How to conduct a deep-dive business review to uncover brand issues

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

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 conduct 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. You should dig in on the five specific analytical sections—looking at the marketplace, consumers, channels, competitors and the brand. Draw out conclusions to help set up your brand’s key issues, which you answer in the brand plan.      

Marketplace Analysis:

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.

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? Dig into what is holding the category back, the significant open opportunities you can use to your advantage, and the risks to the categories you see in the next few years?
  4. What category segments are growing, declining, or emerging? 
  5. Outline 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?


Consumer Analysis:

The deep-dive business review should 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. Try to 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.

To kickstart 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? Do you know 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.  


Channel Analysis:

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.

Here are ten probing questions to kickstart 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? Outline how profitable each 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?


Competitor Analysis:

The competitive section fo the deep-dive business review should issect 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 brand plan.

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? Find out 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?  


Brand Analysis:

Analyze your 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. Focus the deep-dive business review on managing your brand’s health and wealth.

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? Do you know 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?


Summary of the deep-dive business review

Summarize your deep-dive business review, so that it can set up the key issues to tackle in your brand plan: 

What’s driving growth? The top factors of strength, positional power, or market inertia, which have a proven link to driving your brand’s growth. Your plan should continue to fuel these growth drivers.

What’s inhibiting growth? The most significant factors of weakness, unaddressed gaps, or market friction you can prove to be holding back your brand’s growth. Your plan should focus on reducing or reversing these inhibitors to growth. 

Opportunities for growth: Look at specific untapped areas in the market, which 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.  

Threats to future growth: Changing circumstances, including consumer needs, new technologies, competitive activity, distribution changes, or potential barriers, which create potential risks to your brand’s growth. Build your plan to minimize the impact of these risks.




You will find this type of thinking in my book, Beloved Brands.

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I wrote my book, Beloved Brands, as the playbook for how to build a brand your consumers will love.

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