About Customer Needs Analysis
Customer needs analysis is used in a variety of product and brand management contexts, including Concept Development, development of the Core Product Concept, Product Development, Value Analysis, and Means-End Analysis (also known as Value Analysis, Value Chain Analysis, or Customer Value Analysis).
Our customer needs analysis surveys are developed to provide the most in depth understanding of your market and customers.
Our rigorous approach to studying the customer will help any company understand the customers’ needs and their position in the overall market. Customer needs analysis is a means-end approach, meaning that product purchase decisions are the means to a value based goal or state. This powerful research technique has been used to place US presidents into office, successfully re-image industries, achieve competitive advantage over the competition through target advertising messages, and to design innovative and successful new products.
Means-end analysis focuses on developing a core dimension mapping of the three part linkage that exists between product features or attributes, the functional and psycho-social product benefits or consequences derived from those attributes, and the personal (functional, physical, financial, social, and psychological) values that add importance to the underlying benefits (positive and negative consequences) of purchase.
One study for the development of a new bank credit card found that nine attributes were critical to consumers considering a new card: no annual fee, status, low interest rate, added value features, acceptance, credit limit, ability to carry a balance, location of the sponsoring bank, and availability. These attributes were found to be linked to 12 benefits (consequences) that were perceived as part of card usage: not feeling cheated, independence, convenience, dependability, and saving money.
Approaches Used to Elicit Brand Attitudes
Positive and negative associations for the brand or product category are elicited, along with reasons why the characteristic is viewed that way. Top-of-mind studies are used to uncover the attributes and consequences that distinguish the characteristic.
Brand Category Analysis
Identifies similar and dissimilar brand groupings within a product category and the reasons for this perceived similarity or dissimilarity. The primary reasons, most important attributes, and most representative brands are identified and attributes and consequences are laddered.
Contextual Environment Scan
The usage context for a brand or product is critical in marketing. Physical occasions (place, time, people), or need state occasions (relaxing, rejuvenating, building relationships, feeling powerful, reducing stress, and getting organized) may exist. A brand or product is associated with a usage context that is critical in effective positioning and advertising.
Comparing brands based on personal preference or usage is a common distinguishing point for brands. Similarity and dissimilarity groupings also provide a direct method of distinguishing between brands. Success critical attributes and consequences are identified that lead to higher market performance.
Purchase and Consumption Timing
Issues are often related to product or brand choice and usage. For example, a respondent might be asked to identify products used for relief of a stuffy nose… across several stages like onset, full-blown, and on-the-mend, or daytime and nighttime. Brand preference is identified for each time-related stage.
Past and expected future usage of a brand is instrumental in identifying attributes and consequences that lead to different usage patterns. For example, respondents may be asked, “Will this brand be used more often, less often, or about the same as you have used it in the past?” Then, reasons for increased, decreased, or unchanged usage are determined. The follow-up analysis of reasons for trends produces a vivid insight into market drivers and potential areas of market growth.
Product or Brand Substitution Analysis
Product and brand substitution methods elicit the degree of similarity of perceived attributes and consequences associated with usage. When questions are asked about the degree of substitutability, attributes and consequences are discovered that inhibit or promote substitution (attributes or consequences that need to be added or removed for substitution or trial to occur). For an unfamiliar brand, the respondent first can sample or be given a description of the brand, followed by questions like: how likely would you be to substitute (name of the new brand) for your current brand for this occasion—why is that?
Alternative Usage Occasions
Alternative uses are presented to the respondent to determine if and why the brand is present or absent from the choice set. Questions might be phrased to ask: Why would you consider using Brand A for this occasion, or What is keeping you from using Brand A for this occasion now? Both positive reasons why a brand fits a new occasion and negative reasons why it does not fit can be elicited. Alternative usage occasion analysis identifies market segments and details how to approach them.