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Leading a deep-dive Business Review


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How to use brand analytics to lead a business review on your Brand
You owe your brand a deep-dive business review at least once a year. It should be the start of your brand planning process. Otherwise, you are being negligent to your brand and will operate on the surface level, missing what’s going on beneath the surface. To go deep, you need to look at everything–including the category, consumers, channels, competitors and then your own brand.

Published in: Marketing

Leading a deep-dive Business Review

  1. 1. THE BRAND LEADER How to lead a deep-dive Business Review on your Brand You owe your brand a deep-dive Business Review at least once a year. Otherwise, you are being negligent to your brand. By operating only at the surface level, you miss out on what’s going on beneath your instinctual observations. To go deep, you need to look at everything, including the category you play in, the consumers you serve, the distribution channels you sell through, your main competitors and the underlying health of your own brand. The deep-dive Business Review should kick-off your brand planning process, ensuring your plans are addressing the right issues and that you have the knowledge to make informed decisions on your brand. Beloved Brands 1 We make brand leaders smarter
  2. 2. Our recommended 6-step process for leading a deep-dive Business Review 1. Category: You should 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, political regulations or whats happening in other related categories that could impact your own category. 2. Consumer: The review should define your consumer target, knowing the consumer’s underlying beliefs, buying habits, growth trends and key insights. We use a consumer buying system analysis and leaky bucket analysis to uncover how they shop the category and your brand. You need to uncover consumer perceptions through tracking data or market research. 3. Channels: Look at the performance of all potential distribution channels and every major customer in the category. It is important that you understand your channel customer’s strategies, as well as the available tools and programs, so your brand can align your brand with the customer and be more successful in each channel. 4. Competitors: Dissect your closest competitors by looking at their performance indicators, brand positioning, innovation pipeline, pricing strategies, distribution and the perceptions of the consumers. Map out a strategic Brand Plan for all major competitors to help predict what they might do next, and know how you might counter in your own brand plan. 5. Brand: Understand the view of your 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. We recommend that you look at the internal health and wealth as well as the external health and wealth of the brand. 6. Summarize the Analysis to help set up the issues to tackle on your Brand Plan • What’s driving growth? Focus on the top factors of strength, positional power or market inertia that has a proven link to driving growth behind your brand. Your Brand Plan will be built on continuing to fuel these drivers. • What’s inhibiting growth? Focus on the top factors of weakness, unaddressed gaps or market friction that can be proven to be holding back the growth of your brand. Your Brand Plan should focus on reducing or reversing these inhibitors to your growth. • Opportunities for growth: Specific untapped areas in the market that would fuel future growth, based on unfulfilled consumer needs, new technologies on the horizon, regulation changes, new distribution channels or the removal of trade barriers. The plan should take advantage of these opportunities in the future. • Risk to future growth: Changing circumstances including consumer needs, new technologies, competitive activity, distribution changes or potential barriers to trade create potential risk to your growth. Build your Brand Plans to minimize the impact of these risks.
 Beloved Brands 2 We make brand leaders smarter
  3. 3. 1. The Category The deep-dive process we recommend starts with digging in on the overall category, to help assess the macro factors and trends that are impacting your brand today and potentially in the future. These factors include any political, economic, social and technology trends impacting the category. We recommend that you look at related categories because the trends they see today could impact your brand in the future. First, look at both sales dollars and sales units to see if you spot any major trends happening. Dig in to see if you can explain any underlying drivers of the major variances you are seeing—both increases and decreases. In our example, we are seeing wide fluctuations with annual gains of +19% to -13.5%. You may even need to look at the 5- year or 10-year trend line to see if this is consistent over time. Next, we look at the trend line on category price, and compare to inflation rates of the region you compete in. In our case example above, we see that price swings are not as dramatic as volume swings. We would recommend that you summarize the factors driving category growth and factors holding the category back. Use your knowledge you gain from digging in to help explain the ups and downs of the drivers and inhibitors for each year. The next important dimension is to look at is the regional performance. Start by understanding the relative size of each region and the relative growth rates of those regions. Many times, regional investment will follow a combination of market size and growth opportunity. We use two Beloved Brands 3 We make brand leaders smarter
