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Introduction Projecting the right image using projective techniques to measure brand image Ask any audience what Bulls Bears Sharks Tigers Eagles Broncos and Rhinos have in common and the response rugby league teams will be almost instantaneous Similarly Canaries Magpies Foxes Owls Rams and Wolves will be quickly identified as the images of soccer teams Associating animals with brands or products extends far beyond the sports marketing arena The delightful puppy used to promote Andrex the chimps who drink PG Tips and the tiger associated with petrol sales have become part of our popular culture The reason for this proliferation of associations between brands and animals or other images and symbols is simply an attempt to use secondary features to distinguish between almost identical brands and products This paper explores the use of projective techniques for examining the transfer of characteristics from two sets of cue cards to a sample of food brands In recent years there has been an explosion in the number of product categories and the number of similar brands available which has required marketers and advertisers to look more closely at how customers relate to their brands In the FMCG industry there is the added problem of the retailer labels many large manufacturers of branded goods have lost clear brand leadership in a number of important markets to private label products which is particularly problematic as price and brand name are often the only distinguishing features This has prompted a shift away from focusing on consumers wants and needs in favour of brand equity and maximising investment in existing products with line extensions Piirto Heath 1996 Max Blackston of Ogilvy and Mather says There s little that distinguishes between brands these days in consumers eyes It s often very very small subtle things that you have to leverage Piirto Heath 1990 The proliferation of new data sources entering the market including scanner data and single source databases is making it tempting for marketers to seek their answers through consumer response to marketing effort and to track changes in market share brand loyalty and brand switching However these are objective behavioural measures that provide little evidence of the emotional and textural aspects of consumer response Michael Hussey and Nicola Duncombe The authors Michael Hussey is Lecturer in Marketing Research at Aston Business School Aston Birmingham UK Nicola Duncombe is Research Associate at Aston Business School Aston Birmingham UK Keywords Brand image Brands Consumer behaviour Food Marketing research Abstract Research has shown that consumers very often do not use explicit concrete rational factors to evaluate products and thus their motivation to purchase is not always easy to articulate Traditionally marketers have used projective techniques in qualitative research groups to overcome this problem This method is not infallible as each moderator brings his or her own style to discussions and subjective judgement to the interpretation of results and it is practically impossible to replicate identically over time The work presented in this paper describes the development of a set of implicit characteristics for two animation sets to which respondents will respond similarly and with consistency through which we can identify the brand image held and consequently the motivations behind brand choice Qualitative Market Research An International Journal Volume 2 Number 1 1999 pp 22 30 MCB University Press ISSN 1352 2752 22 Projecting the right image Qualitative Market Research An International Journal Michael Hussey and Nicola Duncombe Volume 2 Number 1 1999 22 30 solution may be the identification or creation of a set of stimuli that produce consistent response across individuals Although standard quantitative techniques can be used to extract the many explicit concrete rational factors that consumers use to evaluate products not all buying decisions are exclusively or even predominantly thoughtful rational decisions that are easily articulated Raffel 1996 Consumer products have a significance that goes beyond their utilitarian functional and commercial value Erickson 1996 This accounts for the renaissance in the use of qualitative techniques over recent years many qualitative methods provide insight into the whys of consumer behaviour explaining the relationship between a consumer and a particular branded product retailer or service provider Day 1989 Of particular interest are those methods that resemble as closely as possible the Freudian technique of Free Association which are collectively called projective techniques Atkinson et al 1990 Projective techniques involve presenting subjects with ambiguous stimuli to which they may respond as they wish Theoretically because the stimuli are ambiguous and do not require a specific response the individual is able to project his or her personality on to the stimuli In qualitative research projective techniques allow respondents to project their perceptions and feelings onto some other person or object or in some other way are allowed to depersonalise their responses and thus they feel freer to express their thoughts and feelings Day 1989 thus breaking several barriers to communication lack of awareness of repressed motivations inability to express themselves unwillingness to disclose certain feelings irrationality and subjects trying to say the right things to please the interviewer Nevertheless projective techniques are not infallible as each moderator brings his or her own style to discussions and subjective judgement to the interpretation of results Despite some specialists employing content analysis and special analytical techniques to bring some measure of objectivity to the analytical process it remains subjective Also standard focus group limitations apply they require personal interviews with highlytrained interviewers which is incredibly time consuming and expensive and is impossible to replicate identically over time Therefore some method of using projective techniques in a more objective manner is required Recent research has suggested that one The implicit model Heylen et al 1995 have developed an implicit model of consumer behaviour which attempts to provide a systematic objective scientific base for data collection data analysis and data interpretation and to provide the link between qualitative and quantitative research The formulation of the implicit model has made

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