Key Driver Analysis: Your Ultimate Setup Guide

Appinio Research · 11.10.2023 · 19min read

Key Driver Analysis allows you to understand what drives your customers, make informed decisions, and stay ahead of the competition.

Key Driver Analysis, known also as Driver Analysis, is a fundamental component of market research. It is a systematic process that helps organizations understand the key drivers behind customer behavior, market trends, and business performance.


The primary purpose of Drivers Analysis is to answer critical questions such as:


  • What factors are driving changes in consumer preferences?
  • How can we improve customer retention?
  • What variables have the most significant impact on sales and revenue?


By answering these questions, businesses can make informed decisions, allocate resources effectively, and develop strategies that resonate with their target audience.


Why is Key Driver Analysis important in market research?

Drivers Analysis plays a pivotal role in market research for several reasons:


  1. Data-driven decision-making: In an era where data is abundant, analyzing drivers enables businesses to make decisions based on empirical evidence rather than intuition.

  2. Competitive advantage: Understanding the key drivers of success or failure allows companies to gain a competitive edge by focusing on what truly matters.

  3. Resource allocation: It helps allocate resources efficiently by identifying which factors deserve the most attention and investment.

  4. Product development: Companies can design products and services that align with customer needs and preferences, leading to higher satisfaction rates.

  5. Risk mitigation: By comprehending the drivers of market fluctuations, organizations can better prepare for and navigate economic and industry-specific challenges.


As we delve deeper into Key Drivers Analysis, we will explore the different types of drivers and the methods employed to uncover them.



Types of drivers in market research

Drivers encompass all the elements that have the potential to influence your performance metrics. 


Among these, the factors that have the most significant impact on performance results are referred to as key drivers. It's probable that you'll have a combination of these key drivers, and the specific combination will vary depending on your company. 


The purpose of key driver analysis is to facilitate a comparison of how much each of the selected drivers contributes to customer satisfaction. Each of these contributions is quantified as an importance weight, typically summing up to 100 or contributing to the R-square statistic.


Here are some key drivers examples.


Internal drivers

Internal drivers refer to factors that originate from within an organization or business entity itself. These factors are typically under the direct control or influence of the organization's management. Here are some examples of internal drivers:


  • Customer service and support: High-quality customer service can lead to customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth, driving business growth.

  • Product quality and innovation: The quality of products or services and the ability to innovate can significantly impact a company's market position and growth.

  • Pricing strategy: How an organization prices its products or services can be a crucial driver of customer behavior and profitability.

  • Marketing and advertising efforts: The effectiveness of marketing campaigns, branding, and advertising can influence consumer perceptions and purchasing decisions.

External drivers

External drivers, on the other hand, are factors that are beyond the control of an organization but can significantly impact its performance and success. These factors often relate to the broader economic, social, and competitive landscape. Here are some examples of external drivers:


  • Economic conditions: Economic factors such as inflation, GDP growth, and interest rates can influence consumer spending patterns and market demand.

  • Competitive landscape: The actions and strategies of competitors can shape market dynamics and affect an organization's market share.

  • Regulatory changes: Government regulations and policies can have a profound impact on industries, influencing market entry barriers and compliance costs.

  • Technological advancements: Rapid technological changes can create new market opportunities or disrupt existing business models.

  • Consumer trends: Shifting consumer preferences, demographics, and cultural trends can drive changes in product demand and market trends.


Understanding the interplay between internal and external drivers is critical for making informed business decisions and you can employ various methods and tools to analyze these drivers effectively.


Methods and tools for Key Driver Analysis

Conducting a thorough Key Driver Analysis can involve a range of methods and tools to collect, process, and interpret data effectively. These techniques help researchers gain insights into the drivers shaping market dynamics. Here are some of the essential methods and tools:


Surveys and questionnaires

In order to conduct a Key Driver Analysis, you have to start asking questions about potential drivers and overall satisfaction score. You can do this via surveys or in face-to-face interviews.

  • Customer satisfaction analysis: Surveys investigating customer satisfaction are a primary method for collecting data on customer preferences and behaviors. They can help identify the factors driving customer loyalty and product adoption. Scores like NPS, CSAT or CES can support your key driver analysis.

  • In-depth interviews: Qualitative interviews with key stakeholders can provide rich insights into underlying drivers, especially in complex B2B environments. But they are usually more time consuming and it’s slightly more difficult to analyze results as data needs to be cleaned and prepared properly beforehand.

Competitive analysis

Conducting a Key Driver Analysis may not be enough to improve your strategies and elevate your business, and there are other methods that can support your improvements and growth:

  • Competitor benchmarking: Studying competitors' strategies and performance can highlight external drivers affecting the industry.

