Growth in mature markets becomes increasingly difficult; the only way to find ways to grow is to have a systematic framework to look for breakthrough opportunities. In ‘Identifying and Solving Marketing Problems With Gap Analysis’, Professor John A. Weber of Notre Dame has created a great framework that allows you to analyse the gaps in your market:
1. Natural changes in the size of industry market potential: Will the likely changes in demographics and economic outlook favour your industry?
2. New uses or new user segments. Can your product appeal to new users? Can your product be used in a different way?
3. Innovative product differentiations. Can you look at new variants? For example, diet colas have become big for the cola brands.
4. Add new product lines.
5. Stimulate non-users. Can you somehow persuade your non-users to use your brand?
6. Stimulate light users. Can your current light users be persuaded to consume more?
7. Increase amount used on each use occasion. We have all heard of how toothpaste manufacturers increased the width of the nozzle to get more toothpaste out per brushing. Can you do that with your product?
8. Close existing product and price gaps. Would new sizes help?
9. Create new product-line elements. Would new flavours or perfumes help?
10. Expand distribution coverage.
11. Expand distribution intensity.
12. Expand distribution exposure. Can you get your brand more exposure in its current outlets?
13. Penetrate substitutes’ position. Can you convince people that your product is better than its substitutes?
14. Penetrate direct competitor/s’ position. Can you get consumers to switch?
15. Defend firm’s present position. Can you retain loyalty?
If you are looking at ways of increasing the sales of your product, especially if you are operating in a mature market, looking at all the possible gaps could help you to find some unique, breakthrough ideas that may not have struck you earlier.