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Introducing Swayable Tracker

iPad showing a brand comparison: purchase intent graph

At the core of marketing is understanding what consumers think, then working out how to influence it. That’s why brand tracking - basically an opinion poll of consumers about your brand - is critical in any marketing data and insights stack. Without it, teams don’t know what consumers think of their brand or what trends they need to respond to. 

The challenge with traditional brand tracking has been that it’s slow, expensive, and imprecise. As a result, it may take months to recognize a trend or opportunity that requires an immediate response or get insights that should shape how campaigns are developed, executed, or targeted today, instead of next season. 

These limitations were a significant driver behind the early 2010s rise of social listening tools and the rise of the social platforms themselves. Many hoped that real-time access to social conversations could fill the gap, letting marketers and brand managers finally understand reactions to campaigns and events as they happen. Unfortunately, even during the heyday of open access and rapid growth, it became obvious that social media isn’t real life - that is, it can present a highly distorted perspective on public opinion. Sentiments dominating social media discussion often reflect nothing more than small segments of vocal, motivated posters.

Throwing Coffee Machines Off Balconies

In one example in 2017, Keurig faced what looked like a marketer’s worst nightmare. The Massachusetts-based team woke up one day in November to discover they were the top trending brand on Twitter, as thread after thread of viral posts highlighted angry consumers destroying their coffee machines, many under the hashtag #BoycottKeurig. Many of the posters were fans of Sean Hannity, incensed that the company had pulled advertising from his FOX News show (a move they’d made in response to scandals about the host’s unethical behavior). For Keurig, this was the most negative social listening signal you could imagine - complaints pushing the brand to the top of the trending charts - yet it turned out the sentiment had no real foothold in broader public opinion. Sales were completely unaffected. Brand love in the real world was strong. Sean Hannity fans were vocal and able to dominate the online conversation. But they were unrepresentative.

Representative or Real-Time: Pick One

There was no way around it. Marketers began to understand that social listening, although a valuable tool to keep a finger on the pulse of online conversation, cannot offer representative insights into real-life consumer attitudes in the marketplace. That left them with a difficult choice: use representative brand trackers (getting imprecise, delayed results - and paying a lot for them) or use real-time analysis in social listening (knowing it has no predictable relationship to the consumer public). Most chose some combination, knowing that this left them with significant gaps in their knowledge and the ever-present risk of unwelcome surprises.

Coffee brand Keurig was the top trending brand on Twitter in 2017. However, sales and brand love were unaffected.

Have Your Representative Cake and Eat it Too (in Real-Time)

Swayable entered the scene to solve this once and for all with the launch of its Tracker. Using sophisticated cloud-hosted population modeling and unprecedented reach into a vast, representative cross-section of American and global consumers, it finally became possible to track what real consumers think in real-time. Each customized Swayable Tracker surveys 12,000 consumers per year (1,000 per month), using an always-on sampling approach, with real-time analysis performed in the cloud, detecting significant changes that occur week-to-week - or in cases of larger change, even intra-week.

Tracking Pumpkin Spice Latté season

As an example of this, Starbucks began promoting its Pumpkin Spice Latté in Fall 2023, just before the start of the season, which starts September 23. Traditional brand trackers, at best, might register a signal of increased awareness months later, if at all, once half-yearly or quarterly analyses are complete. Swayable showed awareness rising 4 percentage points within days of the start of the season. Driving this, as always, is both marketing and seasonal media coverage, along with the broader set of conversations in the community.

Consumer awareness of Pumpkin Spice Latte campaigns spiked by over 4 points at the start of the fall season, when Starbucks began promotion for it
Consumer awareness of Pumpkin Spice Latte campaigns spiked by over 4 points at the start of the fall season, when Starbucks promoted its iconic hot drink.

The business case for marketing of course is that it expands the purchasing funnel: building awareness, consideration and purchase intent, to drive sales. The natural question is whether the increased awareness also flows through to increased consumer demand. Luckily, we can see that in Swayable Tracker, too: viewing the “purchase intent” metric shows the proportion of consumers who report that they plan to buy the product. Major consumer brands configure Swayable Tracker in this way to measure the metrics that count for their business success - taking advantage of the fully flexible definitions of both metrics and segmentation breakdowns.

Purchase intent for the Starbucks espresso drink followed awareness closely from Sept - Nov
Purchase intent for the Starbucks espresso drink followed awareness closely.
The proof is in the sales

Finally, of course, at the bottom of the funnel is sales. There are no prizes for guessing what a 4 to 6 point gain in intent to purchase leads to. Although its sales figures aren’t released publicly, Starbucks posted a substantial gain in purchases as tracked by independent analyses, reported in the press.

A Reuters article that reads: Starbucks gets US sales bump as Pumpkin Spice Latte returns
Marketing exists because purchase intent leads to purchase.

Contact to schedule a live demonstration and see how Swayable Tracker can work for your brand. Implementation can be done in just a few days.