The Barbie effect: five reasons why businesses should conduct market research

The new age consumer holds a lot of power over brands. Gen Zs have been paving the way for a complete overhaul in traditional consumer behaviours and loyalty to specific brands is becoming less prevalent among the younger generation, which means some brands are struggling to innovate and are being left behind. How do we know this? Research.

Research helps businesses keep their fingers on the pulse of market activity and acts as the eyes and ears for assessing how consumers engage with their brand. Whether it’s measuring attitudes, market share against competitors, or contributing to market insights, research is vital for brands to understand their own identity from the consumer’s perspective.

The Barbie movie is a prime example of a brand fully understanding its target audience. The marketeers behind the movie understand the nostalgia Barbie brought many consumers, while tuning into current consumer trends such as gamification. As a result, Barbie has been given a modern, pink, twist through the Barbie Dreamhouse Airbnb, pink TARDIS and AI-generated Barbies from different nationalities.

This multi-channel experience has now landed the film $1 billion at the global box office, making it one of the highest grossing releases of the year, and the highest grossing film created by a female director. By fully understanding consumer perceptions towards the brand, fans are made to feel like they are, quite literally, living in a Barbie world.

From a media relations perspective, we often explain to our clients that we require data to back up a good news story. Research can give us the all-important stats we need to bring a story to life. This can be gathered through existing or commissioned market research.

3x1 recently held a learning session with global research provider, 3Gem, on important market research techniques our clients can adopt to support ongoing strategy, as well as providing us with key insights to help shape messaging.

Here are five reasons why brands should consider conducting market research:


1. Tracking brand awareness

Brands may have an awareness of their consumer, but do the consumers know their brand? Holistic market research techniques such as tracking brand awareness assess how familiar a brand is to their target consumer. This is an excellent benchmarking technique and can be measured against marketing activity such as product development and announcements to determine if awareness has increased among its target audience.

2. Determining brand perception

This helps businesses understand their brand through the eyes of the consumer, but this time delves into their opinions of a brand, and what it means to its consumers. This form of measurement ultimately provides a ‘health check’ for a brand. In addition, as PR professionals manage the reputation of clients in the public domain, determining brand perceptions is a key tool for informing and developing strategy and key messages.

3. Knowing your competitors

They say you should keep your friends close but keep your competitors closer. Competitor analysis is another reason to demonstrate just how important market research is to brands. This gives businesses an overall view of how their brand is performing in the marketplace in comparison to competing businesses. If competitors are performing better, or have a bigger market share, this will be shown in the research findings. From here, businesses can use the findings to make informed brand marketing decisions.

4. Informing strategy

We now understand how aware consumers are of the brand, how consumers perceive the brand, and how well the brand is performing in comparison to competitors; where do we go from here? A culmination of these research techniques can be compiled into comprehensive report used as a key reference tool for informing business strategy. Using Barbie as an example, the research showed just how sentimental Barbie is to different generations, and so this informed all the creative marketing techniques used to promote the film.

5. Improving the bottom line

There is no doubt that market research does require investment, but businesses can expect to see long term gain by implementing a data-led strategy. A business that fully understands their market landscape and can make well-informed decisions based on data acquired through research will deliver products and campaigns that better resonate with their consumers.

Market research offers businesses the chance to take a comprehensive look at how their brand is viewed by its consumers and use that insight to build loyalty and attract new buyers. If this Barbie can understand the importance of market research, so can you!

Holly Kidd | Account manager

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