• Hearst Pittsburgh

Using Consumer Research to Navigate a Volatile Market

A rapidly changing market demands adaptive strategies

If you find yourself reevaluating elements of your business strategy these days, you’re not alone. The country is navigating post-pandemic recovery, inflation, supply chain disruptions, rising interest rates, and uncertainty in world affairs. Your customers' and prospects' lives look and feel different. They have totally shaken up their routines (probably more than once), tapped into new interests, and at best, they're skeptical of the current economic outlook. All of this impacts how they evaluate brands and make purchase decisions

In a landscape like this, managing marketing and advertising strategies with guesswork alone can be as costly as it is frustrating. Now is the time to uncover how your target customers' preferences and behaviors have changed, so you can adapt your strategy to communicate and deliver the value they're looking for.


At WTAE Hearst Pittsburgh, we are committed to helping businesses meet their goals, even under extreme circumstances like recessions and pandemics. In the spirit of that commitment, in the coming weeks, we are funding consumer research programs, powered by the experts at Elevate, for a limited number of advertisers.


Elevate customizes research to guide growth strategy

Elevate is an industry-leading group of researchers, data scientists, and creatives who are hyper-focused on local consumer research. They develop, conduct, and analyze large-scale, regional consumer studies, designed to uncover what prospective customers want to see and hear from brands. With their data-driven methodology, they help businesses craft strategies to drive inquiries, purchases, and ROI.


Here's how Elevate leverages research to help brands maintain their momentum even in times of market volatility:

  1. Analyze the Health of the Brand Consumer behavior can change quickly and dramatically in times of uncertainty. Shoppers evaluate brands with an exacting lens to ensure they're getting their money's worth. When consumers reevaluate their spending, the awareness and perception factors that contribute to overall brand health matter more than ever. Elevate conducts surveys and focus groups to analyze a brand and benchmark it against competitors. They determine who within a brand's addressable market recognizes them, who doesn't, and who should. They also map out consumers' paths to purchase to discover and activate the elements of a brand's identity that most impact buying decisions.

  2. Put Ads to the Test When consumer confidence is down across the board, it's crucial for a brand's advertising to tell the stories that create connections and drive action. Prospective buyers carefully analyze the value proposition presented in ads to ensure that their needs and expectations are aligned with the brand offering. Elevate uses advanced assessment tools like heat mapping to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of any given advertisement. They'll put the content and creative to the test so brand managers can move forward with the messages that resonate in the market and ditch the one that don't.

  3. Develop a Data-Driven Media Strategy Competition between brands can get even more intense during times of market uncertainty, as every customer won or lost is critical. The cost for spots, impressions, and clicks can trend upwards, so media plans must perform in order to generate a satisfactory return on investment. Elevate carefully tests performance across ad placements to see just how effective each channel really is and make the most of your media buy.

  4. Establish a Clear Brand Position Whether your brand is positioned as the place for budget-friendly bargains or a premium leader in luxury, finding the sweet spot with pricing and special offers is an on-going challenge that is now exacerbated by factors like the rising cost of supplies and the strain on buyers' wallets. Elevate eliminates the costly trial-and-error with price-sensitivity metrics that reveal exactly, to the penny, how much people are willing to pay, and what promotional offers would get them through your doors.


Activate market research insights with Hearst Pittsburgh

Elevate's brand studies have helped businesses here in southwestern PA and across the country thrive and grow despite challenging market conditions. WTAE Hearst Pittsburgh funds these studies each year for a handful of our clients. We package it together with an advertising campaign that's uniquely tailored to activate the brand study findings, leveraging our full suite of on-air and digital advertising solutions. If you are interested in reviewing additional case studies or learning more about the Elevate process, we'd love to connect! Schedule a 15-minute introduction call with our combined team here.




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