How to Guide for Marketers

64 analytical questions to understand your brand’s performance

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analyticsYou 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.    

Deep-dive review

Too many marketers are not taking the time to dig in on the analytics. There is no value in having access to data if you are not using it. The best brand leaders can tell strategic stories through analytics.

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 conclusions to help set up your brand’s key issues, which you answer in the brand plan.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. How is the category doing relative to the economy?
  2. Look at the last five years and explain each of the ups and downs in the category.
  3. 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?
  4. What category segments are growing, declining or emerging?
  5. What are the macro trends influencing or changing this category?
  6. What is the role of innovation? How fast does it change? Which innovations are transforming the category?
  7. Which regional or geographic trends do you see?
  8. Who holds the balance of power in the category: brands, suppliers, channels, or consumers?
  9. Look at other issues: Operations, inventory, mergers, technology, innovation, investments, global trade.
  10. 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:

  1. Who are your possible target consumer segments? Are they growing? How do you measure them?
  2. Who are the consumers most motivated by what you have to offer?
  3. Who is your current target? How have you determined demographics, behavioral or psychographic, geographic, and usage occasion? Generational trends?
  4. How is your brand performing against KEY segments? Share, sales, panel or funnel data, tracking scores?  What about by channel or geography?
  5. 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?
  6. 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?
  7. What are the emerging consumer trends? How does your brand match up to potentially exploit them? Where would your competitors win? 
  8. What are the consumer’s ideal brand experiences and unmet needs we can address?
  9. 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?
  10. What is the consumer’s perceptions of your brand and your competitors? Voice of the consumer. 

10 probing questions to kick-start your channels review

  1. How are each the channels performing? Are there regional differences by channel? Channel shifts?
  2. Are there new and emerging channels? Are there channels on the horizon, not yet developed?
  3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each channel?
  4. Do you understand the strategies of your retail customers?
  5. Do you have the competencies to service your customers? 
  6. Who are the top 5 customers? What are their main strategies? How does our brand fit into that plan?
  7. 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?
  8. How is each customer performing? How profitable is that customer for your brand?
  9. How is your brand doing within each customer? What are your brand’s strength and weaknesses?
  10. 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:

  1. Who are your main competitors? How do they position themselves?
  2. What are your competitor’s use of communication, new products, and go-to-market strategy? How are they executing against each? 
  3. Describe your competitor’s operating model, culture, and organization structure. 
  4. What are your competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats?
  5. How is your competitor doing regarding market share, customer market shares, investment, margins, innovation, culture, share of voice, or any regulatory advantage?    
  6. Map out the competitor’s brand plan: vision, goals, key issues, strategies, and tactics.
  7. What is the culture at your competitor and what is the role culture plays in their brand?
  8. 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?
  9. What are your competitor’s brand strengths, brand assets, and reputation? 
  10. Are there any public materials about the competitor, including strategy and financial results? 

10 probing questions to assess your brand’s performance:

  1. What consumer benefit can you win with, which is ownable, unique, and motivating for consumers?
  2. What is your biggest gain versus prior periods? What is your biggest gap?
  3. What is your market share? Regionally? By channel? Where is your strength? Where is your gap?   
  4. How are you performing on key brand tracking data? Penetration? Frequency? Sales per buyer or per trip? 
  5. What are your brand’s scores on the brand funnel?    
  6. How is your program tracking data doing? Where could you improve?
  7. How far can you “stretch” your brand into other opportunities? 
  8. What is your current operating model?    
  9. What is your culture? Do you have alignment with the brand story and your employees?
  10. What is the innovation process and capability of the organization?

10 probing financial questions to help assess your brand’s worth:

  1. What is your brand’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR)? Explain the ups and downs over the past five years.
  2. 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?
  3. 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?   
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. How are your current brand/business performance metrics, brand’s market goals, and financials linked?
  7. Over the past five years, what are the programs that drive the highest and lowest ROI?
  8. How does your business model impact your overall profit? What are you focusing on right now?
  9. 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?   
  10. What financial pressures do you face on an annual or quarterly basis?   

4 more questions to summarize the analysis

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

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 analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link:

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link:

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order:

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.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

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 brand 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.

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.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.


Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.



How to Guide for Marketers

How to lead a Business Review on your brand

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2015 logo profile pic versionBefore engaging in your brand planning process, it is a good discipline to start off by doing a deep dive analysis on everything on your business. And I mean everything.  

Yes, everything!!!

