Brand Growth: 7 Ways to Identify Unmet Customer Needs

Posted by Mitch Duckler
7 Strategies to Identify Unmet Customer Needs for Brand Growth

Brand leaders often struggle with successfully refreshing their brands to differentiate and grow. The challenge isn't imaginary, and ‘sitting on one’s corporate laurels’ won’t solve the problem. It’s tempting and certainly easier to ride the status quo, especially when your sales and profits figures meet or exceed expectations. However, leaders must always identify bigger, better bets to succeed in today’s manic business world.

As evolving trends turn the business world upside down, meeting rapidly changing customer needs is imperative for success. Why? If you aren’t prepared, unmet customer needs in your business can lead to opportunities for your competitors to disrupt.

And let’s face it, regardless of the industry you’re in, no customer will think about buying a product or a service from you unless they actually need it or at least think they need it.

So, how do you go about identifying unmet customer needs? When aiming for differentiation and growth, your best opportunity is to identify solutions your customers need and want. Being on the leading edge of emerging trends and overcoming customer pain points disrupt the category and accelerates growth. Here are a few real-life examples:

  • Uber evolved the way the world gets from place to place by creating a mobile app that connects people who need a ride with people who want to provide a ride. The result? A better experience for riders.
  • Google is no longer simply a tool for typing in keywords and generating 15 pages of potentially relevant search results. Just tell Google what you’re interested in, and your smart home speaker will turn your wish into results. With just a few words, Google provides anyone, anywhere with access to the world’s information.
  • Gone are the days certain products are attainable only by the wealthy or well-connected. Walmart commoditized many products to help people save money and live better.

The key is to find that insight that will unlock a great solution. Here are seven recommendations our brand consultants rely on:

  1. Identify industry trends: Do some homework and identify key trends that may disrupt your industry based on customer needs. End-of-year blog posts, white papers, and research reports from industry associations are a great source of trend data.
  2. Perform a competitive analysis: This intelligence will keep you abreast of vital new features and functionality that customers are looking for and that your competitors think will be the next big deal.
  3. Mine your dataChat logs, purchase history, reviews, forums, and social media are a fantastic source of consumer opinions, needs, desires, and complaints, all of which are just waiting to be converted from an unmet need to anxiously desired new feature/product.
  4. Conduct interviews: Businesses go to great lengths to stand out in their market. Today’s best innovations have been discovered by simply taking the time to pay attention to a customer’s unmet need. Conduct qualitative research, including semi-structured discussions/interviews, with a wide range of consumers. Listen to category and brand users and non-users to learn how and why they do and don’t use your products. Listen for white space and unmet needs.
  5. Conduct ethnographic researchUndertake consumer immersion work to see first-hand via co-creation groups or ethnography exactly how customers feel/interact with/consider your brand/products/services.
  6. Conduct quantitative researchLearn more about your customers. Understand who you need to win with and how to win with them with robust quantitative research. Conduct usage and attitudes and segmentation research to define and quantify potential target groups.
  7. Conduct VOC researchReview real-time feedback through ‘voice of the customer’ learnings to track what customers are saying to grasp new trends quickly.

These activities help brands uncover critical insights about unmet needs. They also help to uncover big, bold ideas to kick-start discussions and decisions that will transform those ideas into meaningful solutions for customers. Unmet needs are opportunities that can spell differentiation in a crowded marketplace.

It may take some effort to uncover what these unmet needs are, but as soon as you do, it positions you front and center and exactly where your customers are looking. This is how brands become disrupters to create growth and success.

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