Tracksuit, a New Zealand-based brand tracking startup, wants to take on traditional market research players by offering a more affordable, accessible brand insights tool.
"Market research and brand tracking has been around for a long time, and it usually consists of a consultant coming in on a quarterly or biannual basis with a 100-page slide deck and a lot of complex data that looks behind not forward," Matt Herbert, co-founder and co-CEO of Tracksuit, told TechCrunch, noting that most market research services have been reserved for enterprise-level companies, leaving smaller and mid-sized companies with less access to such insights.
"With Tracksuit, we wanted to make an affordable, always-on, easy-to-use way of accessing these insights."
Tracksuit launched in 2021 with an intuitive dashboard that tracks metrics like brand awareness, consideration, preference and usage, and measures them against a company's competitive set. It's a software-as-a-service product with a flat fee that Herbert says is 10x cheaper than the current standard.
Tracksuit's tool now tracks insights for more than 1,300 brands across New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and, most recently, the United States. The company recently closed $5 million in its first external round, and will use the money to expand further into the U.S. market. Tracksuit made its first hire in New York City in November, and is building a 10-person team there to support expansion.
The round, led by Blackbird, also included participation from Shasta Ventures, Icehouse Ventures, Ascential and brand consultant Mark Ritson.
“Strong brands are the difference between good companies and great companies – whether they're selling physical products or software," said Phoebe Harrop, a partner at Blackbird, in a statement. "The magic of Tracksuit is giving companies across every industry a common language for measuring, talking about and investing in brand health."
"A common language." That's what Herbert told TechCrunch Tracksuit is trying to achieve -- a standard for evaluating, understanding and communicating the value of brands.
The startup is targeting mid-sized, growing consumer brands across food and beverage, FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods), retail, direct-to-consumer and financial services. Herbert said half of its customers come from the existing brand tracking market, but the other half is a new segment entirely that has previously not been served by the market research industry. Some key customers today include Made by Nacho, Charity: Water and Athletic Brewing Company.
Herbert says the strong demand for the company's product suggests a shift in how consumer businesses approach marketing. They're focused "less on immediate conversion and more on building long-term growth through highly effective, creative marketing," he said.
Tracksuit gathers insights by surveying target customers around the globe. It uses those surveys to set up a brand's fundamentals: What's the total addressable market? How well is the brand known, how well is it considered, where is it most preferred? What do people really think and feel about the brand, and how does that shift over time?
From there, Tracksuit goes deeper.
"Each brand will have strategic pillars or value propositions that they want to own, so we help those brands track how well they are performing against those brand pillars and how well their comms and advertising and marketing is shifting the needle on those perceptions and attributes for the consumer," said Herbert, as he showed me a demo of Tracksuit's "unprompted imagery" feature, a word cloud that shows which words come to mind for a specific brand, positioned next to a similar word cloud for that brand's biggest competitor.
All of these insights help brands ask the big question of What's the job to be done? It's hard to sell to someone who hasn't heard of your brand, so maybe Tracksuit's insights could help a brand learn that it has to increase awareness before anything else.
"What is the opportunity to grow and where should that be focused in your advertising, communications and marketing strategy?" said Herbert.