Very often a brand's business problems are described in a fuzzy, unspecific way. Lots of planners even believe, "real problems to be solved" arise rather on communication or "customer perceptions" level. So one level "after" business problems. The reason for this thinking is mostly not laziness but rather the lack of time, money & tools to asses & nail down concrete, distinct business problems. (Though I must admit that young people are just not taught to think in terms of business problems beyond - or rather beneath - "The brand needs more awareness" or "The brand needs to engage the target group".) Bain & Co show us how this could be done in a more skillful way. I wish, planners in agencies had access to such insights.
Example quoted from Bain & Co's paper:
The Bain Brand Accelerator process revealed a series of surprising insights that helped explain why the brand's growth had slowed and why past efforts had not gained traction.
First, the team found that the company needed to reassess its strategy for where to play. Fully two-thirds of Delicious Co.'s actual sales were coming from usage occasions that were flat or shrinking due to changes in consumer behaviors that were unlikely to reverse. The behaviors that had driven growth for decades were now in decline. In the past, the majority of advertising spend and innovation activity had been aimed at breathing new life into these core occasions. Now, a deep understanding of why the occasions were shrinking made it clear to Delicious Co. that this strategy was unlikely to be successful.
But there was good news. The decline in the core was being mostly offset by organic growth and momentum in emerging occasions where loyalists and younger users were using the brand in new ways, such as in recipe ingredients and ready-to-eat snacking. It was especially surprising to see growth of the brand as a recipe ingredient—which had not been formally developed at all. Delicious Co. realized it had an opportunity to capitalize on these emerging pockets of momentum.
The team also found that despite conventional wisdom, the recipe ingredient occasion was the right place to focus—not ready-to-eat snacking. When the Delicious Co. team rigorously evaluated Snacking—for example, by studying the true competitive set, occasion by occasion—it became clear that the winnable portion of the ready-to-eat snacking option for Delicious Co. was much smaller than the company anticipated. Further, the economics were less attractive, and the operational investments to be made would be substantial.
In contrast, the recipe ingredient market was very large, the behavior was growing and it presented attractive margins. More important, Delicious Co. had distinct assets in this occasion, as its product had unique advantages over the competition. But the existing product portfolio was wrong for recipe ingredients—there were significant barriers in taste, consistency, education and packaging. A deep dive into consumer behavior in these areas, using such techniques as statistical cluster analysis and ethnographies, identified the key dishes to focus on and precise issues to address with innovation and advertising."
Read the whole article here:
Also read my short text about setting communication objectives - which deals rather with issues AFTER real business problems have been nailed down. But it still talks about being specific and knowing your main lever. Read it here: