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Hello, Kevin Namaky here, and today we’re going to talk about how to find information for a strategic landscape assessment.
When you’re writing a landscape analysis, it can be difficult to figure out where to begin — where do I find information, where do I look, what kind of information do I collect, etc. Generally speaking, there are some areas that we should usually look for when it comes to our landscape assessments.
6 C’s Model
There’s a common model out there for where to look when you do a typical landscape assessment called the 6 C’s. You may have heard of it and you can probably find more information about it on the internet. For reference, the 6 C’s include the following:
In this video, I’m not going to go through these in detail. Instead, I like to use a framework that’s a bit more specific than the 6 C’s.
8 Key Areas of Information for Strategic Landscape Analysis
When thinking through what to include in a landscape analysis, there are eight key areas I like to use.
1. Challenge & Background Information
Challenge or background information is a bit more high level compared to what else might be in the landscape. Look at things like company strategy, business or brand strategy, the goals for the business or brand, the vision of where the brand’s going, and the business problems related to your challenge at hand.
Example inputs of things you might look for include, profit and loss statements, financial information, etc. You may not need everything on this list or you might need more, it’s really meant to illustrate examples that might fall into each category.
Then, sources are the actual places you would look for this information as a starting point. Some sources of challenge and background information might include corporate plans, business unit strategy, brand strategy, etc. You might do interviews with project or cross-functional stakeholders. Or you might look at previous project plans, reports, or materials that were created in related projects.
2. Brand Health
When looking into brand health, you’re assessing the status of the brand in the marketplace and in the minds of consumers. This may include brand profile, positioning statements, architecture, or other brand strategy information. You’ll want to see if this information is well-defined and if there’s a strong strategy or not. You also may look at data points like brand awareness, perceptions or equities that the brand has in the marketplace. You can also look at sales data including penetration, buy-rate, and loyalty. All of these give you indications of the health of the brand, its strengths and weaknesses.
In order to find this information, you can look at sources like brand foundational tool documents, brand strategy material, and research studies that may have been done by external companies. You can also look at panel data to get penetration, loyalty, and buy-rate—companies like Nielsen or Numerator would be able to offer those services.
3. Consumer Insight
Consumer insights, or customer insights if you’re in a B2B space, include profiling, demographics, and psychographics. You should also aim to understand tensions or problems the consumer faces, drivers in the category, needs states in the category, occasions, etc.
Some places you can look are in consumer research, qualitative or quantitative studies, segmentations, or even secondary research—research that other companies have done or that you are securing from outside the organization.
Category information includes understanding the size of the category, the segments within the category, the penetration of the category, the seasonality of the category, and the way the sales curves look. There may also be geographic implications or nuances to the category.
This information can be secured from customer point of sale (POS) data or scanner data. Nielsen and IRI are typical examples of POS sources. You might also conduct store walks to get a sense of what’s going on in the category.
Competition is similar to category, but drilling down one level to look specifically at the competitive aspects. You should understand brands in the category that are competing against each other and look at their portfolios, market shares, growth rates, and strengths/weaknesses. Also look at innovation that the competition is launching and the pace of innovation. Advertising is also helpful to look at.
Sources of this information include conducting retail audits. You can subscribe to ad tracking services to get an understanding of competitors’ advertising, including what channels they’re using, the actual creative, what they’re saying, how much they’re spending, etc. Then you can also look at consumption data at the competitive/product level.
If you’re a traditional CPG brand and are selling through customers or distributors, then you’ll want to understand what’s happening with competitive distribution, and then look at your own brand’s distribution. What are the strengths from a distribution standpoint? Who are the strongest and best customers and channels, and where are the gaps—both at a brand level and individual product level in the portfolio? You should also understand things like margins and shares.
You may find this information in strategic documents or supply chain documents. Consumption data and shipment data is also useful here.
Trends can encompass a lot of what we’ve covered so far, but the reason I like to specifically call these out separately is because it forces you to think about, not just what is true or happening now or what has happened in the past, but the patterns over time and things changing in the future. You should look at shifts over time in the data, innovations, changes in the category, demographic changes, cultural changes or regulatory changes—looking at the macro environment as well as at your company and the category.
In order to secure data you will likely have to go outside your company to get additional information or to supplement your landscape. You can look at things like secondary research/trend reports, industry publications, trade news, articles, etc.
For technology and capability, you should look at core technical strengths, the technologies used in your products and services, and compare them to your competitors. What are the costs of entry versus differentiating technologies? What do we have access to or not have access to? And what might be coming in the future that we could have access to?
In order to get this information, you should talk to your Research & Development department, your supply chain, go on factory tours, understand your own supply chain and how products are made, and interview technical/sourcing experts. You can also enlist cross-functional partners to help uncover information that will help build out this section.
Putting it All Together – Landscape Analysis Cheat Sheet
If you use these eight “buckets” when collecting information for your landscape analysis, it will help make your next landscape analysis stronger. You don’t necessarily have to collect everything on this list, and conversely there may be things you need that aren’t on this list. It’s simply meant to give you a starting point so you can determine for yourself what’s important.
Use the link below to download a cheat sheet that will help you cover all the appropriate areas in your next strategic landscape analysis.
TEACH YOUR BRAND TEAM HOW TO WRITE A STRATEGIC LANDSCAPE ANALYSIS
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Or if you need direct help with a specific strategic or innovation challenge, click here to learn more about brand consulting opportunities.
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- Writing Great Landscape Assessments
- How to Write a Project Brief for Strategy & Innovation
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- Brand Team Training
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Kevin Namaky is CEO at the Gurulocity Brand Management Institute, a marketing education company that trains and consults for notable brand teams including Kimberly-Clark, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bolthouse Farms and Gorilla Brands. Kevin is a featured instructor for the American Marketing Association, lectures at the IU Kelley School of business, and has been featured in Ad Age, Forbes, Fast Company and the CMO Council. Previously Kevin worked for 20 years in the corporate and agency world growing notable brands. Follow Kevin on LinkedIn.