Saturday, June 20, 2009

Measuring Attention and Packaging Design

A national cereal company has developed a new, healthy cereal for teens. Currently, the company is considering two package designs and would like to assess the effectiveness of each package design in getting the attention of teenagers.

Independent and dependent variables, treatment groups, the design and control for extraneous factors.
Percy (2008, p. 256) notes that mothers are key decision makers for family health and eating habits. Teenager awareness and acceptance, and mother acceptance will jointly determine the purchase decision. Our task is to test the effectiveness of two alternative package designs in getting teenager attention. The dependent variable is teenager attention. The independent variable is package design.

Wilson and Ogden (2004, p. 36) define an influential as an opinion leader, and observe “that people follow the advice of someone they trust and has knowledge on the subject.” We want teenagers who eat cereal but who are also influentials. They will be our subjects. This is a new product and the most important group to reach in this introductory phase is the influentials.

McDaniel and Gates (p. 114) also recommend “Influentials.” They say these people are two to five years ahead of the curve and have significant influence among their peers. They say, “Recruiting influentials is particularly useful when a marketer is trying to determine to launch a new product….” Brooks (2006, pp 31-2) agrees and further says, “A growing body of consumer research suggests the 60-second conversation is dethroning the 30-second ad.”

We will have two experimental groups and one control group. Experimental group one will view package design one. Physiological Measurements will be made to monitor their response to the package design. These measurements can show interest and arousal levels (see McDaniel and Gates, 2008, p 192). The treatment is to show them the design. Likewise for experimental group two but for package design two instead. The control group won't be shown either proposed design.

There are problems with measuring attention because it may change during the testing process and also the subjects know they are being tested for it (see Boyd and Westfall, 1964, pp 105, 111). A control group can help compensate for this. The control group will share the exact same experience as the two treatment groups, except they will not be exposed to a package design.

They will, however, be read the same statement about the new product and package designs and that they will be measured. McDaniel and Gates (p. 219) note that the control group is not subject to treatment, in this case exposure to one of the package designs. Their participation can be used to dampen extraneous factors, like the anticipation of knowing they will be measured.

Experimental design and conduct of the experiment.
The steps are

  1. Three groups of influentials will be randomly selected

  2. Physiological Measurements will be made of each group

  3. Each group will be read each the same statement about the new product

  4. For the control group, the post measurement will be taken

  5. For the two treatment groups, show each their respective packaging designs only and take measurements

The research design is a True Experiment Design (see McDaniel and Gates, 2008, p 219), the Before-and-After with control design (p. 219). The test subjects should be assigned to each group randomly to control extraneous effects. The experiment should be held in a lab for high internal validity (p. 211).

Boyd, Harper and Ralph Westfall (1964). Marketing Research Text and Cases. Richard Irwin.

Brooks, Steve (November 2006). How to Build Buzz. Restaurant Business. Retrieved on June 19, 2009 from EBSCOHOST.

McDaniels, C and R Gates (2008). Marketing Research Essentials. John Wiley.

Percy, Larry (2008). Strategic Integrated Marketing Communications. Butterworth-Heinemann.

Wilson, Laurie and Ogden, Joseph (2004). Strategic Communications Planning, 4th Ed. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

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