Consumers can be fickle, and their needs and wants can change at the drop of a hat. Your ability to pivot as a brand is critical to staying ahead of the curve and meeting consumer needs. And there are a good number of unmet consumer needs floating around out there, waiting to be found. But how is this done?
Using consumer intelligence, we’ll explore how to extract unmet consumer needs by:
- Auditing online consumer conversations
- Pinpointing and then meeting consumers’ unmet desires
- Drawing in new lookalike customers
The importance of pivoting to meet unmet needs is clear:
- McDonalds exceeded its analyst forecast of $5.4 billion when they chose to incorporate digital options and delivery
- The pandemic changed 85% of consumer food habits – emphasizing how critical it is to monitor for changes in consumer behavior
Understanding Emerging Conversations
The key to any brand’s growth is meeting consumers’ needs, and central to this is identifying what needs are going unmet, specifically. Take food delivery as an example. Before the pandemic, savvy brands like McDonalds jumped on this delivery train as the demand for this option grew.
Fast forward to 2020, and McDonalds exceeded analyst forecasts of $5.4 billion as other quick serves struggled. They attribute this to investment in digital options and delivery. With a little consumer research, they were able to locate an unmet need and pivot to meet it, resulting in higher ROI – and the ability to thrive in a global pandemic.
So, what emerging conversations are consumers having now that you’re missing out on? And could they help your brand stand out? Continuing with food delivery, consumer intelligence captured in Quid Social showcases some key discussions happening around this segment. After a year of being secluded indoors and moving little, consumer conversation around food delivery options are increasing – even as things are opening up.
One option that’s continuously tossed around in these industry conversations are Ghost Kitchens. These commercial kitchens, often using repurposed office buildings or even shipping containers, are used to prepare “home-cooked” meals for delivery only. There’s no dining nor a way to walk up and order – and it could become the next Uber or Airbnb of the industry, as it apparently has staying power. This trend has grown in the past year.
They work directly with food delivery apps, often offering healthier versions of food, or just home cooked yumminess that speaks to consumers (now) refined palettes that crave these healthier options as a ‘go to.’
There has always been a ‘health food’ segment, but that has now expanded to include ‘healthier’ folks. It’s kind of like the vegan curious and flexitarians driving the need for more expansive vegetarian and vegan options. No matter what industry you’re in, identifying unmet needs is critical to keeping your customers and gaining new ones. Exploring the many conversations consumer intelligence and consumer behavior studies provide is a solid first step.
Identifying Unmet Needs
So, with the pandemic changing 85% of consumer food habits, and 43% of people saying they followed a specific diet over the last year, it’s important to figure out how this affects their food choices.
Discovering whether the changes were in a plant-based diet, low carb, flexitarian, Keto or any of the other options has the ability to set your brand apart by offering something more catered to consumers’ tastes. With consumer insights and research you can play hero to their hungry damsel in distress.
Looking at one faction of healthy eating via consumer intelligence, we see a rise in plant-based conversation over the past two years. Going meatless has picked up steam, and this is supported by stats citing that vegan products rose by 90% this past year. The conversation dipped at the end of 2019, but has continued gain in sentiment over the past year. People are warming up to the idea.
If your consumers are looking for more plant-based options and you’re only offering hamburgers, you are in danger of losing some of your customers for lack of variety, and alienating any potential new ones.
Kroger stores recognized this and began experimenting with meals from ghost kitchens as well as meal kits. And their meal kit business, Home Chef increased 118% in the most recent fiscal year. Kroger didn’t wait for the grass to grow under them, instead they listened to consumers and adapted to their needs.
Finding New Customers
It’s six times more expensive to gain new customers than it is to keep the ones you already have. And this is accomplished by nurturing and tending to the unmet needs of your present clientele. Also, you could naturally attract new ones with very little effort – as they’ll love you so much, they’ll tell their friends. And that is better marketing than anything money could buy.
There have been a handful of business that have indeed chosen this route – most notably perhaps Burger King, which debuted their Impossible Whopper.
They didn’t switch entirely to vegan options, instead they used a flexitarian approach and incorporated them into their existing menu. Walmart now carries Impossible plant based meat options. And more recently Starbucks tested out an all plant-based menu. It hasn’t been fully integrated into any of its locations yet, but it’s definitely a sign of the times. They are slowly introducing more vegan options with each passing month.
Once you’ve identified an unmet need, it’s time to target your audience. One of the many ways consumer intelligence breaks this down is demographically. This helps a brand easily identify who is talking and adjust marketing strategies as needed.
As you may have guessed, many of the consumers discussing plant-based options are among the Millennial crowd, however coming in second to them, we see Generation X and the Boomers.
There isn’t just one age group demanding a switch, it’s many different generations looking for healthier options – and seeking to purchase from brands that offer this kind of variety. It’s a pretty significant unmet consumer need. Maybe it’s older customers who seeking a new leisurely lunch spot with healthy options, or on-the-go millennials looking for quick meal options between work and play. Extracting this intel will require a bit more psychographic digging, which is easy to do in the right social media listening tool.
Consumer intelligence offers the best insight for identifying unmet needs, hands down. Reach out for a demo of the best social analytics tools, ready to help you pick up the product and service intel consumers are leaving out in the open. Snapping these ideas up first is an exceptional competitive advantage!