  4. 4. ways to look at the importance and strength of a region for your brand. First, we look at your share in the channel, relative to your national business. Or we use a development index relative to either population or a bigger category that this sub- category plays within. Just as you did at the macro level of the category, you should summarize the major drivers you are seeing for each region. We also believe it is important that you summarize your own brand performance within each region. This will help in your brand plan as you decide on regional activity that either continues to drive growth or close gaps that might exist. There are many other aspects of the category you should be looking at, including product formats (size, flavors etc), distribution channels, benefit segments or competitors. While working with all available data is the best place to start, we also recommend that you analyze what you can’t necessarily see. The tool we use is a PEST analysis that looks at the macro trends that are impacting the category through Political, Economic, Social and Technology trends. Beloved Brands 4 We make brand leaders smarter
  5. 5. Here are 10 probing questions to kick-start your Category review 2. Consumers The next area to dive deep is the consumer. Start by figuring out where you are playing, defining who you are serving and who you aren’t serving. Define segments, look at buying habits, growth trends, key insights for each segment. Gain knowledge by mapping out the buying system analysis, leaky bucket, consumer perceptions through tracking data and research. We recommend that you either use some type of panel/scan data if it is available or compile your own data through tracking research. This helps determine what’s going on with consumer behavior beneath the surface. Our preference is the brand funnel tracking tools as it maps out how well your brand is doing at each stage of the consumer buying system. 1. How is the category doing relative to the economy? 2. Look at the last 5 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 big open opportunities to take advantage of? What are the risks to the categories in the next few years? 4. What category segments are growing, declining or emerging? 5. What macro trends are influencing/changing this category? 6. What’s the role of innovation? How fast does it change? What innovations are transforming the category? 7. What are you seeing in terms of regional or geographic trends? 8. Who holds the balance of power in the category: brands, channels or consumers? 9. Look at other issues: Operations, inventory, mergers, technology, innovation. 10. What is the overall value of the category How is the category performing financially? Any price changes? Major cost change? Beloved Brands 5 We make brand leaders smarter
  6. 6. How to use consumer tracking data  From the tracking or household panel data (Nielsen or IRI), you have to understand how your brand is doing on both penetration and the buying rate, in order to fill in the simple equation of  “Sales = (Total Population x Penetration rate) x Buying Rate”. A. Penetration Percentage: The percent of households who purchased a product, shopped in a certain channel or retailer at least once during a measured period. B. Buying rate or sales per buyer: 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: Number of times the average buying household purchases your product over a time period (usually a year). Purchase Frequency remains the same regardless of which sales measure is used (dollars, units or Equivalent volume) D. Purchase size or sales per trip: Average amount of product purchased on a single shopping trip by your average buyer. Like the buying rate, purchase size can be calculated in terms of dollars, units or Equivalent volume. How to analyze your brand using Brand Funnels Every brand should understand the details of their Brand Funnel, knowing what’s causing any strength, weakness, changes versus last year or gaps versus competitors. A classic brand funnel Beloved Brands 6 We make brand leaders smarter
  7. 7. should measure awareness, familiar, consider, purchase, repeat and loyal. At the very least, you should be measuring awareness, purchase and loyalty. It’s not just about driving particular numbers on the funnel, but about moving them from one stage to the next. The first thing to do (see chart above) is look at the Absolute brand funnel scores (A), comparing them to last year, to competitors or versus category norms. Then look at the brand funnel ratios (B), finding the percent conversion from one stage to the next. To create the ratios, divide the absolute number by the number above it on the funnel. For instance in the example below, take the familiar score of 87% and divide it by the awareness score of 93% to determine the ratio conversion of 91%. That means 91% of those who are aware become familiar.  The data becomes even more powerful when you start looking at the ratios of your brand in comparison (C) to the ratios of your nearest competitor. In this second part of the analysis, the ratio becomes the focus. Compare the ratios, finding the gap (D) between the two brands at each of the stages. You will start to see where your ratio will either be stronger or weaker than the comparison brand. Analyzing the difference (E) between the 2 brands finds the biggest gaps and tells a strategic story that explains the gap. Looking at the example, we see “Your Brand” and “Brand X” are relatively similar at the top part of the funnel, but your brand starts to show real weakness as it moves to repeat and loyalty. This creates a gap you need to fix through the Brand Plan. Beloved Brands 7 We make brand leaders smarter
