You should do a deep-dive business review at least once a year on your brand. Otherwise, you are negligent of the brand, where you are investing all your resources. Dig in on the five specific sections—marketplace, consumers, channels, competitors and the brand—to draw out analytical conclusions to help set up your brand’s key issues, which you answer in the brand plan.
- Marketplace: Start by looking at the overall category performance to gain a macro view of all significant issues. Dig in on the factors impacting category growth, including economic indicators, consumer behavior, technology changes, shopper trends, and political regulations. Also look at what is happening in related categories, which could impact your category or replicate what you may see next.
- Consumers: Analyze your consumer target to better understand the consumer’s underlying beliefs, buying habits, growth trends, and critical insights. Use the brand funnel analysis and leaky bucket analysis to uncover how they shop and how they make purchase decisions. You should understand what they think when they buy or reject your brand at every stage of the consumer’s purchase journey. Uncover consumer perceptions through tracking data, the voice of the consumer, and market research.
- Channels: Assess the performance of all potential distribution channels and the performance of every major retail customer. Understand their strategies, and how well your brand is using their available tools and programs. Your brand must align with your retail customer strategies.
- Competitors: Dissect your closest competitors by looking at their performance indicators, brand positioning, innovation pipeline, pricing strategies, distribution and the consumer’s perceptions of these brands. To go even deeper, you can map out a strategic brand plan for significant competitors to predict what they might do next. Use that knowledge within your own brand plan.
- Brand: Analyze your own brand through the lens of consumers, customers, competitors, and employees. Use brand funnel data, market research, marketing program tracking results, pricing analysis, distribution gaps, and financial analysis. You should be managing your brand’s health and wealth.
To kickstart your review of the marketplace, here are 10 probing questions:
- How is the category doing relative to the economy?
- Look at the last five years and explain each of the ups and downs in the category.
- What is driving category growth? What is holding the category back?What are the significant open opportunities you can use to your advantage? What are the risks to the categories in the next few years?
- What category segments are growing, declining or emerging?
- What are the macro trends influencing or changing this category?
- What is the role of innovation? How fast does it change? Which innovations are transforming the category?
- Which regional or geographic trends do you see?
- Who holds the balance of power in the category: brands, suppliers, channels, or consumers?
- Look at other issues: Operations, inventory, mergers, technology, innovation, investments, global trade.
- What is the overall value of the category? Any price changes? Major cost changes?
To kick-start your review of the consumers, here are 10 probing questions:
- Who are your possible target consumer segments? Are they growing? How do you measure them?
- Who are the consumers most motivated by what you have to offer?
- Who is your current target? How have you determined demographics, behavioral or psychographic, geographic, and usage occasion? Generational trends?
- How is your brand performing against KEY segments? Share, sales, panel or funnel data, tracking scores? What about by channel or geography?
- What drives consumer choice? What are the primary need states? How do these consumer needs line up to your brand assets? Where can you win with consumers?
- Map out the path to purchase and use brand funnels to assess your brand’s performance in moving through each stage. Are consumers changing at stages? Are you failing at stages?
- What are the emerging consumer trends? How does your brand match up to potentially exploit them? Where would your competitors win?
- What are the consumer’s ideal brand experiences and unmet needs we can address?
- What are the consumer’s emotional and functional need states? How does the brand perform against them? How are you doing in tracking studies to meet these benefits?
- What is the consumer’s perceptions of your brand and your competitors? Voice of the consumer.
Here are ten probing questions to kick-start your channels review
- How are each the channels performing? Are there regional differences by channel? Channel shifts?
- Are there new and emerging channels? Are there channels on the horizon, not yet developed?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of each channel?
- Do you understand the strategies of your retail customers?
- Do you have the competencies to service your customers?
- Who are the top 5 customers? What are their main strategies? How does our brand fit into that plan?
- Who are your primary and secondary customers? Have you segmented and prioritized for growth versus opportunity? How large are they? What are their growth rates?
- How is each customer performing? How profitable is that customer for your brand?
