Southern Cross Care is delivering it’s ‘Better for life’ vision to new audiences with the help of market research

Jason and the team have helped us to find the true meaning behind survey responses, which is not easy to do. It takes years of experience to understand what people are really trying to tell you, and how to translate this into meaningful advice and recommendations.

As one of Australia’s leading charitable aged care and retirement living organisations, Southern Cross Care (SA, NT & VIC) Inc first partnered with Square Holes in 2018 to track brand awareness.

This partnership has allowed Southern Cross Care to build marketing plans from a solid foundation of data and insights, helping the brand to grow, both in terms of visibility and influence.

Peter Ferguson, Marketing & Client Experience Group Manager at Southern Cross Care, says that while the organisation had used market research in the past, this was the first time they had committed to an ongoing, annual brand tracking of this nature.

“Southern Cross Care had done lots of market research in different ways prior to 2018, but they didn’t have an annual brand tracking process. They didn’t have a partner that they could go back to every year, someone cost effective and efficient in what they do, to track our brand to see how it’s moving and changing in response to what we are trying to do as a marketing team,” says Ferguson.

Southern Cross Care provide residential care to those that need it.

Peter says that the brand tracking has allowed the organisation to draw out and identify those challenging roadblocks that hinder Southern Cross Care from effectively communicating their message and vision.

“What Jason and the team at Square Holes have helped us to do, is to understand that we’re actually in a low engagement sector where most people are not thinking about our brand or any of our competitors’ brands very much in their day-to-day lives. Most people don’t actively think about aged care or retirement villages until they get to a certain age and have a need for these services,” says Ferguson.

“The data has helped us to really see that in action, because when you work in a sector it’s all around you, so you can lose perspective that the vast majority of people are not thinking about you very much, most of the time. This insight helps to sharpen your focus around how consistent, for example, you need to be with the way you execute your distinctive brand assets.”

Another major asset that the ongoing research has provided, is the ability for Southern Cross Care to assess their position in the market against their competitors. According to Peter, this is a rare opportunity for the brand to gather their own intel on consumer attitudes.

“The other thing that has been really important is the ability for us to have annual data that positioned us relative to our competitors. When you’re doing your own research and you’re getting that insight about how you sit in the pack, it’s really useful for the board and executives to see that and how it changes over time” says Ferguson.

The research has also allowed Southern Cross Care to drill down into their individual offerings to gauge brand recall and sentiment. Peter says that this function of the ongoing study has enabled the organisation to quickly and effectively target those areas that need more attention, such as their work in the home care segment.

“Historically Southern Cross Care was a retirement living and residential care provider. What the tracking enabled us to verify is that most people didn’t know us as a home care provider, so they weren’t thinking of us when looking for a provider. We weren’t in their consideration set. The great thing about the research was we could see that while our awareness was low, the interest in consideration of our home care services was strong. So, it allowed us to see that our problem wasn’t getting them to see how our trusted brand applied to home care, it’s that they just didn’t know we provided it. Which became a much simpler problem for us. We could just focus on awareness,” says Ferguson.

“Three years on (from that campaign), we’ve almost tripled our unprompted home care brand awareness. The consideration and interest have stayed really strong, and we’ve seen significant increases in our client base and market share. So, we know that what we’re doing is having the right impact.”

“It’s helped us to target our investment and make a case each year for ongoing investment in those ad campaigns.”

With a tracker of this nature, Peter and his team are able to gather a growing bank of data that both supports and guides their marketing activities.

Home Care is also one of Southern Cross Care’s trusted services.

“I found it was really important to collect that data so that every year I could go back and say it’s working and here’s how it’s impacting brand awareness and sentiment and here’s how it’s impacting our market share and our growth,” says Ferguson.

“If you’re able to tell that story and demonstrate it, then you’ve a much better chance of getting ongoing investment rather than just saying, we think it’s working because of this.”

Moving into the future, Southern Cross Care will continue to use research to better understand its brand, its audiences and to consider new markets for its services.

“At Southern Cross Care, we believe in good health and wellbeing for all at all ages, and we have dedicated ourselves to supporting people to be Better for life. As a charitable not-for-profit, market research plays a key role in helping us to deliver this vision to more people in our community.”

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