Nielsen uses Narrative Analytics to understand Brand Perceptions

Tuesday, December 1 2020 Joicee Lu Categories:

As a leading player in using market insights to predict consumer behavior, Nielsen was interested in how consumer perceptions differed when different companies conducted food recalls and how those perceptions affected the companies’ business performance. The study revealed that managing perceptions is critical to managing the bottom line.

To begin the investigation, Protagonist used Narrative Analytics, powered by machine learning and natural language processing, to reveal the complex attitudes and opinions consumers have about a brand or situation. In our work with Nielsen looking at 3 companies’ food recalls, we identified nine distinct narratives consumers expressed during recall events.  

Using machine learning and NLP techniques, Protagonist was able to measure not only the prominence of each narrative, but also how associated each company was with the different narratives. Those associations provided an interesting look at how brands were perceived differently. The more interesting analysis came next – looking for patterns that connect brand perception to consumer behavior.

As it turns out, the key narrative was one of the smaller ones across the three landscapes: Bring Our Production Home, in which consumers identified overseas production of food as the key to it needing to be recalled. A correlation analysis revealed that one company’s lack of association with that narrative was the difference maker. Consumers were able to more quickly move beyond that company’s recall, and sales rebounded much more significantly than they did for the other companies.

Predicting consumer behavior isn’t easy, but Narrative Analytics provides a useful framework to understand consumer perceptions. By marrying Narrative Analytics insights with company performance data, companies can understand which perceptions most affect their bottom lines. Those insights enable companies to manage consumer perceptions through marketing and PR, and ultimately improve customer loyalty and the bottom line.

To learn more about how Narrative Analytics can help you drive business performance, contact us at