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Brand equity can be complex and difficult for your customers to articulate. This is true even for an adult audience. But, imagine if your brand needed to measure brand equity among children who are as young as six years old. That is quite a challenge!

 

Companies must solidly understand consumer perceptions regarding brand equity regardless of age. Enabled with consumer feedback, a company can enhance their strengths, diminish weaknesses, and take advantage of untapped opportunities. 

 

A leading fast-food restaurant endeavored to determine brand equity with a 6-year-old consumer group in order to develop future marketing plans and sought the help of skilled experts to handle this delicate task. C+R Research developed an innovative plan that included fun activities to provide reliable data while being suitable for small children.

Problem

A large restaurant company was measuring brand equity for its own products and offerings but needed this same information in comparison to its key competitors. The company needed to uncover the perceptions among its youngest consumers: children as young as six years old.

 

Additionally, using the same consumer group of youngsters, the restaurant needed research conducted to uncover how its consumer-packaged goods were perceived when compared to its competitors.

 

The idea of brand equity is complex. It can be difficult to explain for adults. Studying young consumers can prove problematic because these consumers do not yet have the skills required for typical research methods. Additionally, children may not have the abstract thinking skills required to express brand identities. Even further, extracting proper, accurate conclusions and data points that the company can rely upon can be difficult when working with such a young audience.

 

Regardless, this knowledge was crucial if the brand was to aptly direct the shape of future communications to best serve the needs and desires of the target market group and their families.  

Result

C+R Research unveiled several interesting and exciting insights for the client, which provided opportunities for the company to increase customer satisfaction by targeting a child’s emotional needs more succinctly.

 

While the restaurant was on par with its competitors when it comes to convenience, food, and value, one of the key discoveries revealed that the brand triggered a positive emotional reaction among its young consumer group. The brand stood out from its competitors by offering appealing toys and by providing areas specific for children in several locations. 

 

The study revealed the difference between a “good” toy and a mediocre toy in meals and the role each played in consumer choices. Restaurant selections as well as menu selections were impacted based on the perceived value of the toy. For example, a mediocre toy could lead a consumer into choosing a la carte menu items instead of purchasing the complete child’s meal. Worse still, a mediocre toy may avert a trip to the restaurant altogether.

 

The research revealed that the delivery of the food also affected satisfaction. In general, meals in boxes are preferred over meals in bags. Children are also positively driven if the restaurant provided play places for them as they stimulated a child’s sense of fun and excitement. If parents decided to use the drive-thru window, children were disappointed that they could not utilize the play place.

 

Competitive comparison showed that restaurants without toys and/or play places weren’t perceived as kid-friendly by the 6 year olds. Even in cases where the children enjoy the food at such establishments, if key elements were lacking, children considered those restaurants boring and for grown-ups.

 

The study also included some parental feedback. It revealed that parents appreciate menus offering healthier food options. Mothers also appreciated positive messages about discipline and exercise.

 

The research report allowed the company to understand this special consumer group as well as consumers’ perceptions of brand strengths and weaknesses across the fast food industry.

Solution

C+R Research developed an innovative approach to study the children responsibly and accurately.

 

Research sessions were conducted in triads among first and second grade boys and girls with dine-along ethnographies with the same ages and parents. 

 

C+R developed a series of “emotion flashcards.” The flashcards showed an emotion as well as a cartoon that helped to define the emotion. The flashcards were instrumental in studying the perceptions of children who could not yet read or who did not yet possess the skills required for abstract thinking.

 

The flashcards included illustrations of key and relevant elements of equity, such as togetherness, excitement, or “for grown-ups.” The children attributed the “flashcards” next to a related image that made them feel the emotion shown on the card. After the children placed the flashcard, they were asked to discuss why they placed each particular emotion as they did. 

 

This method for research provided an accurate and revealing look into this consumer group which provided the client the information needed to develop key touch points for children. It was also instrumental in developing creative advertising messaging to better improve serving families in this demographic.