STEP 3. GAP ANALYSIS
With all this information in hand, you next need to figure out what you know and what you don’t know. These are obviously judgments, but someone has to determine if the knowledge you have collected is sufficient, reliable and where any gaps may lie. A Bain & Co survey of 362 firms found that 80% believed they delivered a superior customer experience. But customers said that only 8% of companies were really delivering. If they had checked their assumptions with their customers, they would have known this.
AS WITH MOST THINGS IN LIFE, MISTAKES AND OMISSIONS MADE EARLY ARE OFTEN AMPLIFIED LATER ON.
That’s why making sure your conclusions are based on inputs that are as fresh, comprehensive and reliable as is practicably possible, is common sense. This is even more important considering how fast the market, the competition and consumers change today. Sony, for example, was focused on a brick & mortar strategy for stores, but because they only stocked 70% of their catalogue in the stores, they had a gap in their offering and customer experience. Fresh research showed that the integration of stores and the internet would not only close the gap, but also serve the growing consumer desire to experience a product in a store and then buy it online, called “showrooming.” Great is often the enemy of good, so since that there is usually not enough time and money to do everything perfectly, close as many gaps as you can under your circumstances.
The synthesis of all the knowledge you have gathered will form a picture of your consumer, your brand’s perception, your category and your competition. Some unanswered questions, like what your consumer’s social responsibility priorities are, you might feel comfortable bypassing. Whereas other questions, such as what your audience values in terms of benefits, will need to be answered before you make decisions. It’s always painful to stop the momentum towards actually getting things done, but if you hit a big question mark, you have to stop and find out the answers with fresh research.
EVEN A SMALL PIECE OF ORIGINAL RESEARCH WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS OR YOUR PROSPECTS IS BETTER THAN NOTHING AT ALL.
Studies can be fielded using many inexpensive modern techniques easily and quickly. Research doesn’t have to break the bank. Solutions run from online panels to focus groups. There are hundreds of research options, both quantitative and qualitative. Different questions require different approaches:
- Who is my audience? (quant)
- How do they make purchase decisions? (quant)
- How do they feel about specific brands/trends? (qual)
- What problems do they have in getting what they need? (qual+quant)
- What are they thinking, feeling when they are shopping? (qual)