by Kenneth Rudich (Editor’s Note: Got 2 minutes? Watch the About M-S-M video. You’ll be glad you did.)
In value chain marketing, the aim of the market characteristics analysis is to gather actionable information about the market for a product or a service. The term actionable means the information will serve a useful purpose once you have it in your hands.
The analysis itself should be set up as a formally structured process, with the idea it will continually inform the strategic learning cycle. Every bit of information gathered must be understood in terms of how it relates back to each component of the value chain. Tracking this on a regular basis will help keep the value chain focused on capturing the full market potential of the product or the service.
It is also worth noting that the market characteristics analysis stands alongside the external forces analysis when conducting a market opportunity scan. These two go hand-in-hand. One without the other will make it nearly impossible to maintain a successful long term strategy.
Several previous posts, including “An Introduction to the Value Chain Approach for Marketing,” have sought to emphasize the importance of keeping these relationships in mind. When it comes to the value chain, everything is interconnected. The objective is to preserve the integrity of those connections over time with sound marketing strategy management.
If you don’t already have a formally structured framework in place for gathering actionable information, then a good place to begin is by developing one. This advice holds true no matter the size or volume of your business.
There’s a broad spectrum of possibilities for doing this. It can be dealt with in-house, it can be outsourced, or it can be a combination of the two. Each business will want something that is suited to serving its particular needs, resources and capabilities.
If you already have a formally structured framework in place, you may want to review it in the wake of asking whether it is sufficient or could be better. Does it inform the strategic decision-making process all across the value chain?
Even if it once was sufficient, it may not have kept up with your growing need for better information, or the possibilities for obtaining it. As a business matures, its information gathering process should also mature right along with it. This idea was touched upon in the post titled, “Value Chain Marketing-Dynamic Market Segmentation Strategies,” when we discussed how the quality of the information can improve with passing time. Remember, the objective is to know all you can about your customers and prospects, and then use that information to enhance the value chain for them.
It’s probably advisable to consult with an expert on this topic under any circumstance. Even if you already have in-house expertise, a little time with an outside consultant could be very fruitful. An outsider can often see things insiders tend to miss – much like a proofreader will often catch things a writer overlooked.
In future posts, we’ll look more closely at the process of developing a market characteristics analysis framework — what it entails, how to make it useful in terms of delivering actionable information, and how to know if you’re getting the most out of it.
Meanwhile, you can get a head start on learning more about this topic by reading some of the related posts in the “Market Analysis” category under “Featured Topics” on the upper left hand side of this page.
See you next time!