  8. 8. The brand funnel data helps tell where your brand sits on the Brand Love Curve. Indifferent brands have skinny funnels throughout. Consumers treat these brands like commodities. Your Brand Plan need to fuel awareness and consideration to kick-start the funnel. The next stage we call Like It brands, which have funnels that narrow at purchase. These brands need a plan to close leaks by getting their brand message closer to the purchase moment. The Love It type brands have a more robust funnel, but may have a smaller leak at loyal. The plan should continue to feed the love and build strength among loyalists. The most beloved brands have ideal funnels, but you should track and build a plan that will attack any weakness before it is seen or exploited by others. Market Research Studies Market Research studies can really help uncover issues on your brand. Some brands keep looking back at a study from 5 years ago, and miss out on the major changes that have happened in the marketplace since. Market Research should provide a view of the who, what, when, where and how behind the overall consumer dynamics of your category or market. They can help you understand how consumer behavior and usage changes by brand, helping explain why consumers buy specific brands and what it is that makes those brands distinctive, outlining the rational and emotional benefits. They help identify any perceived gaps in the consumers mind between the brand promise, consumer expectation and the overall brand performance. And, a good market research study can provide an overall vantage of various consumer segments, looking at lifestyle and demographic dimensions, how they consume media, overall attitudes on key drivers or brand benefits. When we do our brand planning and marketing execution, we manage the executional tactics using a consumer buying system that starts with the consumer and then maps out how they shop, Beloved Brands 8 We make brand leaders smarter
  9. 9. closely resembling the brand funnel. This tool can really helps focus your activities to where your brand needs the most help, either to continue fueling or closing a gap. Here are 10 probing questions to kick-start your consumer review 1. Who are your possible target market consumer segments? Are they growing? How are you measuring them? 2. Who are the most motivated consumers 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 the target segment? Share, sales, panel data, funnel data, tracking scores? By channel or geography? 5. What drives consumer choice? What are the main need states? How so these needs line up to your brand assets? 6. Map out the buying system and 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? Where would your competitors win? 8. What is the ideal brand experience and unmet needs we can attach the brand to? 9. What are the emotional and functional benefits? How is the brand performing against them? How are you doing in tracking studies to meet these benefits? 10. What are consumers’ perceptions of your brand and your competitors? Beloved Brands 9 We make brand leaders smarter
  10. 10. 3. Channels A brand that understands the channels and customers can align the brand’s execution to the needs of each major customer group. Assess each channel’s performance, then drill down to your major customers, analyzing your sales, share and fair share of the channel’s marketing tools (ads and displays). You need to compare your brand to the overall category or a direct competitor to asses your share of business by each channel or customer.  Start with your market share and distribution percentage in each channel to give the first macro view. You can assess some key insights from your sales team or directly from customers to match up to the data you are seeing. From there, you can look at how the channel’s tools (displays and ads) are being utilized by your brand. We use “fair share index” (FSI) which is your brand’s share of activity divided by your overall market share. This enables you to see if you are under or over- developed against a certain tool. Draw conclusions by comparing how you are doing in each channel and versus other periods.   We recommend that you create customer scorecards for your biggest customers. Start with the performance of that customer within their competitive set. Map out how you are doing with that customer in terms of sales, share or growth, then dig a layer deeper by looking at how you are doing on pricing, co-op advertising and merchandising/display ratings. Beloved Brands 10 We make brand leaders smarter
