A gap analysis is an assessment tool that helps businesses determine the amount of difference (or “gap”) between where they currently are and where they want to be in the future. A large gap separating a company’s desired allocation and use of its resources and its actual allocation and usage can highlight issues that need to be addressed and remedied for optimal performance down the road.
Gap analyses can be used to examine a variety of company foci, from workplace organization and product placement to customer engagement and market potential. Whatever the case, the process is the same: Companies must identify their future goal(s), access their current situation and then act. But such objectives can not be addressed without quality market research first providing the numbers needed for analysis.
Take a look at how market research can help uncover the four key components affecting a company’s performance:
Identification of Known Gaps
Sometimes this is as easy as knowing your competitor is going to be bringing a bigger, better product to the market or that your customer service department is short 10 positions. Sometimes it isn’t. Surveying and interviewing your teams and employees can give you a good starting point for further in-depth research and gap analysis.
Identification of Potential Gaps
Oftentimes, potential gaps directly correlate to unknown competitive intelligence. And primary market research is the best way to uncover those issues affecting your company’s bottom line. Use a SWOT analysis to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. From there, you can craft questionnaires, surveys, interviews, ethnographic studies, brainstorming sessions and focus groups in such ways that the most relevant information is gathered for you to further study.
Identification of Triggers
In addition to providing a snapshot of your current market relevance and efficiency, market research can help businesses uncover the events and announcements that could “trigger” performance gaps in the future. Patent applications, impending legislation, published research studies and census information are all secondary sources that can help companies pinpoint those things which might cause potential shifts in their standing within the market.
Identification of Trends
Finally, a gap analysis should always consider the societal trends that could impact a company’s effectiveness and growth. Demographic and technological trends are especially important when trying to predict product performance. The world is moving ever more quickly. Products are getting smaller and cheaper. People are talking and sharing things in ways they didn’t in the past. Recognizing changing dynamics can help companies gain knowledge and close the gaps between their targeted goals and their realities.
To learn more about market research and its impact on meaningful gap analysis, contact Communications for Research (CFR) to speak to our co-CEO Colson Steber. If you haven’t already, we can help you create realistic future goals, as well as uncover what’s working or not working for competitors and how you measure against them. We can then develop strategies and tactics to put you at the top of your game.
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