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The Sawtooth Group's I-Factor research tool helps companies connect with consumers on a deeper level

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Kristi Bridges, president and chief creative officer of The Sawtooth Group in Red Bank.
Kristi Bridges, president and chief creative officer of The Sawtooth Group in Red Bank. - ()

Kristi Bridges said that when a brand works with her and her team at Red Bank-based The Sawtooth Group, their consumers are likely not only to spend more, but also can begin to work for them.

“If a brand is smart and can figure out the right consumer insights, they can take advantage of that by having consumers do much of the hard work (of advertising),” she said.

Bridges, president and chief creative officer of The Sawtooth Group, recently purchased the nearly 30-year-old marketing and creative agency after having worked for the company for 20 years.

“The marketplace and the way consumers receive and digest information have changed dramatically over the past few years,” she said. “With such incredible market segmentation going on, with hundreds of platforms in which brands can reach consumers, sometimes brands don’t know how or which platform is best to use for what they want to say to match consumer expectations.”

Additionally, Bridges said, consumers are increasingly demanding better access to and involvement with the growth — or decline — of a brand.

It is therefore essential that brands have a way to effectively and thoughtfully listen and respond to its consumers, she said.

I-Factor, The Sawtooth Group’s proprietary and cost-effective consumer research tool, can inform and guide a company’s messaging and media choices — what to say and where and how to say it — by measuring “irresistibility,” Bridges said.

“Irresistibility is the intangible connection between a brand and a consumer,” Bridges said. “It is what results in that ‘have to have it’ moment, and a feeling that you just have to share.”

According to Bridges, I-Factor studies both quantifiable data and emotional insight using visual metaphors and more than 30 specialized questions to tap into a consumer’s subconscious, or, “where 95 percent of all decisions are made.”

“It is designed to extract what it is consumers feel but cannot put into words,” Bridges said.

I-Factor scores brands on the following: “comprehend,” or a consumer’s understanding of the history of the brand, what its products are and where and how they are made, and its sustainable and ethical business practices; “crave,” or the emotional connection that brands have been able to make with a consumer and how well a consumer can relate; and “craze,” or the passion that consumers have for the brand and how often they are willing to share the brand’s messaging.

“We also can pinpoint specific (demographics) of consumers to understand how it is they interact differently with the brand,” Bridges said. “And, I-Factor not only provides a true barometer of a consumer’s relationship with a brand, but also, can reveal more about a brand’s competition.”

An I-Factor study can be completed and delivered in as little as 30 days, Bridges said.

“Most traditional research studies take three to six months, which, by then, can result in outdated information,” Bridges said.

While The Sawtooth Group has completed a few privately commissioned I-Factor studies, the agency continues to amass public studies of more than 100 popular brands.

“We continue to deepen our expertise to better understand the landscape, and we publish their I-Factor scores to help generate interest,” Bridges said. “For example, we’ve learned that legacy brands, in particular, are struggling to connect with consumers right now, with their I-Factor scores measuring on average 11 percent lower than newer, smaller brands.

“That is really interesting, because it typically takes a long time to build affinity and loyalty for a brand. However, now, you can do that quicker if you can figure out how to connect to consumers with what the brand stands for and what experience you can provide them.”

Bridges hopes that the digital platform will soon become one that brands can use on their own to track data in real-time based on what is happening on the internet and social media daily.

“Things change incredibly quickly and if you can stay on top of that, your brand will have insights that no one else will,” she said.

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