Customers’ Customers Analysis©: is a unique organizational assessment ttool pioneered by Rick O’Sullivan that has proved extremely successful in helping to reposition both private sector firms and nonprofit organizations around the globe. In 1990 serving as the manager of economic and industry research for a supplier to small businesses, I was tasked to determine how to respond to a recession wracking the small business market. Since the average post-war recession lasts 11 months and the firm's product development cycle was 24, I advised that they not respond the recession but, instead, focus on how the forces that would drive the recovery would affect new small business formations and expansions and in which sectors. 

By focusing – not on our customers – but the markets that our customers served, I discovered many new, untapped market opportunities. With the corporate downsizing of the 1990s, new small businesses would be business-to-business focused rather than business-to consumer, the primary target of the firm’s product line.  I also saw that the then nascent electronic commerce movement would shift small business's needs from transaction products (e.g. business forms, etc.) to marketing products, another of the firm’s bind spots.  I also targeted exports as a key recovery driver.  At the time, my employer had no products that would help customers selling into foreign markets. These discoveries gave this firm a two-year jump on what would become the hottest small business markets of the 1990s and early 2000s.

Since then, I have used this approach with associations and other nonprofit organizations around the world to identify the changes to their markets that would create new needs that these organizations were not addressing and cause stakeholders to lose interest in their organizations. The approach has helped numerous organizations change how they serve their members.  In three cases, it led to the identification of whole new professions, one a medical specialty recognized by the American College of Radiology.

More generally Customer’s Customers Analysis© looks like this:

Customers’ Customers Analysis©:   When sales fall and customers drop off, most firms respond with “customer education campaigns to re-entice customers back.  In a 30-year career, I have yet to find the product languishing because the customer was at fault.  Instead, we counsel clients to look outside the organization to identify what changes have occurred in their customers’ markets that have made the organization's current service and product offerings suddenly less relevant.  Customers’ Customers Analysis© examines what factors changed your customers priorities and demands that simply were not on your radar.

Sustainability Toolkit

Customers' Customers Analysis©

Demand Network Mapping©

Industry Benchmarking©

Alternative Futures Strategic Planning

Cage Analysis


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