7 tricks for cracking trackers

Turn your tracker into a true ‘radar’ that helps executives spot and solve issues before these become a real problem.

Finger pointing at radar
Finger pointing at radar

Katia Pallini

13 September 2023

4 min read


Brand trackers – the most ambivalent research tools of all times. A true love/hate relationship for many researchers and research users. While they provide a finger on the pulse, allowing to continuously measure brand performance, they often lead to frustrations amongst their users. Why? Because trackers are among the most static, repetitive, and unidimensional research solutions, often lack relevance and credibility, and are not actionable. So how can we turn the tide and make brand trackers future-proof?


From ‘alarms’ to ‘radars’

Brand trackers are all too often used as ‘alarms’ that should go off in case of problems. Yet, trackers should rather function as ‘radars’ that determine the position, velocity and distance of brands, allowing managers to take proactive action. Only when trackers evolve from being ‘alarms’ to being ‘radars’ can they grow into true management decision tools.


Seven tips to crack your tracker


1. Don’t track for the sake of tracking

Start by asking yourself which key performance indicators are worth tracking over time by critically evaluating the significance of each performance criterion in your survey. Does the item directly influence your brand strength and impact your strategy? If the answer is ‘no’, you should instantly discard that question from your survey. It is not because you have always measured your brand performance through the traditional brand funnel thinking that you should continue to do so. So, stop tracking for the sake of tracking and revise your tracker survey, question by question.


2. Use clear consumer language

Make sure that each question is written in clear consumer language. Always ask yourself if your average consumer will be able to answer your questions. As researchers and marketers, you need to keep in mind that the average consumer is not like you, so avoid using marketing jargon. Here’s a simple trick: ask yourself whether your next-door neighbor would be able to answer your survey questions.


3. Align with your brand strategy

There is an abundance of books and theories guiding marketers in growing strong brands. The choice of brand strategy, or ‘Brand Religion’ not only shapes how one defines brand success, it also outlines how to measure brand performance. It’s not a ‘one size fits all’; a brand tracker should be customised according to your brand strategy. An example is the work we have done with Miele.  We designed a survey based on the output of a ‘Brand Religion’ workshop. The survey uncovered Miele’s DNA, and its key brand KPIs and drivers, based on a classification of marketing streams. We applied a modular survey with a limited number of questions which are relevant for the participants’ profile, keeping it future-proof, such as:

  • brand funnel questions at the umbrella level, and one specific product category question, to get feedback regarding four different product categories
  • questions on brand drivers/ image and customer journey
  • finally, in order to involve all 25 countries, two locally relevant questions

This all resulted in a dedicated brand growth model, indicating the performance of the brand in specific markets and for specific segments.


4. Make them adaptive and modular

What do you think is the average length of a brand tracker survey? 15 minutes? Think again.

More than 30 minutes is no exception today, unfortunately. A modular approach – in which modules are switched on and off based on stakeholders’ needs – can help brands to choose wisely as to what to include while preventing participant fatigue. It provides the flexibility to tune your trackers to the current marketing reality. This flexibility also helps maintain the attention of executives and spur their curiosity to learn something new with each measurement and reporting wave.




5. Limit your question’s time frame

Many tracker questions rely on information recall. Depending on a question’s time frame, it can be hard for people to provide an accurate answer, resulting in imperfect and thus unreliable input. Trackers must avoid questions which require thinking too far back in time. As a guideline, try to use the repurchase time frame of your product or service.


6. Measure in relevant context or moments

Especially when consumers (could) connect with your brand via different touchpoints, make sure your survey is available throughout those touchpoints, allowing consumers to provide in-the-moment feedback. This is exactly what SkyTeam has done in their quest to become more customer-centric. By means of geolocation technology, customer feedback is captured across eight touchpoints for 20 airlines in over 1,000 airports worldwide. The app triggers customer feedback while people are in the actual experience. When evaluating a touchpoint negatively or positively, open-ended questions probe for the ‘why’, and customers can even upload a picture. For SkyTeam, the tracker shows their passengers’ reality, allowing the airline group to address shortcomings immediately.


7. Contextualise for advanced actionability

Your tracker might provide a hard-core metric, but it often won’t explain the why behind it. To boost your tracker’s actionability, adding context is advisable. This can be done by using complementary methods such as an insight community. SkyTeam, for instance, complements its tracker results with the input from its Jet Setters online research community and by connecting with passengers in real life.


In summary, to ensure that a brand tracker becomes a true management tool, you should not track for the sake of tracking. Trackers need to use clear consumer language, be aligned with the brand’s strategy, be adaptive and modular, include a limited time frame, measure in the moment and be contextualised. Only then do they have the potential to become a ‘radar’ which helps executives spot and solve issues before these become a real problem.


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