How to Guide for Marketers

How to conduct a deep-dive review of your consumer

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At least once a year, you owe it to your brand to be doing an overall deep-dive business review. The consumer behavior is constantly evolving and maneuvering in the marketplace, influenced by market trends, economic conditions, need states, and other brand choices within the category.  I will show you how to use consumer tracking data, the brand funnel analysis and how it matches up to the brand love curve. 

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 tool uncovers the data; then you need to put a story to that 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.

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: Starting with the chart above on the left, the first thing to do is look 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   

Brand funnel ratios

C: For the chart on the right, 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: 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. You need to address and fix these gaps with your brand plan.

Matching consumer analysis to 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 very poor 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 reasonably 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.

Brand Love Curve

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? And, 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. 

This consumer deep-dive is part of a larger overall deep-dive business review. To read more, click on the link below:

How to lead a deep-dive business review on your brand

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.

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

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

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

Graham Robertson bio




Beloved Brands in the Market

Has Coke lost their way?

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As a Marketer, I wish it wasn’t true. I am a huge fan of great Marketing and Coke has always been one of the best. Being a fan of Coke is likely how it feels for Manchester United fans to see your team fall to fifth place in the standings or Montreal Canadiens fans to see your team completely miss the playoffs. I hate seeing what’s happening with Coke.

I have heard a lot of Marketers suggest that Coke’s downfall is because “Coke is bad for you”.  Of course it is bad for you. So is beer, chocolate and fast cars and yet those categories are going strong. Plus, when looking at a change in sales, you must look to see what has changed. We have known that Coke was bad for you for the past 15 years, yet from 2000 to 2014, Coke saw strong steady years of growth. Coke’s Marketing was bucking the underlying “health” trend that should be bringing them down.

If I invested $10,000 in Coke in 2005, it would have turned into $22,000 by 2014, significantly beating the stock market. However, 18 months later with declining sales trend, that $22,000 is still $22,000 and Coke is now in panic mode. 

At Beloved Brands, we believe that Brands have to create a REPUTATION that connects quickly and lasts in the minds and hearts of the CONSUMER, generating a tight BOND, POWER and PROFITbeyond what the product alone could achieve.  From 2000 to 2014, Coke had been using a “Happiness” platform to make everyone feel good. It wasn’t the most strategic, but the execution was terrific. Cute polar bears, story-telling, names on labels, innovative viral ads. It was working. However, in the last 18 months, there appears to be a ton of confusion on what is the Coke reputation. This has led to lower consumer connectivity, driving lower sales and profits. At the beloved stage, the marketing effort has to shift to transforming your brand into an experience. Beloved brands create magic with the consumers, so they feel more and think less. When I look at what Coke has done with a new master brand strategy, new red cans for all brands and focusing on the product, I see a brand that is thinking more and feeling less. As a fan of Coke, they are now putting the brand at risk of becoming the next Kodak, Sony and General Motors. I hope they figure it out fast and get back to having fun.

To us, Marketing involves a process of THINK, PLAN, DECIDE, EXECUTE. The panic mode of facing declines has them thinking too much about the sales line and not enough about the reputation they manage with consumers. Some of the decisions they are making appear to be the wrong decisions and the panic mode has them on the wrong path. Let’s hope they can find their way.

2005-2015: The 3 things Coke did to keep the growth alive

We have known for a while that Coke was bad for us, yet we kept drinking it. It was fun moment to have with friends, a great thirst quencher on a hot summer day, and even a piece of American history in every bottle. Coke used amazing tactical executions to keep the brand alive in our hearts.

1. New Lifestyle machines turned Coke into an experience: 

When I was a kid, it was so much fun to go up to the pop fountain and combine every flavour: a bit of Coke, a bit of Sprite and Orange or Root Beer and back to the coke for a bit more. But Coke’s new Freestyle machines took that to the level combining art, science, entertainment and design to give you up to 100 options to make the fountain drink of your choice. These machines, not only give you a drink, but a fun and very cool interactive experience. They make Coke magical and fun, keeping the love affair with Coke alive. This is helping consumers to feel more and think less.

