Leading a deep-dive Business Review
To start the deep-dive Business Review, dig in on these 5 sections: Category, Consumers, Channels, Competitors and Brand.
- Category: Start by looking at the overall category performance to gain a macro view of all major issues. Dig in on the factors impacting category growth, including economic indicators, consumer behavior, technology changes, shopper trends or political regulations. Also look at what is happening in related categories that could impact your own category or replicate what you may see next.
- Consumer: Define your consumer target, knowing the consumer’s underlying beliefs, buying habits, growth trends and key insights. Use the brand funnel analysis and leaky bucket analysis to uncover how they shop the category and how they make purchase decisions. Uncover consumer perceptions through tracking data or market research.
- Channels: Look at the performance of all potential distribution channels and every major retail customer. Understand their strategies, as well as their available tools and programs. To be successful, your brand must align with the customer strategies.
- Competitors: Dissect your closest competitors by looking at their performance indicators, brand positioning, innovation pipeline, pricing strategies, distribution and the perceptions of consumers. Map out a strategic Brand Plan for major competitors to predict what they might do next. Use that knowledge within your brand’s own plan.
- Brand: Understand the view of the brand through the lens of consumers, customers and employees. Use brand funnel data, market research, marketing program tracking results, pricing analysis, distribution gaps and financial analysis. You need to manage your brand’s health and wealth.
While other parts of the planning process are about focus, the deep-dive business review must look at all parts of the business to see beneath the surface level. You might find some treasures and you may find something really ugly that needs fixing. But, if you don’t look, you won’t know.
Here are 10 probing questions to kick-start your Category review
- How is the category doing relative to the economy?
- Look at the last 5 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 big open opportunities to take advantage of? What are the risks to the categories in the next few years?
- What category segments are growing, declining or emerging?
- What macro trends are influencing/changing this category?
- What is the role of innovation? How fast does it change? What innovations are transforming the category?
- What are you seeing in terms of regional or geographic trends?
- 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? How is the category performing financially? Any price changes? Major cost change?
Here are 10 probing questions to kick-start your consumer review
- Who are your possible target market consumer segments? Are they growing? How are you measuring them?
- Who are the most motivated consumers 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 the target segment? Share, sales, panel data, funnel data, tracking scores? By channel or geography?
- What drives consumer choice? What are the main need states? How so these needs line up to your brand assets?
- Map out the brand funnel and 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? Where would your competitors win?
- What is the ideal brand experience and unmet needs you can attach your brand to?
- What are the emotional and functional needs? How is the brand performing against them? How are you doing in tracking studies to meet these needs?
- What are consumers’ perceptions of your brand and your competitors?
Here are 10 probing questions to kick-start your channels review
- How are the channels performing? Are there regional differences by channel? Are there any channel shifts happening?
- Are there new/emerging channels? Are there existing channels not being developed?
- What are the strengths/weaknesses of each channel?
- Do you understand the strategies of your channel customers?
- Do you have the competencies to service your customers?
- Who are your primarily and secondary customers? Have you segmented and prioritized on growth vs opportunity? How large are they? What are their growth rates?
- How is each channel performing?
- How are brands doing within each channel? What are the main reasons for each brand’s channel strength/weakness?
- Who is the category captain within your key accounts and why?
- Who are the top 5 customers? Main strategies? How do we fit into that strategy?
Here are 10 questions to kick-start your competitor review
- Who are the main competitors? How are they positioning themselves?
- What is your competitor’s use of communication, new products and go-to-market strategy? How are they effectively executing against it?
- What is your competitor’s operating models, culture and organization? What brands are they focused on as a company?
- What are your competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats?
- How is your competitor doing in terms of customer share, market share, P&L, margins, innovation, culture, regulatory advantage
- Map out the competitors Brand Plan: vision, goals, strategies and tactics.
- What is the culture at your competitor and what is the role of the culture in their brand?
- What is the investment stance and expected growth trajectory of competitor’s brand? How/where do they invest? What is the marketing and commercial focus? What is their ROI?
- What is the competitors brand strength/equity? What drivers/attributes do they own?
- Any public materials about the competitor, including strategy and financial results?
10 probing questions to assess your brand’s power
- Where do you play? How do you win? What is your current point of difference? Is it own-able, unique and motivating for consumers?
- What is your biggest gain versus prior periods? What is your biggest gap?
- What is your market share? Regionally? Channel? Where is your strength? Where is your gap?
- How are you doing on key brand tracking panel data? Penetration? Frequency? Sales per Buyer? Dollars per trip?
- What are your scores against 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? To what extent does your culture enable and support your brand and business strategy? Is there an alignment to the brand promise and strategy by employees?
- What is the innovation process and capability of the organization?
10 probing questions to assess Brand Wealth
- Your CAGR? (Compound Annual Growth Rate)
- What are your contribution margins over last 5 years? Margins broken out by product line?
- What is your budget breakout? Working dollars versus non-working dollars? Media versus production? Consumer versus trade?
- Pricing Elasticity studies?
- How are you performing overall and by line of business?
- What are your current brand/business performance measures?
- What programs are driving the highest ROI?
- What is driving your profit? What are you focusing on right now?
- What are your forecasting error rates? Fill rates?
- What are the financial pressures you face? Quarterly results?
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
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