As a product marketer, there’s one thing you need to resist; the temptation to make decisions based on a whim, or instinct. Failing to test your assumptions could mark the beginning of a very slippery slope.

To help you make sensible decisions, take a page from the books of fellow PMMs, and turn to the 5c’s of marketing. Particularly suited to small-medium sized businesses, 5c analysis has garnered fans from many corners of the business world thanks to its simplicity and ease.

But what is 5c analysis, and which questions do you need to ask to gain more knowledge about your business? Let’s take a look.

What is 5c analysis?

5c analysis is used by companies to help them evaluate and understand potential challenges they may have to face in the future. By completing the process, you’ll be able to identify which areas of your business are working well and areas for improvement before acting on these pros and cons.

Remember, informed decisions lead to fewer mistakes, which generally speaking, will have a more lucrative outcome for your organization.

What is the 5c model?

Q: How many C’s are in the 5c model?

Unsurprisingly, the 5c model is based around 🥁… 5 fundamental elements, with each area directly linked to your business model.

These are:

  1. Company
  2. Collaborators
  3. Customers
  4. Competitors
  5. Climate

Assessing this quintet will stand you in good stead to gain an overarching understanding of the essential elements of your business.

Questions to ask in a 5c analysis

Asking the right questions forms a huge part of completing an effective 5c analysis.

But what questions do you need to ask to get the most from the process?

Your company

Before you turn your attention to external factors, you need to understand your own business.

Ask yourself questions such as:

  1. What does your business sell?
  2. What are your main products?
  3. What’s your USP?
  4. Why are your customers compelled to purchase from your company?
  5. Where do you gazump your competitors?
  6. Where can you improve?
  7. What are the common perceptions of your business?
  8. Where would your business benefit from an investment?
  9. Which areas of your business would be sacrificed if needs be?
  10. Have you set goals for your business?

You may find yourself flying through these Qs without a problem, but if you’re struggling, don’t sweat it; take a step back and complete a SWOT analysis for your business, (PMA members can download our super-handy SWOT template 😉), then come back to the 5c analysis further down the road.


Remember: When you’re answering these questions the saying ‘honesty is the best policy’ couldn’t be more appropriate.

While self-criticism can be difficult, picking out imperfections and focusing on flaws will help you understand and act upon areas where you’re underperforming. Failing to swallow your pride not only deems the exercise ineffective, but also opens the door for your rivals to swoop in and get the upper hand.

After you’ve answered these questions, suppress your eagerness to push ahead. Instead, reflect on how your answers made you feel. Using your emotional responses, set targets for short and long-term periods.

For example, if you’re upset by how your business is perceived, which methods will you use to alter future perceptions? That said, don’t fall into the trap of taking everything personally and acting on raw emotion - it’s all about striking a balance.

Collaborators

After considering your company, it’s time to switch your focus to anyone you collaborate with; this may be an individual or another company.

Make a list of each of your collaborators noting their main point of contact, in addition to information such as email addresses and telephone numbers.

Questions about your collaborators may include:

  1. Who’s in charge of day-to-day operations at the company?
  2. Do you have a partner that helps you to run the company?
  3. Are there investors or stakeholders within your company?
  4. Who manufactures, markets, and distributes your company’s products?
  5. When you ship products, which company do you use?
  6. Are there any external workers hired by the company, such as freelancers or contractors?
  7. Do you hire a social media executive to create and publish content for your social media accounts?
  8. Are there any external distributors of your product?
  9. Who assists with marketing and/or advertising?
  10. Is there a Copywriter or Content Writer writing company material for you?
  11. Who built your company website, and where is the domain registered?
  12. Who provides your company with financial advice?

This part of the 5c analysis not only brings to light the full extent of how many people it takes to run your business, but it also allows you to pinpoint who is responsible for particular tasks, allowing you to hold particular people accountable for key areas within your setup.

You may also identify a collaborator who you don’t think is contributing effectively. This presents an opportunity to source a replacement for your team who can perform more efficiently.

Customers

Cliches aside, every product marketer needs to understand the customer’s needs come first. After all, without a customer base, your product won’t be shifting anytime soon.

Not only do you need to establish who your customers are, but also how your product aligns with their requirements. It’s not just about generating the initial sale; you want to encourage them to come back for more and build a loyal customer base.

If you understand your customers, this can help you A) develop your product to hone in on what they want, rather than what you want to give them, B) promote it effectively, and C) incorporate messaging that’ll resonate and drive a positive response.

There may be some instances where your target audience comprises more than one segment, in which case, consider the following:

  1. Who is your ideal customer?
  2. Who are your target personas?
  3. Which people are buying your product, currently?
  4. Which are your most popular products? Comparatively, which aren’t selling well?
  5. According to your reviews; which products have been well received? Have any been the subject of negative reviews?
  6. According to analytics, which pages do customers visit frequently on your website?
  7. What do customers find interesting or uninteresting about your product or service?
  8. Is there a particular feature users praise more than others?
  9. How do you liaise with your customers?
  10. Are your customers loyal to your brand, or are your churn rates high?
  11. Have you noticed any trends when running promotional campaigns?
  12. If your customer wants more information about your product or service, where do they register their interest?
  13. Why does your customer choose to buy your product, instead of your competitors’?
  14. Has your customer identified any areas for improvement?