- How is your brand doing within each customer? What are your brand’s strength and weaknesses?
- How is the relationship with the customer? Who is the category captain of your key accounts and why?
Here are 10 questions to kickstart your competitor review:
- Who are your main competitors? How do they position themselves?
- What are your competitor’s use of communication, new products, and go-to-market strategy? How are they executing against each?
- Describe your competitor’s operating model, culture, and organization structure.
- What are your competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats?
- How is your competitor doing regarding market share, customer market shares, investment, margins, innovation, culture, share of voice, or any regulatory advantage?
- Map out the competitor’s brand plan: vision, goals, key issues, strategies, and tactics.
- What is the culture at your competitor and what is the role culture plays in their brand?
- What is the investment stance and expected growth trajectory of your competitor’s brand? How much and where do they invest? What are the marketing and commercial focus? What is their ROI?
- What are your competitor’s brand strengths, brand assets, and reputation?
- Are there any public materials about the competitor, including strategy and financial results?
10 probing questions to assess your brand’s performance:
- What consumer benefit can you win with, which is ownable, unique, and motivating for consumers?
- What is your biggest gain versus prior periods? What is your biggest gap?
- What is your market share? Regionally? By channel? Where is your strength? Where is your gap?
- How are you performing on key brand tracking data? Penetration? Frequency? Sales per buyer or per trip?
- What are your brand’s scores on the brand funnel?
- How is your program tracking data doing? Where could you improve?
- How far can you “stretch” your brand into other opportunities?
- What is your current operating model?
- What is your culture? Do you have alignment with the brand story and your employees?
- What is the innovation process and capability of the organization?
10 probing financial questions to help assess your brand’s worth:
- What is your brand’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR)? Explain the ups and downs over the past five years.
- What are your gross margins and contribution margins over last five years? Can you break it out by product line? Is there more pressure from price or the cost of goods?
- What is your brand’s marketing budget breakout? Variable direct costs versus indirect fixed dollars? What is the break between media and creative production? Consumer spend versus trade spend?
- Have you completed any pricing elasticity studies? What did you learn about your brand? If you did increase your price, what did you see in the marketplace?
- How is your brand’s overall strategy impacting your brand’s profits? How do your decisions on your brand’s core strength, consumer connection, competitive pressures, and situation impact your financials?
- How are your current brand/business performance metrics, brand’s market goals, and financials linked?
- Over the past five years, what are the programs that drive the highest and lowest ROI?
- How does your business model impact your overall profit? What are you focusing on right now?
- What are your forecasting error rates? Is there a seasonality impact? How do economic factors impact your brand’s financials? How reasonable are your inventory levels?
- What financial pressures do you face on an annual or quarterly basis?
4 more questions that summarize the analysis to tackle in your brand plan
- What is driving growth? Focus on the top factors of strength, positional power or market inertia that has a proven link to driving your brand’s growth. Your plan must continue to fuel these drivers.
- What is inhibiting growth? Focus on the top factors of weakness, unaddressed gaps or market friction that can be proven to be holding back your brand’s growth. Your plan should focus on reducing or reversing these inhibitors to growth.
- What are the opportunities for growth? Specific untapped areas in the market that could fuel your brand’s future growth, based on unfulfilled consumer needs, new technologies on the horizon, potential regulation changes, new distribution channels or the removal of trade barriers. Your plan should take advantage of these opportunities in the future.
- What are the potential threats to future growth? Changing circumstances including consumer needs, new technologies, competitive activity, distribution changes or potential barriers that create potential risks to your brand’s growth. Within your plan, look for ways to minimize the impact of these risks.
To read more about conducting a deep-dive Business Review, here is our training workshop we use to help Brand Leaders get better in this area
My new book, Beloved Brands, coming this spring.
How this Beloved Brands playbook can work for you. The purpose of this book is to make you a smarter brand leader so your brand can win in the market. You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution, and be able to analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.
Beloved Brands: Who are we?
At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.
The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.
We help brands find growth
We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.
We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.
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We make Brand Leaders smarter
We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.
To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training
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