Usage and attitude study (U&A): what does it mean?

Anna Raventós

What is a usage and attitude study?

A usage and attitude study (U&A) is a type of descriptive market research known as a baseline study, which analyzes the uses and attitudes of the consumer in a market. It examines the consumer’s relationship with the category in detail, identifying what, how, where, when, and why they buy and consume your product and brand and those of your competitors. These valuable insights are essential for market expansion and, therefore, for new product development.

usage and attitude research guide

What can brands evaluate with a U&A research study?

In a U&A, researchers analyze consumer behavior quantitatively, sizing both purchase and consumption variables and the motivations that lead to that purchase and consumption. Therefore, a U&A study evaluates the category, brand, and consumer. Specifically:

✓ Category analysis: products purchased, frequency of purchase and consumption patterns, purchase motivations and barriers, consumption occasions, formats, place of purchase, and for whom they buy.

✓ Brand health: brand awareness (spontaneous and suggested), brands purchased (last x months and most frequently), and brand image.

✓ Consumer analysis: consumer and buyer profile and consumer segmentation.

Chocolate snacks trends 2023 report

How do you conduct a usage and attitude study?

When carrying out a study of uses and attitudes, it’s important to define:

a) Specific objectives: Starting from the consumer behavior analysis, it’s necessary to define the specific objectives according to the purpose of the research. For example, if you want to carry out a study to identify new opportunities on special dates such as Mother’s/ Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc., it would be necessary to analyze not only the linkage of the category to these dates but also to identify behaviors about the percentage of celebration of each of the dates, as well as what consumers look for and value when including chocolate in these celebrations.

b) The market: What are the current market players, both at the category and brand level, always taking into account both direct and indirect competition at the category level, so it’s necessary to keep in mind and consider including in the study the possible cannibalization of the category under investigation.

c) The target audience: Depending on the specific objective, such as new product launches, finding new market niches, etc., we propose a baseline study that includes both consumers and non-consumers. Including non-consumers allows us to know, on the one hand, the consumer motivations, i.e. what the consumer needs/ wants, and, on the other hand, the barriers to the category or brand, thus obtaining the consumer insights necessary to find new consumer levers.

d) The sample: For the sample, it’s essential to have a minimum of n=400 cases to have a sufficient model for analysis. If a reading of results for a specific target (age, gender, area, consumer of brand x, etc.) is desired, it would be necessary to expand the sample, having a minimum of n=100 cases for the selected subgroup or sub-target. To ensure the desired sample of analysis by subgroups, it’s necessary to establish quotas to obtain the proposed model.

f) The questionnaire: Once the above points have been defined, the next step is the development of the questionnaire. It’s essential to be clear about the objectives so that, in the case of an initial baseline study, the development of the questionnaire would be carried out from scratch. Whereas, in the case of an updated study, i.e., repetition of a U&A to update the data, the questionnaire should be kept to make a comparison, thus having evolutionary data.

In the case of an initial baseline study, it’s necessary to collect the information available from the brand to have a correct contextualization, both of the category and the brands to be included, as well as the image attributes, motivations, etc…, making sure to speak to the consumer in their language. In case of not enough information on the category, it would be necessary to carry out a previous exploratory study through qualitative research.

Examples of U&A studies

To learn how some of our clients have carried out U&A studies and the results obtained thanks to the strategies implemented based on consumer insights. Continue reading to gain a deeper understanding of usage and attitude research.

CASE 1. Brand image improvement

A leading brand in the FMCG market detected that consumers had lost connection with their brand. Faced with this situation, the company considered a change in the choice of brand ambassador, so they launched a Usage and Attitude study, Brand Health and Ad trackings, and several advertising Post-Tests. The data from the survey showed that one of the celebrities had a 90% affinity with the brand, but 75% of the audience was against the type of advertising used. Based on these results, a communication plan was drawn up to help bring the brand closer to consumers. This proximity resulted in a 20% increase in sales compared to the previous year.

CASE 2. New target repositioning

Faced with falling sales, a multinational dairy products company decided to reformulate its communication strategy and use an approach based on the support of its “healthy” brands to differentiate itself within the massified dairy products category.

To this end, the company conducted several U&A studies, Exploratory PhaseConcept Test, and Product Test, in order to identify the consumption habits of its target audience, as well as their relationship with its brand. Insights that led the brand to redefine its target, as well as the design and launch of two new pilot products. A redefinition that ended up giving the brand an increase of 4 points of penetration in the global market.

Discover usage patterns, purchasing habits, and consumers’ attitudes toward products in your category with the U&A study. Conduct today a usage and attitudes study with our smart insights platform!

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