Dependent variables

These are the factors that are measured in assessing the outcome of the experiment. Commonly they are sales measures such as factory shipments, retail store audit data, consumer panel data, levels of awareness, trial, repeat purchase and distribution levels. It is helpful to collect more than one type of data in evaluating the outcome of the experiment, since this will increase confidence in the measures and may also prove diagnostic.

For example, if both product penetration and advertising awareness are collected it may be that a high level of awareness is associated with a low level of penetration. This would indicate that the advertising is not communicating a desirable message. Alternatively, a low level of awareness may be accompanied by a low level of penetration and here the problem may simply be insufficient advertising. If repeat purchasing levels are also taken, this adds further insight into performance. High levels of penetration accompanied by low levels of repeat purchase suggest the advertising is communicating desirable messages, raising expectations that the product is not delivering. Alternatively, low levels of penetration accompanied by high levels of repeat purchase would indicate that the advertising is probably insufficient, but that once individuals are persuaded to try the product they like it sufficiently to buy it again._

Data is likely to come from one of three sources. The first source is sales data, such as factory shipments and retail audits. In general, factory shipments are not a very satisfactory measure of sales response since they are separated from actual market behaviour by the length of the distribution chain and this can mask market movements. Retail audits are a better indicator of consumer take-up of the product.

The second source of data comprises consumer panel data and repeat purchasing rates. From these two measures an estimate of ultimate brand share can be calculated.

The third type of data is that from 'usage and attitude' studies. These are consumer surveys that measure awareness of the product and its advertising, the extent of trial purchase and usage of the product, repeat purchase, frequency of purchase, amounts purchased, and opinion and attitudes towards the product.

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