2. Beautiful ads that made us feel good about ourselves:

Coke has done amazing advertising work for the past 80 years. They invented our visual of Santa and taught the world to sing. The best Coke ads aren’t filled with highly strategic messages but just great feelings. In so many focus groups, I have heard consumers say, “I love the Coke polar bear ads”. When I’d ask why, all anyone can ever say is “they make me feel good”. Coke really did a good job around the “share happiness” ads. Below is a great viral ad where a Coke machine gives out free Cokes and Pizza to College students. These ads are focused on getting consumers to feel more and think less.



3. Names on bottles that makes Coke seem very personal:

When I first saw names on cans and bottles, I was highly skeptical. As a Marketer, I thought about the painful logistics of inventory management. I forgot to think like a consumer.  This is a very fun, light-hearted tactic for Coke, perfectly fitting with the share happiness brand idea. This program helps consumers to feel more and think less.

GB 5 Grip Bottles_LOW RES



2015-2016: The 3 things Coke is doing to inhibit growth

1. Listing the calories as a positive feature on the bottles:

So we know Coke is bad for us.  Many diets suggest never drink your calories. Coke is loaded with sugar. We all saw Coke fighting the New York mayor on portion sizes and we know they are fighting legislation on labelling standards. But now Coke trying to turn their 149 calories per can into a positive is one of the craziest ideas I have seen since McDonald’s told us their hamburgers use “real beef”.  In a social media world, it has set up the brand to ridicule. (e.g. Coke has more calories than a Cinnabon). This type of feature is more about thinking and less about feeling. 

2. You shouldn’t use a Master Brand strategy when you don’t have one master brand consumer:

Usually a master brand strategy works when you can build separate brands under the same idea and even cross-polinate consumers from product to product. However, Coke, Diet Coke and even Coke Zero have three distinct types of consumers. The new Coke master brand strategy feels like a complete force fit.  The two sugar-free consumers would rarely if ever drink a real Coke. Now if it was 1981 and Coke decided to use a Master brand approach, maybe that would have worked. But 35 years later, they have THREE huge brands on their hands. In fact, Diet Coke is the #2 brand in the category next to Coke. In theory, the brand and the variant can go together. But in practice, bringing them together after the fact is extremely difficult. Just imagine if Microsoft decided to re-name the Xbox with Surface. High risk, no value move. Their new “Taste the Feeling” advertising campaign is all about SELLING MORE PRODUCT.  It’s an OK spot, not a great spot. For a 90 second spot called “Anthem” it lacks the emotional appeal you would expect, and it won’t really generate any viral share-ability. In fact, it on has 650,000 YouTube views so far.  It has a lot of product shots, but not really the connectivity needed to move product. And the Diet Coke branding is so bad that you could almost have a contest to spot the “Diet Coke”. This type of advertising is more about moving the feet and less about feeling.



3. New packaging is ugly and off-strategy: 

First, I believe that packaging is one of Coke’s biggest strengths. Obviously, the red Coke has 100 years of heritage, and matches the heavy syrup taste of Coke. However, the Diet Coke silver/white package conveys a lighter taste than the red package, appealing mostly to women. The Coke Zero black package stood out in the grocery aisles and grabbed a higher share of the male consumer looking for a sugar-free option. Having three separate packages for three different consumers is a smart strategy. The only explanation I have heard for this type of packaging is “Brand Blocking”.  You’re joking right?  Coke is already a dominant brand in a huge aisle of the grocery section. Having all red will actually hurt them on the shelf as it will be confusing for the separate customers. I’d rather 10 feet of red, 10 feet of silver and 10 feet of black. Plus, this new packaging is ugly!!!  This is just confusing to the consumer, it won’t get to think, feel or even move feet. My hope is that comes to their senses quickly and goes back to the normal packaging. QUICKLY.



Coke has to return to capturing the magic with consumers. Think less. Feel more.


Here’s a presentation on what makes a Beloved Brand:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at or call us at 416-885-3911. You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands

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