Win-Loss Research: The Secret to Success is in the Strategy

Win-Loss Research: The Secret to Success is in the Strategy

If you have ever felt the sting of losing a customer to a competitor brand, you’d be in good company. Even brands with the most loyal customer base aren’t immune to losing a sale to the competition. There is, however, a way to transform 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 identify ways to better align your messaging with customer needs. It can also bring to light unique opportunities to improve your products and services. Strategically, it can help you identify ways to cultivate brand loyalty among existing customers while increasing your brand’s appeal 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 CX program. Consider 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 they 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 areas does your brand have a competitive advantage?
  • For what reasons might a customer prefer another company’s brand over your own?
  • 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. For instance, you may find that a brand positioning update is in order to emphasize your brand’s core strengths and further differentiate you among competitors. Your research findings could kickstart new product development ideas based on competitive activity. This feedback can also lead to improving sales tactics or enhancing customer service training. By leveraging all the benefits win-loss research has to offer, you will be able to engage more effectively with your entire target audience, enhance customer experiences, and drive sales.

Evaluate Your Brand’s Competitive Edge

As the name itself suggests, win-loss research involves segmenting your target audience based on their most recent purchase decisions. 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 competitive advantage. It can also pinpoint which factors make your brand stand out in the mind of your customers. On the other side of the coin, analyzing your losses can help you sharpen your competitive edge. This approach will give you a clearer picture of where your greatest growth opportunities lie.

“I’ve tried to handle winning well, so that maybe we’ll win again, but I’ve also tried to handle failure well. If those serve as good examples for the kids, then I hope that would be a contribution I’ve made to sport, not just basketball.”

~ Mike Krzyzewski

The Devil Is in the Details

Mike Krzyzewski, coach of Duke University’s Blue Devils basketball team since 1980, is one of the most winningest basketball coaches at any level. He’s secured an impressive 1,132 wins in 44 seasons. That’s an impressive win rate of 77%. His belief in the importance of handling both winning and losing well is a valuable lesson from which we can all learn. It’s the reason that win-loss research can be so useful. As a marketing research approach, it helps you listen intently 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 or a customer. Yet, the most teachable moments are those where we face our losses and learn from them. Win-Loss research does just that and can teach us a great deal about what it takes to retain current customers, win back those lost, and attract new ones.


The Secret to Segmentation Research Success