Ipsos Encyclopedia - Usage & Attitude Surveys (U&A)

​A usage and attitude (U&A) study involves research which aims to 'understand a market' and identify growth opportunities by answering questions on whom to target, with what and how.


A usage and attitude (U&A) study involves research which aims to 'understand a market' and identify growth opportunities by answering questions on whom to target, with what and how². This fundamental type of study is useful for identifying the linkages among usage behaviours and opinions. U&A's typically are done in a very customised way and, depending on the business objectives, generally include some or all of the following:

  1. 'Market sizing' (e.g. category penetration, usage frequency, etc.) 
  2. 'General category understanding' (e.g. who uses, what/when/where /how, category dissatisfactions, etc.) 
  3. Understanding brands (brand penetration, brand perceptions, brand choice drivers, etc.)
  4. Information for targeting (e.g. attitudinal or behavioural segmentations)

Ipsos Point Of View:

U&As are useful in providing clients with a foundational understanding of the markets in which they operate. However U&A research can be plagued by a lack of actionability. Many U&A's suffer from one or more of the following issues:

  1. No precise definition of business objectives, i.e. no clear idea of how results of the U&A will be used once results are available.
  2. Because of lack of precise business objectives, U&A's can become inflexible 'mega surveys' which are slow and do not allow for incremental learning.
  3. Long non-engaging questionnaires which erode the validity of the answers. Data quality is a problem for surveys that go beyond the 25 minutes: satisficing responses increase, there is more cheating & skipping sections and respondents start perceiving it as too long. This is particularly problematic for categories with a large competitive set of products or services.
  4. Most U&A's collect information via standard surveys only. In particular, when it comes to 'behaviours', this approach has its limitations in terms of what people can remember; some information can only be collected accurately when measured in the moment and/or via observation.

In view of the above, Ipsos has developed a new, more insightful, approach for conducting U&A's which addresses the above issues and which integrates other sources of information besides survey data. Key features of the new approach are:

Insight focused

We work with the client to understand the specific application of the results (i.e. new market opportunity, competitive understanding, drivers of usage for branding campaign, etc.). Hypotheses should drive the process step by step.

It uses a modular & flexible approach which allows for incremental decision making

In our new approach we don't start from a big mega survey. Rather, we use a modular and interactive approach. As such, insights come in incrementally and faster than with the traditional mega survey approach.

The process

The deconstructed way of running U&A always should start with an Exploration phase understanding what is already known and which information is really needed by the client. The defined Business Objective of the client is always the key guideline for this step, ideally delivered in a workshop format. The core module will then come up with first insights on the most burning U&A questions – in the majority of cases this will be a DA survey. Moving on in the process which needs tight interaction with the client this core part will be followed by a module delivering incremental insights and probably another deep dive approach afterwards. The key element in here is the in-between discussion with the client to reflect if the defined next step is still the right one to gather the relevant information for the client to define next steps. The whole process is, as mentioned above, hypothesis driven and should be able to deliver higher actionability.

Increased validity of (core) survey results by using mobile friendly - device agnostic surveys

  • The survey length is limited to a maximum of 15 mins, so we avoid the issues with long questionnaires described above
  • We survey respondents on the device they want, allowing both for interviews on a mobile and PC. As a result, we can now fully reach certain target audiences which are difficult to survey on PC only (e.g. young adults, mothers with babies, and ethnic groups).
  • Mobile phones allow us to gather information 'in the moment' and use pictures and videos to enrich the insights

Data agnostic  

  • We take advantage of structured as well as unstructured data (e.g. social intelligence)
  • The deconstructed U&A should always apply approaches with best fit for the respective hypotheses (e.g. using pop-up communities, diaries, …)
  • The goal is to use any other type of data that can bring the right insights (ethnography, Big data, etc.)

Use of targeted advanced analytics

Traditional U&A's are often only descriptive in nature. In our new U&A approach we use advanced analytics to unlock the best insights from the data. The analytics we used are targeted to answer specific business questions.

Below please find an overview on the single steps and more detailed description:

A modular decision-oriented approach with fit for purpose steps

Consumer & Shopper