Monday, February 13th, 2012
By Ben Johnson
Is social media research easy to do? Must you be a category expert to get significant insights out of it? Well, I know nothing about hair care products so what better way to demonstrate the power of social media research.
Let’s look at a few leading brands to disentangle brand specific trends from industry wide trends. We have gathered tens of thousands of verbatims from all over the internet and cleaned, scored and categorized opinions about Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essences, and Pantene. The data is provided using a 5 point scale going back to September 2010.
Two questions spring to mind. First, why was the sentiment for Pantene so much lower than its competitors in the fall of 2010 and second, what caused the sentiment to rise so quickly through to May of 2011?
Perhaps because of the low sentiment, in the spring of 2010 Pantene completed a multi-million dollar investment in market research and R&D, and rolled out a large brand shift. They reduced their product line by about a third, removed their 2-in-1 lines, brought out new formulas and redesigned their branding around 4 main types of hair. Despite their efforts, Pantene seemed unable to stop their customer base from being eroded by competition from new in-store and value brands as consumers sought to tighten their belts in the midst of economic downturn. The effort was not the success the company had envisioned.
So why the rebound? Let’s understand the composition of the shift.
We should note that it is not so much the case that Pantene’s initiative upset customers as it failed to resonate with them. This can be seen by a change in the distribution of sentiment from one predominantly blasé to a more positive composition. So what drove this change? The factors which drive an individual’s decisions are too numerous to provide a definitive all-encompassing answer. Unemployment fell, weather shifted, and myriad other statistics changed, but that does not mean our analysis is without traction. If one takes the time to look, one can find useful and salient points. Such as this:
Here we see the sentiment for coupons in conjunction with Pantene, Herbal Essences and Head & Shoulders. The graph speaks for itself but, if you are still not convinced, the correlation between coupon sentiment for Pantene and overall sentiment is 0.89 . In all their concerns over new competition and their attempts to fine-tune their product, they didn’t see the forest for the trees. The people at Pantene were too concerned with what a person wanted in a shampoo and not enough with what consumers were looking for in general in these tough times, a good deal. But hey, what do I know? I’m a social media research expert, not a hair care expert.