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Strategic Communication Research: Situation Analysis


1. Company

  • Basics
    • Company Mission Statement
    • What is the stated Vision for the company?
    • Why was the company started?
    • Core values?
    • Core competencies?  Are they known for something?
    • Financials
      • What are the key drivers of revenue and profit?  Trends?
  • Business Strategy
    • What business does the client believe they are in?
    • What category?
    • Who/what is the competition?
    • What do they perceive are their competitive advantages?
      • When you review information from the Competitive and Consumer sections, do you agree?
    • Ask for proprietary research studies
    • Ask for current & past advertising and promotional efforts
      • What were they designed to achieve?


2.  Category/Industry

  • Identify economic trends
  • What is the health of the category?  Growing?  Not?
  • What type of category is it?  Mature, emerging?  How might this impact your efforts?
  • How is the product/service typically marketed within the category?
    • What are the usual marketing tactics?
      • Does everyone in the category market alike?
  • What external factors might impact the category?
    • Seasonality (Spring season for fashion)
    • Weather (availability of raw materials)


3.  Consumer

  • Begin with relevant trends
    • Societal, lifestyle
  • In general, how do consumers respond to the category?
    • Are they primarily loyal, switchers, deal or variety-seeking?
    • Who are the current customers?
    • Are they the most profitable?
    • What would make them more profitable?
    • Profile them (demographics, psychograpics, attitudes, behavior)
  • Prospects?
    • Profile them (demographics, psychograpics, attitudes, behavior)
    • Barriers?
  • What is the purchase cycle?
  • How does the decision process work?
  • What can you identify about the purchase?
    • High or low involvement?
    • Primarily a rational or emotional decision?
  • Key motivations?
  • Unmet needs?


4.    Competition

  • Be sure to look at direct and indirect competitors
    • It often tells you where the industry is going
    • Don't assume that what works for them will be appropriate for your brand
  • What are they selling?  Dissect competitive strategies
    • Identify competitive brand positioning
  • Try to summarize what the competition is doing and why
    • What can you learn from the competition?
  • Think about how your client's brand is positioned in relation to the competition
  • How does your budget compare?

Harold's Doughnuts - The Company

Harold’s Doughnuts – The Company

  1. Identify the company, its mission, vision, values, competencies, financials (revenue drivers & trends)
  2. What business does the client believe they are in?  What category?  Who do they think are their competitors?
  3. What does the client believe are their competitive advantages?
  4. What are their current and past advertising and promotional efforts and what were they designed to achieve?

Where would you find information about the company, its history, its owners, its mission, etc.?

  1. Local newspapers and magazines
    1. Columbia Missourian
    2. Columbia Daily Tribune
    3. Columbia Business Times
    4. Feast
    5. Inside Columbi
    6. Vox Magazine
    7. Savor Columbia
    8. Move Magazine (Maneater)

Harold’s Doughnuts on Social media

  1. Facebook
  2. LinkedIn
  3. Foursquare
  4. Twitter
  5. Instagram

Harold's Doughnuts - The Category

Harold’s Doughnuts – The Category (Industry)

  1. What category/industry does Harold’s Doughnuts belong and operate within?
    1. By NAICS  code – North American Industrial Classification System code
      1. Doughnut Shops
        1. Full-Service Restaurants/Doughnut Shops
      2. Coffee Shops/Doughnut Shops (bakery on premises)
        1. Snacks and non-alcoholic beverage bars
      3. Convenience Stores
        1. Convenience stores with food
      4. Supermarkets and Grocery  Stores with bakeries
        1. Grocery stores
  2. How is the health of the category?  Trending? Dying?
    1. IBISWorld can provide information about industry trends and statistics
  3. What external factors might impact category?

Where would you find information about the doughnut category?

  1.  Trade publications can provide current information on category health and trends
    1. Bake Magazine
    2. Nation’s Restaurant News
    3. Food Business News
    4. Forbes
    5. Convenience Store News
    6. Dawn Food Products
  2. Industry databases - can provide information about the industry/category in which doughnuts do business
    1. IBISWorld
      1. Doughnut Stores in the U.S.
      2. Coffee & Snack Shops in the U.S.
    2. Business Source Premier  Search (donuts OR doughnuts) as a subject

Harold's Doughnuts - The Consumer

Harold’s Doughnuts  - The Consumer

Who eats donuts? When do they consume them?  Where do they purchase them?

  1. Some of the same trade publications (above) will have information about the doughnut consumer.
    1. Market Research sample summary
  2. Consumer research: audience, segmentation, media channels, case studies, research – try WARC (World Advertising Research Center), Business Source Premier for trade publications, Mintel (Research reports & Interactive data – in-store-bakeries, quick service restaurants, etc.
  3. Places where donuts are purchased:
    1. Limited Service Restaurants (LSR)
      1. Doughnut Shops
      2. Coffee Shops
    2. Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) good Mintel report on who uses QSRs
    3. Fast Casual Restaurants (FCR)
    4. Convenient Stores
    5. Grocery Stores
  4. Who buys donuts from each retail outlet?
    1. What is the motivation?
    2. When are doughnuts most often purchased?

Harold's Doughnuts - The Competition

Harold’s Doughnuts  - The Competition

Who are Harold’s Doughnuts competitors?

  1. What companies compete directly with Harold’s in Columbia, MO?
    1. Where can you buy donuts in Columbia?
      1. Supermarkets/Grocery Stores 
      2. Convenience Stores
      3. Other places where donuts/doughnuts are sold
        1. Coffee Shops
        2. Restaurants
        3. Doughnut Shops​
    2. When can you buy donuts from each of these?
    3. How can you buy donuts from each?
      1. Do any have online ordering and delivery or pick up options?
    4. How is Harold’s positioned in the community?
    5. Budgets:  How do they compare?
    6. Advertising/marketing strategies of each?  Where do they advertise?  How and through which channels to they advertise?
  2. You may need to investigate these places to see how well Harold’s is positioned among the competition. 

Situation Analysis


A situation analysis refers to a collection of methods used to analyze an organizations' internal and external environment to understand the organizations capabilities, customers, and business environment. 

A situation analysis requires you to research the company, the category in which they do business, the consumer and the competition. Analyzing the situation helps to determine the health of a business, identifying its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats (SWOT).


In the left column, identify questions to ask about the company, category, consumer and competition

In the right column, apply those questions to Harold's Doughnuts.