The insights gained by asking these questions can be used to develop a clear cut understanding of your customer, with their answers painting a picture of why they’ve decided to buy your product, as well as any practical steps you can take to make your product even better.

However, getting an in-depth understanding of your customers isn’t straightforward, by any means. Many companies attempt to gain an understanding of their customers and encounter difficulties, so don’t be disheartened if you find yourself in the same situation.

That said, if you’re lucky enough to gain the insights you need, this information can be pivotal in gaining a competitive advantage over other rivals within your industry.

Finally, it’s important to remember customer trends will never remain the same. So, when you learn new information about your customer, revisit your analysis and make the necessary amendments to your strategy.

Competitors

Success doesn’t only hinge on how much you know about your own company. You’ve also got to conduct a competitive analysis to learn all there is to know about who you’re up against.

As well as using competitive intel tools, you also need to ask yourself key questions about your competitors, starting with:

  1. Which companies are you competing with within your industry?
  2. Are your competitors new to the scene, or are they established? Or both?
  3. In comparison, does your company’s product fall short in any areas, when compared to your competitors’?
  4. Read their company reviews to identify their strengths and weaknesses; the feedback can inform your decision making.
  5. Is there a particular type of content being used by your competitors that’s been particularly well-received? If so, could you consider something similar in your content plan?
  6. How are they attracting customers to their brand?
  7. What USPs does your product have to set you apart from other competitors?
  8. Which personas are being targeted by your competitor?
  9. Are they well established on social media platforms?
  10. What do they do that’s different from you?

This is a fundamental stage of the 5c analysis; after all, how can you be expected to compete if you don’t know who you’re competing against? When you know about your competitors’ intricacies, this allows you to exploit their weaknesses and nullify their threat.

Climate

Sometimes, you do everything in your power to bring success to your company, only for external factors to conspire against you.

Whilst considering the climate you’re operating in, you need to pay attention to external factors that have the potential to impact your business operations. This may include changes in the law or emerging technologies. Ask yourself:

  1. Are there viewpoints that could be deemed controversial, insensitive, or unpopular?
  2. Has the economy changed? If so, how will this influence your customers’ buying habits?
  3. If there are innovations that have come to market, should they be deemed a competitor? If so, how can you amend your strategy to counteract its impact?
  4. Upon the introduction of new laws and regulations, consider how new legislation could A) hinder your current practice, or B) open up potential new avenues for your business.
  5. Are there any cultural references that could be used to guide your product’s messaging and/or marketing campaigns?

These questions will give you an indication of the current climate and which direction the market is heading, and reduce the risk of encountering avoidable problems.

American department store Sears is the perfect example of why you should always pay attention to the climate you’re operating in. Despite customers making their preference for online shopping known, Sears failed to embrace their customers’ longing for the company to shift towards online retail.

With more people opting to shop online amid the coronavirus pandemic, the future of Sears is looking increasingly bleak, with their refusal to take market trends a huge contributor to their downfall.

Add Sears’ reluctance to invest in its existing stores into the mix, and it makes for a pretty sorry story, given the retailer was once one of the leading stores in the US.

5c analysis example - Asda supermarket

Image courtesy of Campaign Live

  1. Company: Asda is a supermarket chain offering customers a range of products, including groceries, clothing products, entertainment products, to name a few. Founded in 1949, the company’s HQ is in Leeds, Yorkshire, the county where the company was initially formed. The company also has a subsidiary, Asda Mobile.
  2. Collaborators: Asda works alongside a variety of food providers and manufacturers globally, including US store Walmart, its parent organization. The company also employs and manages more than 165,000 staff across their branches and at HQ.
  3. Customers: Although the company’s stores are located mainly in the UK, as of April 2020, Asda had 341 superstores, worldwide. They also deliver products to customers, internationally.
  4. Competitors: Asda competes against a variety of rival supermarkets. In addition to their main rivals such as Tesco, Sainsbury's, the likes of Lidl and Aldi have both entered the market.
  5. Climate: There’s been a monumental shift in the number of people shopping online, with the Online Shopping Statistics 2020 revealing 1.8 billion people purchase products online, on average. Asda has followed the likes of Tesco in offering their customers the opportunity to take advantage of a ‘click and collect’ service, with their efforts to improve their online shopping experience heightened following the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic has prompted many people to express their preference for online shopping to minimize exposure to potential risks in supermarkets.

A popular framework used across multiple industries, 5c analysis continues to help companies implement new strategies, whilst providing key insights into key trends.