Before you write a brand plan, you should be using consumer analytics to uncover the issues facing your brand. We will look at consumer data and brand funnel data to help you dig deeper on issues.
You 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. You should understand what they think when they buy or reject your brand at every stage of the consumer’s purchase journey. And, use consumer analytics to uncover consumer perceptions through tracking data, the voice of the consumer, and market research.
Too many marketers are not taking the time to dig in on the consumer analytics. There is no value in having access to consumer data if you are not using it. The best brand leaders can tell strategic stories through analytics.
How to use consumer tracking data
Tracking or household panel data helps you understand what’s going on in the marketplace and will match up to what’s happening at the store level. As discussed in the strategy section, you are either trying to get more people to use your brand (drive penetration) or try to change the way they use your brand (drive purchase frequency). This consumer data tool uncovers the data; then you need consumer analytics to build a story.
Breaking down the data
A: Penetration is the percentage of households who purchased your brand product at least once during a measured period.
B: Buying rate or sales per buyer is the total amount of product purchased by the average buying household over an entire analysis period, expressed in dollars, units, or equivalent volume.
C: Purchase frequency or trips per buyer is the number of times the average buying household purchases your product over a time period (usually one year).
D: Purchase size or sales per trip is the average amount of product purchased on a single shopping trip by your average buyer. It can be calculated in dollars, units, or equivalent volume.
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How to analyze your brand using brand funnels
Every brand should understand the details of their brand funnel, the best tool for measuring your brand’s underlying health. It is the equivalent to knowing your personal blood pressure or cholesterol scores. A classic brand funnel should measure awareness, familiarity, consideration, purchase, repeat, and loyalty. At the very least, you should measure awareness, purchase, and repeat. It is not just about understanding the absolute scores on the funnel but rather the ratios that explain how good of a job you are doing in moving consumers from one stage of the funnel to the next.
I will show you how the robustness of your brand’s funnel explains where your brand sits on the brand love curve. The broader the funnel, the better connected your brand is with consumers.
Absolute brand funnel scores
A: First, start with the chart below looking at the absolute brand funnel scores. There are many types of comparisons you can do, whether you compare to last year, competitors, or category norms.
B: Then, look at the brand funnel ratios, which is the percentage score for how well your brand can convert consumers from one stage of the funnel to the next. To create ratios, divide the absolute score by the score above it on the funnel. In the example above, take the familiar score of 87% and divide it by the awareness score of 93% to determine a conversion ratio of 91%. This means 91% of aware consumers are familiar.
To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in.
Brand funnel ratios
C: Next, for the chart below, lay out the absolute scores and the ratios in a horizontal way to allow a comparison. You will notice these are the same scores as “A” and “B” in the previous chart. The crucial numbers for Gray’s Cookies are the ratios of 91%, 94%, 77%, 25%, and 12% at the top of the chart. Then bring in a close competitor (Devon’s) with their absolute and ratios scores to allow a direct comparison.
D: Then, find the ratio gaps by subtracting the competitor’s ratio scores from your brand’s ratio scores. In the example, the first ratio gap is -7% ratio gap (91% – 98%) which means Devon’s does a 7% better job in converting consumers from awareness to familiar than Gray’s Cookies.
E: Finally, as you create ratio gaps along the bottom, you can see where your ratio is either stronger or weaker than the comparison brand. Finally, start analyzing the significant gaps between the two brands and tell a strategic story to explain each gap. Looking at the example, you can see Gray’s and Devon’s have similar scores at the top part of the funnel, but Gray’s starts to show real weakness (-23% and -51% gap) as it moves to repeat and loyalty. At this stage, use the brand funnel data to fix these gaps with your brand plan.
To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in.
How the brand funnel explains where the brand sits on the brand love curve
You can begin using your consumer tracking, brand funnel, market share, and the voice of the consumer to help explain where your brand sits on the brand love curve.
- Indifferent brands have skinny funnels, starting with inferior awareness scores. Consumers have little to no opinion. Concerning performance, you will see low sales and poor margins. Your brand plan for indifferent brands should increase awareness and consideration to kickstart the funnel.
- The like it brands have funnels that are solid at the top but quickly narrow at the purchase stage. Consumers see these brands as ordinary and purchase only on a deal. When they are not advertised or on sale, sales fall off dramatically. These brands need to close potential leaks to build a loyal following behind happy experiences.
- The love it brands have a robust funnel but may have a smaller leak at loyal. They have stronger growth and margins. Look for ways to feed the love and turn repeat purchases into a ritual or routine.
- The beloved brands have the most robust brand funnels and positive consumer views. These brands should continuously track their funnel and attack any weaknesses before competitors exploit them. Also, it is time to leverage that brand love to influence others.
Our brand love curve instructs your strategy options
To kick-start your consumer analytics, here are 10 probing questions:
- First, who are your possible target consumer segments? Are they growing? From there, how do you measure them?
- Then, who are the consumers most motivated by what you have to offer?
- Next, define your current target. How have you determined demographics, behavioral or psychographic, geographic, and usage occasion? And, do you see any generational trends?
- How is your brand performing against KEY segments? Look at share, sales, panel or funnel data, tracking scores? What about by channel or geography?
- What drives consumer choice? And, 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? And, 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?
- Moreover, what are the consumer’s ideal brand experiences and unmet needs we can address?
- What are the consumer’s emotional and functional need states? Moreover, how does the brand perform against them? How are you doing in tracking studies to meet these benefits?
- Finally, what is the consumer’s perceptions of your brand and your competitors? Voice of the consumer.
Beloved Brands playbook
Our Beloved Brands playbook goes in depth on everything you need to build a brand consumers will love. Learn to about strategic thinking, brand positioning, writing brand plans, advertising decisions, media planning, marketing analytics, and financials.
How to conduct a deep-dive business review to uncover brand issues
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. 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.
First, look 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. Then look at what is happening in related categories, which could impact your category or replicate what you may see next.
Then, 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. From there, make sure you uncover consumer perceptions through tracking data, the voice of the consumer, and market research.
Next, 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.
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 brand plan.
Finally, 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 on managing your brand’s health and wealth.
Putting together a deep-dive business review
Summarize your analysis to set up the key issues to tackle in your brand plan:
Gray's Cookies Analytics Summary
- What’s driving growth? Your consumer analytics help define 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: Use consumer analytics to undercover the 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.
Smart strategic thinkers ask challenging questions.
We show how to use our Strategic ThinkBox, and lay out the five elements of strategic thinking. Next, go deeper on to challenge your brand’s core strength, engage with consumer strategy, or competitive strategy.
Video Lesson: Key Issues
To illustrate, watch our video on how to find the key issues on your brand that you can use in your marketing plan. Importantly, it helps you find the best possible questions. Subsequently, it sets up strategic solutions to answer those questions.
To view, use the ▶️ controls to play our brand strategy video.
Staying on strategy through execution.
As you move to the marketing execution, you need to use in-the-box creativity to stay on strategy. We map out the advertising process, and the innovation process. Take a look at our Creative Brief and the good and bad creative brief examples. Then, we set you up to make marketing execution decisions using our advertising checklist to evaluate creative advertising ideas. And, you can use our innovation checklist to compare new product ideas.
Our brand templates make it easier for you to do your job.
If you are looking to make your marketing team smarter, we can help. To get started, email Graham Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org