Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the Famous Meat Company was a manufacturer of processed meat products. The company had developed a new imitation meat product that provided the consumer with nearly the taste of much more expensive meat but at a relatively low price. The new product was also much more healthful (i.e. has less cholesterol) and more convenient to prepare than the meat for which it could be a substitute. Its disadvantage was that it was imitation and had to be so labeled.
Because the product was a genuine innovation, major consumer advertising expenditures would be needed to introduce it nationally. It was considered essential that the product be “positioned” appropriately in the advertising to present the product’s advantages in optimal terms. The team assigned to the project consisted of an advertising agency executive and the company’s advertising manager and research director. Working with various other people, the team arrived at four different ways of positioning the product in its advertising economy (less expensive than the real thing); convenience (easier to prepare); healthier (less cholesterol); and better than the real thing (because of its higher value for the money, nutrition and convenience).
The team agreed that these were the major ways the product could be positioned in the advertising but they wanted to test each of these four positions to get consumers reactions. To do this, each positioning would be represented by a stimulated print advertisement (an 8 by 11 inch board) that contained a headline, a visual of the package and two use applications, plus copy supporting the specific positioning.
There was disagreement as to how the research should be conducted issues of concern to the team included how the test stimuli (i.e. the boards) should be presented to respondents, what sample design and size to use, and how the results should be interpreted.
The advertising agency executive suggested doing three focus group interviews in Atlanta, each with 10 women in the 21 – 39 year age group, whom he considered the best prospects for the product. He suggested showing all four boards to each group and having them discuss what they liked or dislike about each positioning which positioning they preferred and whether their preferred positioning would influence tem by to buy the product. In addition, from behind a one-way observation mirror in the interviewing room, he wanted to watch the women’s reactions to each board. As he phrased it, he could tell from the light in their eyes which positioning would be best.
The advertising manager, who was the new to the company, proposed using interviews in shopping malls about 100 interviews would be needed for each positioning. He expressed concern about showing more than one positioning to a respondent, he pointed out that the response o the convenience positioning for example, might depend upon whether the respondent had previously seen the economy positioning or the healthier positioning. As a compromise, he suggested that each respondent see two positionings, the order of presentation being alternated among respondents. Respondents would be asked what they liked and disliked about the positioning and which they preferred. A scale question would measure the extent to which their preferred positioning might influence their buying the new product.
The advertising manager also suggested at least four markets be used for geographic dispersion. He specifically proposed 24 interviews with women 21 – 35 years of age and 24 interviews with women 36 – 49 years of age in each of four cities: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta. In each city quotas would be assigned in the following manner:
Number of Interviews
Positions and Their Order Age 21 – 35 Age 36 – 49
Economy convenience 2 2
Economy, healthier 2 2
Economy, better 2 2
Convenience, economy 2 2
Healthier, economy 2 2
Better, economy 2 2
Convenience, healthier 2 2
Convenience, better 2 2
Healthier, better 2 2
Healthier convenience 2 2
Better, convenience 2 2
Better, healthier 2 2
In this proposal, each positioning was listed a total of six times and was to be shown first in three of the listings and second in the three listings. Each time a positioning and listed, it would be shown to four women, two in the 35 and under age group, and two in the older than 35 age group. Since there were six listings for each positioning, each positioning would be shown to 24 women in each market and to a total of 96 women in all your markets.
The research director suggested a different sample design. She mentioned that the company had substantial experience with Market Facts Inc. controlled panel samples. In recent, more than 100 new product concept studies had been done in a comparable way using Market Facts controlled panel samples. These samples had consisted of 500 adults (90 percent female) who were representative of the nation’s population in terms of age, income, geographic dispersion and so on.
Based upon the 100 plus studies already carried out, the company had developed some norms that they used to evaluate the potential success of anew product concept. These studies indicated that if at least 60 percent of a controlled panel sample said they would definitely or probably buy the new product based on the new product concept, then the new product would probably be successful. She recommended the same approach here, using four separate samples of 500 each with each sample being shown only one of the four positionings. This way, the research director emphasized, they would be able to accomplish two purposes: determine which of the four positionings was best: and evaluate the absolute potential of each positioning relative to the 60 percent success norm.