What Is TURF Analysis and How To Use It in Your Customer Research

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mrx glossary turf analysis

In this blog post, learn the basics of a TURF analysis, examples of how it's used in market research, when to use a TURF, the advantages of doing so, potential limitations, and how quantilope can help.   



Table of Contents: 


What is TURF Analysis?

TURF analysis, which stands for Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency Analysis, is the potential impact of a combination of products, features, or marketing actions on consumers' purchase decisions. Through tradeoff decisions, it aims to find the optimal combination of products, services, or features that will appeal to the maximum number of customers and drive the highest overall sales.


While choice can be good for customers - it doesn't follow that a wider choice will always appeal to a wider range of consumers, nor that it will result in more profit for your business. What matters is the nature of that choice in relation to the preferences of your audience.

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Basics of TURF

Below are the basics of running a TURF analysis for your business needs: 


  1. Identify your target market: This is the audience you hope to be selling to, and could be based on demographics, psychographics, buying behaviors, etc. 
  2. Create a list of features: Create a list of all the features and attributes your product or service offers (or, that a new product or service could offer). This might be product colors, scents, sizes, etc. 
  3. Determine respondent preferences: Launch your TURF study and capture feedback to your list of features, in which respondents will make tradeoff decisions between a subset of all features shown across multiple screens (similar to a MaxDiff setup).  
  4. Analyze the data: TURF analysis outputs will show you the difference in reach and frequency as you add on additional features or elements. The charts will show you how many respondents choose a certain combination of features, as well as how many choose that feature individually. 
  5. Identify the optimal combination: Based on your analysis, you'll identify an optimal combination of features that provides the greatest reach and appeal among your target audience. 
  6. Take action: Once you know your optimal combination of features, you can adjust your product offering or marketing strategy to focus only on these features.   

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Examples of TURF analysis in market research 

Below are three examples of how TURF analysis can be used in market research: 


Beverage industry: 

Let's say we're a beverage company and we want to introduce a new line of flavored sparkling water to the market. We run a TURF analysis to identify which flavor combinations will appeal to the largest number of customers within our target market and find that a combination of lemon-lime, strawberry-kiwi, and peach-mango flavors will provide the highest (unduplicated) reach. Unduplicated means we aren't reaching the same consumers twice (i.e. the same consumer that wants lemon-lime also wants strawberry kiwi). 

Beauty industry: 

As another example, let's say we now work in the beauty industry selling skincare products and we want to know which communication tactics reach the largest amount of potential consumers. We run a TURF analysis for our skincare product messaging and find that a mixed-message approach mentioning 'deep-cleansing', 'anti-aging', 'all-natural ingredients', and 'dermatologist recommended' will reach 95% of our target audience. As a result, we launch a new campaign incorporating these messaging tactics into our commercials, magazine ads, and product packaging. 

skincare TURF

Snack industry: 

As a final example, pretend this time that we're a snack company and we want to introduce a new variety pack of chips. First, we need to run a TURF analysis to determine which flavors of chips will be most appealing when combined together in one variety pack. The analysis shows that a combination of four flavors (Sour Cream & Onion, BBQ, Cheddar, and Black Pepper) will have the highest reach, so we drop Salt & Vinegar and Jalapeño flavors from the variety pack planning.
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When should I use TURF Analysis?

TURF is the perfect analysis choice for product or communication optimization. This includes:

  • Brand portfolio and product line planning

    • Which combination of brands or products will appeal to the greatest number of customers within your target audience?
    • If you introduce a new SKU, will this cannibalize any variants within your existing product portfolio or will it attract new customers not previously reached?
    • Within SKUs, which features should be included for maximum appeal?
  • Marketing and advertising campaigns

    • Which mix of channels will enable you to reach the greatest number of people?
    • Which are the most impactful creative routes and copy options?
  • Service planning

    • Which combination of service features will achieve the greatest reach? 

For example, imagine you have a range of yogurts and you're finding that the strawberry and raspberry flavors are doing well, while the apricot and cherry don't seem to be as popular. There will be a few issues you might want to consider before revamping your product line:


  • Which people are buying strawberry yogurts, and which are buying raspberry? Are they completely separate sets of people?
  • Who's buying apricot and cherry, and which other flavors do they enjoy? You might not want to lose your apricot and cherry lovers entirely if they're contributing enough to your market share...
  • What might happen if you launch a mango variant?
  • Which advertising channels will ensure the maximum number of people hear about your new product line?

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What are the advantages of TURF?

TURF analysis' key strength, as we have seen, lies in identifying which possible combinations of items appeal to the greatest number of consumers. In the yogurt example, TURF would help avoid doubling up on product variants that appeal to the same people - so if all your strawberry lovers are happy to buy raspberry instead, you might decide to include one or the other in the range rather than both. The removal of apricot and cherry might mean you lose those customers altogether, so to keep them in your customer base you need to know which flavor they would buy instead. There might be a group of customers who prefer exotic fruit, and the introduction of a mango variant would bring in a whole new set of potential customers who would never consider buying strawberry or raspberry. 


The most obvious advantage of TURF is that it doesn't just rank the flavors in order of preference, but tells you which combination of flavors will entice the biggest number of people to buy from your product line. A less sophisticated market research methodology - one that tells you strawberry and raspberry are by far the favorite flavors - might prompt the conclusion that both should be included in the range. But TURF goes further than this, showing the total unduplicated reach and frequency - that is, the percentage of people for whom at least one of the flavors is appealing, where preferences overlap, and the average number of appealing flavors per respondent. So you might well decide that strawberry, cherry, and mango is the ultimate line-up because that combination of products will have the best market potential. It will attract the greatest number of consumers and boost your market share. 


Similarly, when it comes to marketing your new-look yogurt range, TURF can show you which combination of advertising channels will give it the greatest exposure. If a decent percentage of people are seeing yogurt adverts on both TV and social media, but another significant set of consumers is more open to advertising on the radio, you might choose to advertise via TV and radio only.


Other factors like pricing will be key to your final business decisions. However, understanding the optimal product line, service offer, or communication strategy will increase revenue, help to cut costs, and form valuable evidence to take to retailers when aiming to increase your share of shelf space.

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Limitations of TURF research

TURF is an incredible research tool to leverage when planning out a set of product features or determining optimal reach for messaging and communication. However, like any research methodology or approach, there are some limitations to keep in mind: 


Sample size: 

TURF analysis does require a minimum sample size (typically a few hundred) to accurately represent your target audience. If your sample size is too small, or not representative, your results may not paint an accurate picture of the optimal set of features you're testing. 


TURF is great for measuring feature preferences (or some other combination of features) but it doesn't take into consideration other shopping influences like price, availability, or reputation. As such, consider using TURF findings alongside other research metrics before coming to a final product decision.

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How can quantilope help me with TURF?

quantilope makes it easy to set up a study and analyze the findings with TURF. The automated TURF survey design is based on a MaxDiff method: respondents are presented with combinations of products, brands, or features and asked to make trade-offs between them. After this, an automated & customizable real-time TURF simulator produces optimized options for maximum audience reach.


Check out how to create and analyze a TURF study here or watch this webinar to learn how product lines can be optimized using quantilope's automated TURF module. 


For a great case study on the power of TURF, read about how quantilope's analysis helped understand behavior within the women's razor market so that shelf space could be used to drive optimal sales.


To learn more about quantilope's TURF methodology, get in touch below:

Get in touch to learn more!



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