When I was at J&J, we had the luxury of getting our Assistant Brand Managers (ABM) to spend 6 weeks looking at everything on the brand and then getting them to present it to the marketing leadership team. Here’s a little secret: it sounds a little cruel, but we hinted that the business review was a “bit of a test” that would impact your career trajectory. If you give an A-type personality from the best MBA programs a month to dig in and you hint that it’s a “test”, you get some of the best brand reviews ever!  These ABMs also spent a full day each month digging into the monthly consumption and sales numbers and writing up a monthly report which helped keep us on track all year. When I became a Brand Manager, I said “thank god I’m no longer have to do all that analysis, and I can now spend more time just thinking”. But as I moved up to Director level and up to the VP level, I started to lose touch with what was really happening on the brands. So, rather than just pass on the ABM’s monthly report to my boss, I would block off a morning and do up my own monthly report. I dug in on the share data, looking for breaking points in the trend line, questioning any splits I would see after breaking out the regions, channels or sizes. Many times, I’d come up with new conclusions not considered and I’d pass them back down. With that analytical training as an ABM matched up against my experience, I found I could go faster than I used to–because I knew what to look for.

The lesson I learned, is that to free yourself up to do the thinking, you need to first dig in and do the questioning. 

As Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”

At Beloved Brands, we believe in digging deep and we live the six principles for good analytics: 

  1. Opinions without fact to back them up are just opinions and can leave a room divided:  you will gain more support for your analysis by telling analytical stories through data.
  2. Absolute numbers by themselves are useless: only when given a relative nature to something important do you find the data break that tells a story. Slide1
  3. The analytical story comes to life when you see a break in the data: comparative indexes and cross tabulations can really bring out the data breaks and gaps that can really tell a story. 
  4. Like an old-school reporter, two sources of data help frame the story: Avoid taking one piece of data and making it the basis of your entire brand strategy. Make sure it’s a real trend.
  5. Deep analysis requires thinking time:  Asking these 5 questions can force the deeper richer thinking: What do we know? What do we assume?  What we think? What do we need to find out? What are we going to do? 
  6. Use tools that can help organize and force deep dive thinking in key areas:  SWOTs or Force Field type tools help organize your thinking and frame the discussion for others.

Deep Dive Business Review

  1. Category: factors impacting growth, trends, economic, changes happening in demographics, behaviors, consumption. Look at related categories.
  2. Consumer: define segments, buying habits, growth trends, key insights for each segment, buying system analysis, leaky bucket, consumer perceptions through tracking data and research
  3. Channels: look at each channel’s performance, major customers, sales performance, tools for winning used in each channel
  4. Competitors: dissect competitors looking at positioning, pipeline, pricing, distribution differences, consumer perception, strategies. Complete a brand plan for each competitor.
  5. Brand: look at internal and external health and wealth of brand. Use financial analysis, brand funnel data, market research perceptions. Look at advertising results, pricing strategies, distribution gaps and do a complete leaky bucket analysis.
  6. Health and Wealth of Brand: look at factors driving the internal health and wealth and the external health and wealth of the brand.
  7. What’s driving growth: summation of the top 3 factors of strength, positional power or inertia that can be a proven link to growth.
  8. What’s inhibiting growth: summation of top 3 factors of weakness, un-addressed gaps or friction holding back the growth of the brand.
  9. Opportunities for growth: specific untapped areas that would fuel future growth, based on unfulfilled needs, new technologies, regulation changes, removal of trade barriers.
  10. Risk to future growth: changing circumstances create potential risk to your growth pattern, based on changes in consumer needs, threat of substitutes, barriers to trade, customer preference, or attacking your weaknesses


At Beloved Brands we teach brand leaders good analytical principles about telling stories with data to gain more support for your analysis. We look at every part of the health and wealth of a brand looking at the category, consumer, channels, brand, competitors. We teach how analysis turns fact into insight and how data breaks set up strategic choices. We look at how to turn analytical thinking into projections. And then we help to build an analytical story and presentation that’s ready for management review.


Here is the Workshop that we run to help brand leaders be better at analytical thinking and help them to create better analytical stories. You’ll see how we are able to dig into every aspect of the brand as we provide tools for assessing the overall category to dissecting the competitor, how to analyze what’s happening with consumers and channels and then how to do a complete assessment behind the data of the brand. You have all this information, you should really use it.


In a world of BIG DATA, it’s only BIG if you know how to use it.

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To see a workshop on THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at or phone me at 416 885 3911

GR bio Jun 2016.001



Bringing our blog to life through video

000f51eAt Beloved Brands, we have created a new video Series called BELOVED BRANDS 180. Each video will be 180 seconds (3 minutes) in length and our goal is to get Brand Leaders to do a 180 on their thinking. We want them to think different, because the thinking that got you this far, might not be enough to get to where you want to go next. Today’s video topic is “How to write a brand positioning statement”. Brand positioning statements provide the most useful function of taking everything you know about your brand, everything that could be said about the consumer and making choices to pick one target that you’ll serve and one brand promise you will stand behind.