How brand research helped lay exceptionally strong foundations for a new ‘customer-led’ brand following a strategic acquisition in the automotive industry.

How brand research helped lay exceptionally strong foundations for a new ‘customer-led’ brand following a strategic acquisition in the automotive industry.

Monday, 26 July 2021 13:00

One of the core principles underlying an effective brand strategy is to understand and align the company’s offering with customers’ needs and preferences. Understanding the discrepancies between what the brand claims it stands for and what customers believe, will help to construct a brand that is more accurately in tune with the audience. Brand research will help you gain deeper insight into your customers which can form the basis of your brand strategy.  

Research can also assist in consolidating views from internal stakeholders pre or post a merger or acquisition. The insights can deliver a richer understanding of the strategy behind creating a new brand name. The goal of research is to gain clarity on how brand performance and brand distinction is perceived by external and internal audiences. Ultimately, we want to uncover the meaning of the brand to those who interact with it in a 360-degree approach. 

Reducing the risks associated with rebranding after a merger or acquisition.

Insights from brand research can help organisations mitigate risk when it comes to rebranding. A rebrand represents considerable investment from a financial and time perspective, not to mention the risk of losing customers who were loyal to your existing brand.  This factor is particularly pertinent when going from a well-known established brand to an unknown new brand. This was the case for one of our past clients - mycar.

The strategic acquisition that made way for a strong new brand in a competitive market.

Continental Automotive Group is a world leader in tyre production. Founded in 1871, Continental is a multinational manufacturer of performance-oriented tyres. The organisation was focused on growth, and as part of that growth strategy, had identified Australia as a growth market. This resulted in the acquisition of Kmart Tyre & Auto Services – one of the largest tyre and auto service chains in Australia, which at the time had 258 branches and more than 1,200 employees.

With the existing brand name linked back to the original owners (Kmart, a brand owned by parent company Wesfarmers), the new owner needed to rebrand. They needed to make a strategic decision on what brand was required to bring this new, heavily service-oriented arm of their business to market.

Making a strategic decision such as this, in a market relatively unfamiliar to the new parent company, needed to be underpinned by research. For Continental Automotive Group, the research was the key to reducing risk by investigating how to retain existing customers and attract new customers in the Australian market.

BrandMatters were engaged to conduct brand research in order to test the market response to the new brand, mycar. The objective was to find a brand the internal team would feel confident with, a name that would drive their business forward and demonstrate that the brand’s strategic direction was aligned to the wants and needs of their customers.

Utilising both qualitative and quantitative research methods, BrandMatters were able to build a deep understanding of what the market valued about the current brand as well as test the identity of the new brand with existing customers.

Brand research enabled the Continental Automotive Group to understand: 

  • Their existing audience – what they valued about the current service/brand/offering.
  • The market – what were the needs of the market.
  • The internal culture – with such a significant workforce within the branch network, it was important to understand what was valued by the employees and stakeholders of the acquired business, and how they should best retain a positive culture through the acquisition and rebrand process.

BrandMatters were able to utilise the information that already existed inside the business. Kmart Tyre and Auto were already invested in the value of brand research and had engaged in brand tracking. Interrogating this information along with discussions with the internal team paved the road to formalising the right positioning for the new brand name - mycar.

Three key forms of brand research were used in this project:

  • Desk research

In this case, quality brand tracking research and competitor analysis was available and proved useful in unpacking insights into existing customer sentiment for the market segment. BrandMatters were able to clearly articulate the new brand positioning through interrogating this existing research.

  • Qualitative research

Internal discussions with key stakeholders were designed to facilitate an understanding of brand perceptions and strategic direction. A number of directions for the new brand were explored and one particular identity resonated strongly with the group.

  • Quantitative research

The quantitative research mined the sentiment of the general population interested in purchasing tyres and car servicing, utilising the existing positioning to help understand the potential of the new brand name. Given the strong network and customer base already established for the Kmart Tyre and Auto brand, it was vital that the new brand did not jeopardise this equity. In this case the quantitative research overwhelmingly supported the new brand direction.

Along the way, the research uncovered some key opportunities for the new brand including a greater focus on digital to make the customer experience more personalised and service seamless.

The new brand has been out in the marketplace for just over 2 years now, and mycar as a brand has been accepted and embraced by the team and consumers. To read more about the mycar brand project – see our case study or read a recent article by CMO magazine.

As mycar continues to grow across Australia, they’ve retained their focus on staying true to their brand positioning, delivering on customer needs above all else and importantly building brand trust along the way.

At BrandMatters, we believe a great brand is based on the right balance of strategic insight and intrinsic design. We love creating new brands for our clients, especially when they are born from insight and are embraced whole-heartedly by the entire team.

If your organisation has recently acquired a new brand, we highly recommend brand research as a tool to mitigate the risk of transitioning brands through the acquisition process. Contact us to discuss your unique situation.