Part 2. MM4XL Tools > 1. Strategic Tools > Brand Switch > How to Run Brand Switch Analyst

Brand Switch Analyst

How to Run Brand Switch Analyst

It's easy to get up to speed with MM4XL in a matter of seconds:

  1. Select the MM4XL tool you want to work with from the toolbar.
  2. Click the Example button on the form. This opens an example sheet with data for the tool you are using.
  3. With your mouse, select the data sets as explained in the example sheet, then click the OK button to print the report.

There is one main window where the analysis is fine-tuned and then everything runs automatically.

Important Note:
When you open this tool for the first time, if a pop-up form appears that prompts you to enter a password, simply click the Cancel button. The tool will then start. This form appears because MM4XL interacts with an Excel control routine. This is not a harmful situation.

Data Input

It is recommended to use as input data to Brand Switch Analyst, either sales data, in value or units, or market shares for several competing brands over a time horizon as broad as possible. In short, the input data matrix looks like the one below.

Brand Switch Software Estimates Customer Loyalty and Retention from Sales Performance Data

Let us use an example. Suppose in a town of 1000 people there are only three bakeries: Center Bread, Warm Bread, and Every Bread. Their sales values for 10 months are shown above (this is a short series we use for saving space while still supplying the whole information needed for reproducing the case study. Longer series are to be preferred). The management of Center Bread seeks insight in the shift of clients among the three bakeries, and the data in the colored region of the table above is the input range to Brand Switch Analyst.

  • Select the data range with your mouse first and then call Brand Switch Analyst, which is designed to automatically recognize the pre-selected area as the data input range. From here, you only need to select the output range.
  • The first row and the first column of any table are automatically recognized as labels.
  • The data range does not accept non-numeric or missing values (use zeros for the latter case).

User Interface

The picture below shows the user interface to Brand Switch Analyst. Everything is kept very simple.

  • The Data range field is where you select the input data values, the colored region in the matrix of our example.
  • The Output cell is the upper left cell of the range from where printing of the analysis output begins.
  • Job title is where you can assign a title to your analysis. The title is then used in the maps and at the top of the report.
  • The 3-tab multi-page allows users to define several options related to the output and the algorithm, respectively, the tabs Maps and Reports and the tab Solver.

Brand Switch Software Estimates Customer Loyalty and Retention from Sales Performance Data

Place the mouse pointer over the labels of the Brand Switch Analyst dialog box, and a short description is displayed for a few seconds.

Reports user selections

The Reports panel shows controls related to Market share and Solver. Check the box Brand switch rates in value if you want to translate the switch percentages into values (see also the Brand Switch Matrix chapter). The checkbox Forecast t+1 in % prints one line of values below the Market share matrix (see picture in Data Output). The forecast projects market shares applying Markov processes. Simply selecting and copying down can project later values. See below for more about forecasting.

Brand Switch Analyst applies quadratic programming and Markov processes. The latter is a concept from mathematics that has received much attention, for its ability to describe brand-switching phenomena and to predict market share* PAMS at some future date. The method goes back to the early 1900's, and its first application was for predicting the movement of gas particles in a closed chamber. Since then, many other applications followed and in the 60's, marketing came to focus its attention on Markov processes. Today, thanks to Excel and Solver, it has been possible to automate the complex quadratic programming algorithm behind Brand Switch Analyst.

The Solver checkboxes are used for printing the standard Solver reports. For more details about these reports you should refer to the Solver User Manual. Each report is printed on a new sheet. Be aware that checking these boxes may produce a considerable number of new sheets because the optimization algorithm used to solve the quadratic programming model behind the estimation of switch values starts Solver recursively. This means that for each optimization a new model is tested and a new series of Answer, Sensitivity, and Limits reports is printed. With all three options checked a model that re-iterates five times produces 15 new sheets.

Solver user selections

The page below shows controls related to the programming model. On the left side Solver parameters are the same as used in the original Solver user dialog. You should refer to the Solver User Manual for more detail of these values. Precision and Tolerance do not share the meaning one would intuitively attribute to them. Read the Solver manual for further details, however you should not worry too much about these values. The default values set by Brand Switch Analyst are viable for most problems.

Brand Switch Software Estimates Customer Loyalty and Retention from Sales Performance Data

Should your model require more time (Max time) or iterations, Solver will prompt for your answer. Click either Continue or Stop when the pop-up window below is displayed, it does not matter to Brand Switch Analyst, which will reach an optimal solution, if you so choose.

Brand Switch Software Estimates Customer Loyalty and Retention from Sales Performance Data

Check the first option in the frame Algorithm re-iterations if you want to find an optimal solution to your model. Otherwise tell Brand Switch Analyst how many times to repeat the optimization algorithm. This last option may help you to cut the time needed to reach an acceptable solution.

Watch the Excel status bar in the left far lower corner of your monitor. You will see messages flowing, which briefly explain the kind of operation Brand Switch Analyst is performing at that moment.

The Add New constraint button is not active. This function button has been added by MarketingStat for future development. This utility will allow the setting of additional rules to the quadratic model, but we await the comments of our customers before implementing this new function.

Maps user selections

The following page shows the user interface and hosts controls related to the charts (maps) in printed output.

Brand Switch Software Estimates Customer Loyalty and Retention from Sales Performance Data

In the upper frame, check Print all switch maps if you want to print one map for each product in your analysis model. So, for instance, a seven-product input range produces seven charts, similar to the one below.

Brand Switch Software Estimates Customer Loyalty and Retention from Sales Performance Data

In this same frame, checking Change color by map assigns a different background color to each chart. The option Group maps consolidates all charts in one single (grouped) picture, while the Cascade maps option places ungrouped charts in a cascade form.

Select the consolidated maps with your right mouse button,then select Grouping and Ungroup. The maps will then appear as stand-alone, normal Excel charts editable in the usual way. An alternative method is also available. Select all pictures (charts and shapes) that you want to consolidate using the Shift+MouseClick, then Right-Click with your mouse on the selected pictures, and then select Grouping and Group. Consolidated pictures can be moved around MSOffice applications much easier than single shapes.

Alternatively, you may only want to Map a single product. Click the big button on the right side to display the window pictured below. Select the product you want to draw one single map for and several options in the Maps multipage will automatically be deactivated. Check the Print all switch maps box to reactivate them.

Brand Switch Software Estimates Customer Loyalty and Retention from Sales Performance Data

Use the Map one product only option to prevent Excel from eating up your system resources when printing lots of graphics. See below in Known Problems for additional information.

The lower frame of the Maps page hosts controls related to map labels. Input the Font size in the textbox for the font that you want to use in the map. This option is useful when handling crowded maps.

The Show map labels as allows you to customize the values placed in the map. The picture below shows all available alternatives. The default value is (To-From), which shows the difference between sales lost to one competitor, less the sales won from that same competitor, for the product at the top of the chart.

Brand Switch Software Estimates Customer Loyalty and Retention from Sales Performance Data

Finally, the Hide intermediary sheets checkbox can be used to shield the data needed to draw the maps, which are printed on a separate sheet.

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