Understanding Key Drivers Analysis

golden key among silver keys

Most people are likely familiar with what key drivers are in general. Usually, they describe any leading factor that can affect the performance of a business. And usually, key drivers tend to have more impact than other factors so a business doesn’t have to measure all influences.

In marketing research, key drivers seek to understand what qualities, attributes, aspects, or whatever you’d like to call them, influence a consumer’s purchase intent most. Key drivers analysis then depicts the performance of attributes specific to a brand or product. As a result, understanding what your key drivers are and what they mean can be very important. Key drivers analysis is also a great way to identify areas of improvement specific to your brand or product, as you’ll see.

Key Drivers Analysis Explained

So as you can probably tell, key drivers are more than just metrics and can be used as a method of analysis. We often incorporate a key drivers analysis when it comes to testing any product or creative concepts. There are many processes for executing this type of analysis. The one we use incorporates a relative weights analysis to estimate the importance of correlated attributes typically found in survey data.

Unlike a standard regression analysis, a relative weight takes into account both direct and indirect effects, which make measuring the attributes more accurate. Then, the relative weights are rescaled to percentages, making it easy to communicate the importance of each attribute and take action on them in a meaningful way.

As noted, key drivers analysis enables you to empirically identify the metrics that have the greatest impact on key outcomes so you can focus your time and resources refining the areas that matter most. It all starts with understanding the importance of specific attributes—there are two ways to go about this:

  1. Stated Importance: Asking consumers what’s important to them by having them rate attributes on a five-point scale.
  2. Derived Importance: This form of importance is more often used in a key drivers analysis as it takes into account the relative importance of attributes independently (not all attributes are measured the same way in a consumer’s mind).

Whether you’re looking at stated or derived importance, attributes need to be translated in a consumer-friendly language to ensure an accurate interpretation of a study.  

A Better Way to Identify Areas of Refinement

Understanding a key drivers analysis is quick and painless. Recall when we assess the performance of attributes, we’re also rating their relative importance. We use a grid to illustrate the results:

image of a key drivers analysis grid

This provides a visual and easily interpretable view of the performance of key drivers. This view also shows how a concept is performing relative to certain attributes while also showing you how important it is to the consumer—so you know what areas to focus on first—or if you should focus on them at all. A key drivers analysis is thus great for the prioritization of focus areas, especially if internal resources or capabilities are a factor.

Combine these insights with heatmaps or open-ends related to concept testing and you’ll also learn how the key drivers or attributes can be improved upon. Findings from a key drivers analysis are also great to incorporate into messaging and tactics. If you know a consumer places more importance on the durability of a product rather than its uniqueness, it signals to stress the durable qualities first in messaging.

To learn more about our process for key drivers analysis, check out this infographic which features a screenshot of a key drivers analysis specific to our 24-hour concept testing solution.

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