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Surfacing Unexpected White Space in Times of Crisis

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From the earliest days of this pandemic, one thing became blatantly clear. COVID-19 will permanently change many aspects of our society – from how we work, learn, manage healthcare, balance privacy with the public interest, and ultimately how we emerge from this crisis. Some economists are suggesting that the recovery effort will have to be on the level of the Marshall Plan, which funded rebuilding efforts for cities, infrastructure and industries in Europe after the Second World War. Along the same lines, Coresight Research recently released a Coronavirus Insight Report suggesting that U.S. consumers are also bracing for the long haul and that new behaviors and preferences that they adopt will stick.

Still, there are companies and segments that stand to benefit, including the obvious Peloton, Zoom, Purell, and the Consumer Goods space, which is considered recession-resilient if not recession-proof, as consumers continue to eat and maintain personal care and homes even in times of recession. There are companies that innately understand these opportunities and immediately respond, and there are others that are driven by consumers that seek out certain attributes and benefits and make the connection to those products on their own. For example, given the shortage of off-the-shelf hand sanitizers, consumers have resorted to making their own, using substitutes like lemon, which may now emerge as an ingredient in many new personal care products. One thing is for sure. With the size of the seismic shift we are seeing, things will be considerably different going forward from how they are now and how they were before. The companies that know how to respond in the middle of the crisis will outmaneuver the competition and be in a stronger position once the dust settles.

Having a finger on the pulse of this gap reveals white space opportunities for companies to pursue. But how companies go about this varies widely. A poll conducted by Fast Company following the 2008 recession found that companies approach the task of finding white space opportunities in vastly different ways. Respondents were nearly evenly split between defining an entirely new product, repurposing an existing product for disruptive market entry, finding a new audience for an existing product, or evolving existing products to expand existing markets.

Advanced Analytics Helps to Optimize Strategy

A Boston Consulting Group study found that AI and advanced analytics at scale can yield more than 10% revenue growth through more predictive demand forecasting, faster innovation cycles and more optimized marketing and promotion among others.

At Signals Analytics, we enable this by connecting more than 13,000 external data sources that are continually refreshed into our data lake and allow third party and internal data sources to be ingested into our platform. The data is processed through our AI engine to extract context with patented NLP technologies and curated taxonomies. Trends and predictive insights are visualized either in our on-demand front-end platform or integrated into other business intelligence platforms via an API.


The predictive insights cover things like the prevalence of consumer discussion versus the lack of products on the market; analysis of leading brands associated with a particular product benefit or attribute that consumers and influencers are talking about; mapping of attributes that appear in one category driven by attributes from another category, and so on. Incorporating sales data, demographic data and other sources of information strengthens the models. Analyzing the possibilities from a 360-degree perspective, including the voice of the consumer, competitive landscape, patent and innovation lens as well as the product view better informs the strategies and outcomes that are deployed as a result.

Advanced Analytics May Yield Surprises Within the White Space

A little-known fact is that some of the most iconic brands got their footholds in the midst of recessions; two examples are Tollhouse Cookies and Burger King, which just shows that opportunities DO exist. Domino’s Pizza did well coming out of the 2008 recession and just yesterday announced 10,000 hires along with their rival, Papa John’s that is hiring 20,000 new workers and demand for pickup and deliveries increases as a result of full service restaurants being closed.

White spaces may also be found in unexpected places. For example, while most of us recognize that concerns about immunity, health and wellness, stress reduction, vaccine and drug development will drive new offerings, it turns out that candy is another place to look. As a matter of fact, in 2008, candy consumption went through the roof. Profits of Cadbury’s (the company that sells Certs Breath Mints, Trident, Stride, Bubbalicious, Cinnaburst…) went up 30 percent that year, Nestle jumped up 11 percent, and Hershey’s grew nearly 4% following flat performance the year before.

Interestingly enough, the Signals Analytics platform reveals the same trend picking up now. Statistics show that the overall confectionery category saw a 30% increase in consumer discussion between September 2019 and the end of January, even with the yearly dip after the holiday season. In terms of benefits, the single most discussed attribute was affordability.

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Source: Signals Analytics Confectionery Playbook, US Data


Configurability Results in Actionable Insights

Given the significant differences in how different companies approach white space opportunities, it is important to assess the options in a framework that is tailored to one’s business. Signals Analytics’ configuration capabilities enable companies to select data sources, define taxonomies, adjust dashboards and more importantly provide on-demand visualization and analytics directly in one of our Playbooks or via an API that feeds directly into third-party business intelligence tools.

For more information on how to configure the platform to meet your needs, schedule a demo with one of our solution consultants.

Media inquiries

Chris Thatcher
5W Public Relations 646-430-5161
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