Using Continuous Intelligence to Identify Unmet Needs

We aren’t mind readers, but consumers expect us to be. They want brands to infer what they want without having to spell it out. Luckily, continuous intelligence provides mind reading powers that facilitates meaningful insights to please any global consumer base.

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And this is good news, because consumers are fickle when it comes to their wants and desires, as these stats bear out:

As we shared in a recent webinar with SCIP, How to Accelerate Your Business with Continuous Competitive Intelligence, consumers are well aware that brands need them, and they aren’t afraid to jump ship if they don’t like something. Staying aware of their needs and wants, as well as staying current with trending norms in their eyes, is a critical piece of the consumer research puzzle. And it offers brands a world of opportunities – let’s explore a few.

Distinguishing Between Unmet Needs & Whitespace

The line between unmet needs and whitespace sometimes becomes blurred. And though they may be similar, they are very different beasts. However, brands need to uncover both to stay on top of consumers’ wants, needs and desires.

Let’s take a look at what differentiates these two complex categories.

Understanding Unmet Needs

Unmet needs are things consumers know they want. In fact, they’re talking about the right now with someone online. They may be describing what they need from Brand X on a personal level – maybe how communication happens or activity around some sort of social activism – and a brand listening and doing so would create a different level of loyalty, as the consumer would feel heard and aligned with that brand’s values.

Or consumers may simply be discussing the flavor of a product they enjoy that they wish you offered.

The point is, they’re talking. And using continuous intelligence to do a bit of social listening can help you uncover these extremely important conversations.

 

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It’s these tidbits that will guide your brand in its next move or just simply affirm that you’re doing things right. Or perhaps, you’re already offering precisely what they want – and you merely need to adjust your marketing and ads to highlight it a little more clearly.

And unmet needs span not just products and innovations, but customer service and brand attributes as well. Finding these consumer desires will open your eyes to how you’re doing not just on production and marketing level, but also internally, on your consumer relations side.

Let’s say there’s an issue that consumers are unhappy with, and it’s one that’s recurring. Ongoing monitoring will flag the conversations, pinpointing the problem, so you can address it with lightning speed, and also very specifically – getting to the root of the problem before it takes hold and spreads. Unmet needs understanding is an important part of brand health management too.

Now, with whitespace, consumer needs may not be as crystalized.

Whitespace Identification for the Win

There may be sort of a vague desire for savvy brands to jump on an opportunity and create a new offering – even, perhaps, a new category.

Think of whitespace mapping as keeping your brand relevant. It becomes easy to fall into the daily routine of tracking and monitoring for unmet needs. It’s just as routine as getting up, having coffee, brushing your teeth and heading to work. You do it so often, you don’t have to think hard about it. So, at times, we forget, we need to shut off auto pilot and shake things up. It is critical to know what your competitors are doing in a given space, and any whitespace opportunities that your brand can take advantage of that will overshadow the competition. Is there a gap in a specific market? This is the sort of thing that a whitespace investigation can answer.

Also – identifying these spaces keeps your brand current. Culture is constantly evolving, and so a brand needs to evolve as well. And that’s what uncovering whitespaces can provide – the opportunity to evolve with the culture and take the lead on a new and promising venture that has the capability of propelling brand awareness and capturing significant market share. Identifying whitespaces can lead to the discovery of unexpected adjacencies or innovations which can influence new designs. Or perhaps it will help a brand build upon experiences for the consumer. These opportunities would be missed without whitespace mapping and continuous intelligence.

So, now on to finding these unmet needs and whitespaces. Luckily, it’s a lot easier than it used to be!

Finding Unmet Needs & Whitespace Opportunities

So, how does one find these spoken, yet undiscovered and unmet needs? With ongoing monitoring using continuous intelligence it becomes easy to spot indicators which point to consumers’ unmet desires and market opportunities.

When trying to locate unmet needs, you want to find those conversations that may deviate from the norm. And these could include many different things, such as a theme with a higher proportion of posts by a female or male. Or it could be topic with an unusually high amount of positive or negative sentiment. Or even a discussion about your brand on a less common form of social media. It’s in these types of clusters that real change can be found, if you’re looking for it.

Below are outlier conversations surrounding a top CPG brand in the drink category. Highlighted in blue are those posts that deviate away from the overall network. Any of these conversations could be probed for new opportunities:

One conversation in Corn Syrup references putting peanuts in Coca-Cola, and it’s the topic of a podcast:

corn-syrup-reddit-conversation

Pairing these two unlikely products could hit nostalgia points for anyone who grew up in the South – as this is a Southern classic. Is it an unmet need though? It could be an opportunity for a new ad and a way to connect on a personal level with consumers in certain regions of the world.

Or perhaps it’s best left alone. Only continuous intelligence could tell you this before you jump in with both feet holding a carbonated beverage and some roasted peanuts!

And then there are the whitespace opportunities.

Ghost Kitchens exploded onto the market prior to 2020, but the pandemic only fueled their popularity. If you’re not familiar with the term, you may know it as delivery only restaurants. You can’t dine in, but you can order it and have it delivered. And you can see why, during the height of COVID-19, they became an essential part of our reality.

The point here is, no one knew we needed them, but the market did! And that is how a number of great ideas get their start; they’re floating around in whitespace somewhere until a savvy brand discovers it. You want to be that brand!

And there are many ways to uncover these golden tickets to innovation. First, you need to know what the conversation is. Once you have a handle on it, it’s time to explore further into the tangle of categorical conversations.

Below market intelligence reveals posts and stories and their attached engagements as well as published count. And though you may be used to smaller companies operating Ghost Kitchens, this scatterplot reveals that bigger brands are getting on board. Wendy’s has plans for 700 of them, in fact:

ghost-kitchen-white-space

What makes this a whitespace opportunity is the low published count combined with higher engagement rates. And it looks like Wendy’s was doing its homework all around as they’re partnering with start-up REEF Technology. Additionally, when we dive in, the sentiment surrounding it is positive – this all points to a win.

Getting in on the ground level of something that’s already appearing underutilized and successful means your brand will likely rise like cream if it hits the trend early on. And even though you may not get to be the leader (this time), you can copy a good move and still be one of the early adopters. That’s a powerful position to hold as well.

Partnering with Influencers for Enhanced Audience Understanding

Once you have that whitespace captured, or that unmet need recognized, it’s time to put your findings to work! And an influencer is a great way to get your message out there in a timely fashion.

The global influencer marketing market has more than doubled since 2019. Additionally, 92% of consumers trust influencers over an advertisement. So, it makes sense to use them as a way to get your new idea in front of consumers’ eyes.

But it’s not just about showing off your product or idea, but harnessing the power of an influencer to connect on a deeper level with the many various audiences that are connected to your brand. You’ll even be able to connect with some that may not be in your field of vision yet – influencers have a way of reaching (and identifying) those that you may not be able to.

Your brand’s consumers are made up of more than just a few demographics of male/female and age brackets. They’re more complex than that. They have different ideas, dreams, goals, likes and dislikes. Which is why it’s important to have targeted messaging. Partnering with an influencer will help you better communicate with these many different groups on a level they will relate to. And using language they already have a comfort level with.

Additionally, influencers span across channels. If you know you need to improve your brand’s share of voice or even brand awareness on specific social media platforms, then an influencer can help you do just that.

Continuous Intelligence is key to uncovering opportunities that may have otherwise been missed. Your next big thing is just around the corner, or rather waiting in the white space! It won’t wait forever though, reach out for a demo!

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