  11. 11. Then, you want to understand the main issues the channels are facing, brainstorming how to take advantage of opportunities for your brand as well as avoiding the risks.  Here are 10 probing questions to kick-start your channels review 4. Competitors We believe that brands have four choices: You have to be better, different, cheaper or not around for very long. You need to find your point of difference to win. Brands that think they “don’t have a competitor” are naive. Any blue ocean brand still steals money away from someone else and if done well, a blue ocean brand just invites others to join in the near future. What type of competitor are you? Are you a Power Player with the leadership position or a Challenger brand that constantly pushes the leader? Or are you an Island type brand competing in a space all by yourself, or a rebel brand going against the category norms? The worst thing is to be considered a cluttered brand that is typically stuck in competitive dog-fights with no defined point of difference, nothing to own and nothing that connects. 1. How are the channels performing? Are there regional differences by channel? Are there any channel shifts happening? 2. Are there new/emerging channels? Are there existing channels not being developed? 3. What are the strengths/weaknesses of each channel? 4. Do you understand the strategies of the channel partners? 5. Do you have the competencies to service the channel partners? 6. 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? 7. How is each channel performing? 8. How are brands doing within each channel? What are the main reasons for each brand’s channel strength/weakness? 9. Who is the category captain within your key accounts and why? 10. Who are the top 5 customers? Main strategies? How do we fit into that strategy? Beloved Brands 11 We make brand leaders smarter
  12. 12. We recommend that you dissect your closest competitors looking at positioning, pipeline, pricing, distribution differences, consumer perception, strategies. Chart your competitors’ market share over the past 5-10 years and analyze what you think are the top 3 factors driving and inhibiting their success. Explain the ups and downs whether it was new launches, economic impact, distribution changes or impact of other competitors.  When in a real competitive battle, map out the competitor’s brand plan as best you can: Vision, Analysis, Strategies, Tactics and even assumed budget levels. By getting in the shoes of your competitor, it will help you better understand their mindset, what moves they might make and how they might attack you in the future. This can help you build in a counter-attack in your own Brand Plan Here are 10 questions to kick-start your competitor review 1. Who are the main competitors? How are they positioning themselves? 2. What is their communication, new products and go-to-market strategy? How are they effectively executing against it? 3. What are the competitors operating models, culture and organization? What brands are they focused on as a company? 4. What are your competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats? 5. How are they doing in terms of customer share, market share, P&L, margins, innovation, culture, regulatory advantage 6. Map out the competitors brand plan: vision, goals, strategies and tactics. 7. What is the culture at your competitor and what is the role of the brand in this culture? 8. What is the investment stance and the expected growth trajectory of competitor’s brand? How/where do they invest in their brand What is the marketing and commercial focus? What is their ROI? 9. What is the competitors brand strength/ equity? What drivers/attributes do they own? 10. Any public materials about the competitor, including strategy and financial results? Beloved Brands 12 We make brand leaders smarter
  13. 13. 5. Brand Understand the view of your 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 can also use program tracking (Advertising Tracking) to show how well you are doing behind key marketing activities. You will also be able to get scores that match up to the brand funnel such as awareness (aided, unaided), purchase scores (share of last 5 purchases), uniqueness and purchase intention. We recommend that you look at the internal health and wealth as well as the external health and wealth of the brand. Start by looking at Brand Health For your brand to determine “where are we?” you need to use brand health as a signal of the future brand wealth. While the wealth measures can be seen easily, the deep-dive review helps to uncover the health measures that you can’t always easily see. • Internal Health: The company’s culture and every individual have to realize their impact of the brand on the end customer. Is there an internal beacon that helps guide all employees to Beloved Brands 13 We make brand leaders smarter
  14. 14. understand and live the brand? How much has been communicated about the strategy? Has the idea of the brand been embedded right into the culture in a consistent manner? • External Health: The connection with consumers becomes a source of power for brands. Use the brand funnel to measure how your consumer sees your brand, looking at awareness, trial, repeat to brand loyalty. Build on your strengths and attack your weaknesses before others do. Here are 10 probing questions to assess your Brand Health And use that knowledge to assess your Brand Wealth • Internal Wealth: Everyone in the organization has to be focused on driving profit and value. Brands are like assets with intellectual properties, culture, contracts, ownership that help line up to deliver the brand promise. Is there a clear set of objectives that help guide employees see that they are contributing to and sharing in the brand wealth. • External Wealth:  Healthy brands win in the market. Beloved Brands can leverage success into power and drive wealth by driving higher sales, market shares, premium price points, lower costs, better margins, higher over all profits.
