocking

Brand Trackers have been a valuable methodology for brands and MRX businesses alike.  As most researchers know, an explicit rule of every tracker is to avoid any unnecessary changes after a launch.   

What happens when a change is forced by the business environment?  What then? 

This isn’t theoretical.  We are living in rapidly evolving times.  The forced changes are piling up 

Industry Events That Should Trigger a Tracker Review 

Here are some recent scenarios that have affected US-based trackers in 2024.  These events probably are impacting your trackers too.   

  • Consumer Tracker results start deviating in unexplainable ways 
  • Data quality issues cause delays. 
  • A major vendor files Chapter 11. 
  • Two vendors merge and integrate platforms, changing both sides of the delivery approach. 

None of these events were within the control of the research firms.  Yet, each caused a scramble and required strategic conversations with clients.  

Are MRXers stuck?  Absolutely not!  But we get it, change is hard.   

Just remember, standing still doesn’t mean you’re delaying change.  It just means the change occurs without your input.  

There is a responsible and conscientious way to make a change like this.  Especially if the status quo represents a bigger disruption than moving the project would. 

Four Key questions to ask during change 

What is the underlying current mix of old vs. new sample?  

By reviewing the proportion of sample, you can take an incremental blended approach wave over wave given to each supplier.  

Do you have a pre-survey deduplication method that is not reliant on the original vendor?  

When looking at the online sample space today, many panels aggregate so the overlap can be heavy.  It’s important than any field plan for trackers include a deduplication technology that is independent of the sample vendor(s). 

If looking to move the programming to a new provider, will the respondent experience be the same?  

Simply put, will the questions be formatted similarly and will the survey feel the same on desktop and mobile. Respondent experience philosophy is a design you can bring with you to a new vendor.  

Lastly and maybe most importantly, really ask yourself..

Why do you want to move from your current provider and how will I measure success?

    Aligning with your new sample provider and programming partner needs to be more than just a pricing decision.  Take advantage of the moment to evaluate the longer-term impact of a new partnership.   
    How is technology driving their business today?  Where do they see AI taking place in their current model in the next 1-3 years? How are they supporting my data quality strategy?  Is this partner likely to still exist in 1-3 years?   

    A good tracker can run for a long time and can successfully navigate change.  But success odds skyrocket when you have a partner who is in it with you for the long haul.   

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