Customer Patterns, Marketplace Disruptions


Businesses are driven by customer demand. Customers have expectations that are patterned by what they see and hear around them, what they experience in their personal and professional life, and by financial and social influences. The process of exploring these patterns can enable business leaders to prepare for opportunities and avert disasters.

Every market has unique conditions that determine the competitive dynamics in that market. Those market conditions will affect what types of threats emerge, how they will be perceived, and how incumbents react. Brands such as Airbnb and Uber are perfect examples of where someone has come in, disrupted and completely turned that industry on its head.

Transforming the marketplace with a game-changing concepts and identifying opportunities that incumbents fail to see are key to becoming a disruptive business. I’m often asked by business leaders,


Private Equity and Venture Capital managers similarly want to know who new entrants are that have the potential to disrupt the markets which they invest in with new technologies, business models or approaches. In some instances, established brands cannot address unmet market needs because they’ve grown so broad in their approach to serving the market that they are missing fundamental insights to identify new opportunities.

So, how can business leaders effectively search for meaningful customer patterns?

Voice-of-the-consumer (VOC) measurement and monitoring enable the identification of positive and negative influences across any marketplace. Knowing your own industry, through data, is key to successfully managing marketplace disruption. A sentiment analysis for your business as well as your competitors provides quick insight into how consumers perceive a brand, product or service.


“How they can use data to better anticipate unexpected threats and new competition that could distress their business?”

Digging deeper into the causes for positive and negative sentiment perception then allows companies to address potential disruptions, or to find the reasons as to why other incumbents or entrants are capturing more attention. Monitoring industry-related conversations give companies insight into which topics are most relevant to their sector and what are the consumer’s needs and concerns.


Private equity and venture capital groups can monitor online conversations for brands and the markets overall to acquire early indicators about industry changes – like mergers. Being aware of such rumors enables portfolio managers to gain valuable time to reshape existing strategy for their investments and business holdings.

Bernard Marr, big data author, and keynote speaker noted that change in any market is inevitable,

“Sometimes the best way to look ahead is to simply listen for what’s around you.”

Depending on your industry, your audience, your goals, and even the size of your company, different tools and metrics will be important to you to identify those changing trends.

How is your business set up to monitor changing trends across the marketplace you serve?

“The trick is knowing what those changing trends might be before they arrive, so you can stay ahead of them or adapt to meet them and stay competitive.”