 1. Where do you play? How do you win? What is your current point of difference? Is it own- able, 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 doing on key brand tracking panel data? Penetration? Frequency? Sales per Buyer? Dollars per trip? 5. What are your scores against 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? 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? 10. What is the new product development process in the organization? What is the innovative capability of the organization? Beloved Brands 14 We make brand leaders smarter
  15. 15. When you dig in to the brand finance, the first thing we look at is Gross Margins (top-line profit) which is the Sales Dollars minus the Product Costs. We look at the absolute number and the percentages, then compare over time and versus other brands until we start to see a story. Strong gross margins usually reflects consumer connectivity and power in the marketplace. The second thing we look at is the Contribution Margins (bottom line profits), which is the Sales Dollars minus Product Costs minus the Sales and Marketing Costs. Strong contribution margins are usually a sign of how well the brand is run and how efficiently focused the Marketing is on the programs that deliver. Finally, at the quick assessment stage, look at the sales growth versus the marketing spend growth line. This is a good top-line look to see how the marketing programs are paying back over time. These three questions should kick start you into asking 50 more questions. Here are 10 probing questions to assess Brand Wealth Use a Force Field type analysis to set up your plan A Force Field analysis is best served for those brands in a sustaining position where marketing plays the role of driving innovation and creativity within a box. Always keep in mind that Drivers and Inhibitors are happening now. You can see the impact in the current year. Anything in the future gets moved down to Opportunities and Threats which are not happening but could happen. 1. Your CAGR? (Compound Annual Growth Rate) 2. What are your contribution margins over last 5 years? Margins broken out by product line? 3. What is your budget breakout? Working dollars versus non-working dollars? Media versus production? Consumer versus trade? 4. Pricing Elasticity studies? 5. How are you performing overall and by line of business? 6. What are your current brand/business performance measures? 7. What programs are driving the highest ROI? 8. What is driving your profit? What are you focusing on right now? 9. What are your forecasting error rates? Fill rates? 10. What are the financial pressures you face? Quarterly results? Beloved Brands 15 We make brand leaders smarter
  16. 16. The force field can easily take the issues you are gathering and turn them into a Brand Plan. With the drivers, you want to find a way to continue or even enhance in the new Brand Plan. With the inhibitors, you want to find ways to minimize or reverse. Build plans that take advantage of the opportunities and minimize or eliminate any serious threats. Building a deep-dive Business Review presentation When building your presentation for your management team, we recommend you use each of the 5 sections we have gone through here: Category, Consumers, Channels, Competitors and Brand. We would normally expect to have 3-5 slides for each section, followed by a summary slide. For the analytical slides, here’s some thoughts for a best-in-class slide. Build your story with an analytical conclusion as your headline, then have 2-3 key analytical points of support for the conclusion with a supporting visual or graphs. And finally, include an impact recommendation on EVERY slide. 
 Beloved Brands 16 We make brand leaders smarter
  17. 17. 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.  Beloved Brands Training program At Beloved Brands, we promise to make your team of BRAND LEADERS smarter, so they produce smarter work that drives stronger brand results. 1. How to think strategically: Strategic thinkers see “what if” questions before seeing solutions, mapping out a range of decision trees that intersect and connect by imagining how events will play out. 2. Write smarter Brand Plans: A good Brand Plan provides a road map for everyone in the organization to follow: sales, R&D, agencies, senior leaders, even the Brand Leader who writes the plan. 3. Create winning Brand Positioning Statements: The brand positioning statement sets up the brand’s promise to the consumer, impacting both external communication (advertising, PR or in- store) as well as internally with employees who deliver that promise. 4. Write smarter Creative Briefs: The brief helps focus the strategy so that all agencies can take key elements of the brand plan positioning to and express the brand promise through communication. 5. Be smarter at Brand Analytics: Before you dive into strategy, you have to dive into the brand’s performance metrics and look at every part of the business—category, consumers, competitors, channels and brand. 6. Get better Marketing Execution: Brand Leaders rely on agencies to execute. They need to know to judge the work effectively to ensure they are making the best decisions on how to tell the story of the brand and express the brand’s promise. 7. How to build Media Plans: Workshop for brand leaders to help them make strategic decisions on media. We look at media as an investment, media as a strategy and the various media options—both traditional and on-line. 8. Winning the Purchase Moment: Brand Leaders need to know how to move consumers on the path to purchase, by gaining entry into their consumers mind, help them test and decide and then experience so they buy again and become a brand fan. Beloved Brands 17 We make brand leaders smarter
  18. 18. Graham Robertson at Beloved Brands A NEW WAY to look at Brand Management. Graham is one of the voices of the modern Brand Leader. He started Beloved Brands knowing he could make brands stronger and brand leaders smarter. Beloved Brands will challenge you to think strategically so you can create a Brand Positioning, a Brand Concept and a Big Idea for your brand. Graham will help write Brand Plans that focus everyone who work on the brand and make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce better work that drives stronger brand results. Graham spent 20 years in Brand Management leading some of the world’s most beloved brands at Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, General Mills and Coke, rising up to VP Marketing. Graham played a major role in helping Pfizer win Marketing Magazine’s Marketer of the Year. His public speaking appearances inspire brand leaders to love what they do. Over 4 million marketers have visited his website, with the desire to become smarter.  Graham has served as a contributing author to Advertising Age in the US and Marketing Magazine in Canada. To contact Beloved Brands, email or call 416-885-3911. You can also follow us on Twitter @belovedbrands. Beloved Brands 18 We make brand leaders smarter