The price is right

Finding research data that is within budget may be solved with price Board, Tim Macer reports.

If price sensitivity and concerns over how to set prices as markets start to drift downwards are your concerns, then Price Board, a new program from MASMI, could provide a short-cut both to understanding what is going on and how to do something about it. Price Board is an end-user program dedicated to handling brand price trade-off (BPTO) data.
Though MASMI is a research agency, and therefore a collector of much of this data, the software product is available under separate licence and you can use it to import your own BPTO data. You gather a lot of data in any BPTO exercise, and it is not the kind of data you can feed into standard MR tab packages. Price Board provides a wizard to define a new project and perform the import. The program largely dictates the data format, though it is a relatively simple structure. You are also allowed to code up a handful of demographic fields, so you could examine price sensitivity by age, region or income group or any other classifier. You can import respondent weights too. However, the program currently lacks any integrated data entry – something MASMI intend to address next year.
The program works both as a straight reporter and a scenario builder. There are several very versatile report views. A ‘segment’ view presents loyalty simply and clearly as rejecters and accepters at any point you choose above or below ‘parity’ – that is, the current market price. It also leads you straight into the price elasticity curves that present well to senior management. In these and most of the charts, it is easy to de-select brands simply by clicking on them, and focus on a few key brands – helpful if you start with 40 competing brands.
The ‘switching’ window gives you a clear view of gains and losses: you can see both the brands where respondents started, and where they went to. It will highlight examples of both down-trading and up-trading too.
Price Board by MASMI
  • Brings BPTO to the fingertips of the researchers and brand strategists
  • Good for both reporting and scenario building
  • Handles decreasing price scenarios too
  • No data capture or data entry capability
  • Busy interface and not much ‘help’
Among other views, the ‘too low rejecter’s’ window is an important addition to help brand managers make sense of price war situations. It lays bare the brand losses or ‘cannibalisation’ that can occur when the price effectively becomes too cheap for purchasers.
The clever stuff begins when you use the scenario planner to push your prices, or your competitors’ up or down. After a quick recalculation, you will then see the imputed effect of these changes, based on statistical extrapolation from the underlying data. Furthermore, scenarios can be optimised for certain objectives (or at least they will be when a glitch in the software is fixed). You can save scenarios, or export and apply them to another datasets, such as the next wave of data.
The program is well thought out, though perhaps presented a little clumsily with its current interface, which would benefit from more priority and discipline in the way options (and sometimes rather obscure ones) are presented. It does have some online help, but not really enough to be useful yet. Still, it is easy to use, and the ability to view changes in real time, and apply filtering and weighting make it a good all-rounder in both analytical and what-if situations, whether prices are going up or down.


Tim Macer writes as an independent specialist and advisor in software for market research. His website is at

Published in Research, the magazine of the Market Research Society, November 2002, Issue 438.
© Copyright Tim Macer/Market Research Society 2002. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission.

Related story: The pressure is on

Follow this link for an examination of the MASMI Price Board software in action at British American Tobacco.
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