Win Loss Research: The Secret to Winning is Learning from Losses

Win Loss Research: The Secret to Winning is Learning from Losses

Have you ever felt the sting of losing a customer to a competitor brand? Unfortunately, you’d be in good company. Even brands with the most loyal customer base are not immune to losing a sale to the competition. There is, however, a way to turn the pain of lost customers into a tremendous learning opportunity. It’s called Win Loss research. From a tactical standpoint, Win Loss research can help point out ways to better align your messaging with customer needs or reveal opportunities to improve your products and services. At a strategic level, it can help you uncover the steps to take to deepen brand loyalty among existing customers and increase the appeal of your brand with new customers.

Answer Key Questions with Win Loss Research

Understanding why customers choose your brand, or a competitor’s, is at the heart of an effective marketing strategy and an essential component of a strong customer experience program. Here are some of the critical questions Win Loss research can help you answer:

  • What sources of information do customers use?
  • What product or service benefits are customers most interested in?
  • What are the critical touchpoints along the path to purchase?
  • What are the fundamental needs and motivations prompting customers’ purchase decisions?
  • What prior experiences impact which brands they consider purchasing?
  • How well is your product or service differentiated from the competition?
  • In what situations does your brand win relative to the competition – and why do you lose?
  • What opportunities exist to enhance your product or service offerings?

Apply That Knowledge Across the Board

The value of conducting Win Loss research extends across the entire marketing spectrum.  You may identify the need to refine your brand positioning and marketing communications to differentiate your brand more clearly or address perceived weaknesses. It can offer insight into ways to improve existing products and services as well as uncover potential new product ideas based on competitive activity. The feedback can lead to improving sales tactics or enhancing customer service training.  By leveraging all the benefits Win Loss research has to offer, your team will be in position to engage more effectively with your entire target audience, enhance customer experiences, and drive sales.

Plus… Assess Your Brand’s Competitive Edge

As the name itself suggestions, Win Loss research involves segmenting your target audience based on their most recent purchase decision. Those who purchased your brand most recently are of course ‘Wins,’ which include new and repeat customers. By assessing the proportion of your customers who are first-time vs. repeat purchasers, you can learn valuable insights about your market opportunity, such as the level of loyalty customers have with your brand relative to your competition. That knowledge can help you better understand your key competitive advantages and what differentiates your brand in the mind of your customers.

On the other side of the coin, focusing on your ‘Losses’ can help you sharpen your competitive edge. Consider taking a close look at your ‘Losses,’ which includes your former customers as well as prospective customers, who may or may not have considered your brand but, for some reason, purchased from another. They can teach you a great deal about what you need to change to win back former customers, improve retention, and grow market share.

“You learn more from losing than from winning. You learn how to keep going.” ~Morgan Wooten

Morgan Wooten is one of the most winningest basketball coaches at any level, having led the DeMatha Catholic High School boys’ basketball program, from 1956 to 2002, with an impressive 87%-win rate (1,274-192). His belief in the learning opportunities that can come from losing a game rings true for marketers as well. It’s the reason that Win Loss research is so useful. It’s an invaluable opportunity to listen carefully to your customers and better understand how your brand stacks up against key competitors, for better or worse. No one likes to lose, whether it’s a game, a bet, or a customer. Yet, the most teachable moments are those where we face our losses and learn from them. Win Loss research epitomizes that fact and can teach us a great deal about what it takes to retain current customers, win back lost customers, and attract new ones.


The Secret to Segmentation Research Success