  • SWOT analysis: A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis can uncover drivers that influence an organization's position relative to its competitors.

  • Market trends and forecasting: Keeping track of industry trends and forecasting future developments can help organizations prepare for emerging drivers.

Data analytics and modeling

Once you’ve collected the relevant data, it’s time to start analyzing and uncovering insights.

The methods that will help you make sense of the data could be:


  • Regression analysis: Statistical regression models help quantify the relationships between variables, making it possible to identify the most influential drivers.

  • Segmentation analysis: Market segmentation allows researchers to understand how drivers differ across various customer segments, enabling more targeted strategies.

  • Text mining and sentiment analysis: Analyzing customer reviews, social media content, and open-ended survey responses can reveal hidden drivers and trends.


Selecting the most appropriate methods and tools depends on the research objectives, available data, and the complexity of the market being analyzed. In some cases, a combination of methods may be necessary to obtain a comprehensive understanding of drivers.


In the following section, we'll delve into the crucial stages involved in conducting a Key Driver Analysis.


The stages of a Key Driver Analysis

Whether you opt for quantitative, qualitative, or a mixed-method approach, conducting a Key Driver Analysis involves a series of systematic steps to extract meaningful insights. 


  • Formulating research questions
    Begin by clearly defining the research questions that drive your analysis. What specific drivers or factors are you trying to understand or explain? Well-defined questions will guide your data collection and analysis efforts. 

  • Identifying variables
    Identify and define the variables that will be part of your analysis. These include both dependent variables (the outcomes you're trying to explain) and independent variables (the potential drivers). Ensure these variables are aligned with your research questions.

    At Appinio, the predictor variables (e.g., brand statements via Matrix question) and outcome variable (e.g., purchase intention via Likert scaled question) are simply integrated as scaled questions in a standard questionnaire.

    Typical drivers are price, convenience, quality, packaging, or anything at all you expect to drive customer satisfaction, happiness or other measures of your performance.

  • Data collection
    Gather the necessary data using appropriate methods and ensure the data collected is representative of your target population or market segment.

  • Data analysis techniques
    Choose the relevant data analysis techniques based on your research objectives:

    For quantitative analysis, this may involve regression analysis, correlation, or machine learning algorithms.
    For qualitative analysis, conduct content analysis or thematic analysis to uncover patterns and themes within the data.

  • Interpretation and drawing conclusions
    Analyze the results of your analysis to draw meaningful conclusions. Determine which drivers have the most significant impact on the outcomes of interest. 

  • Making actionable recommendations
    Translate your insights into actionable recommendations. What strategies or changes can the organization implement based on the identified drivers?

  • Continuous monitoring
    Implement a system for continuous monitoring and evaluation to stay ahead of changing trends and ensure that strategies remain effective.


By following these steps, you can systematically conduct a Key Driver Analysis that provides valuable insights to guide decision-making and drive business success.


In the next section, we are going to show how to do Key Driver Analysis with the help of regression analysis.

How to perform Key Driver Analysis with Regression Analysis: a step-by-step guide

Once you've collected your survey data, it's time to begin your analysis.


How to measure performance

To evaluate the performance of each driver from your survey, you'll need to determine the weighted score for each driver.


The specific weights assigned to each driver depend on how you collected your data. 

For instance, if your survey rates factors like product availability, prices, store layout convenience, and customer service friendliness on a scale of 1 (very unhappy) to 5 (very happy), you can assign weights on the same scale. 


The individual performance of each driver can then be seen as a percentage of the overall weighted score.


How to examine correlations

Correlation analysis helps you understand the relationships between each predictor variable (independently) and the outcome variable. 

These correlations are represented by figures called correlation coefficients, which range from -1 to +1. Positive scores indicate a positive relationship, while negative scores indicate a negative one. Here’s how to interpret coefficient results:


  • A coefficient between 0 and 0.3 signifies a weak relationship.
  • Coefficients between 0.4 and 0.6 indicate a moderate relationship.
  • Coefficients between 0.7 and 1 indicate a strong relationship.


For example, a correlation coefficient of 0.15 between friendliness and customer happiness indicates a weak, positive relationship. Conversely, a correlation coefficient of -0.15 suggests a weak, negative relationship. However, the value alone isn't enough; it also measures how much the overall metric changes for every one-point change in the driver's weight score.


How to utilize Linear Regression

In the final step of key driver analysis, linear regression is employed to determine the relative weight of each correlation between key drivers and the outcome variable.


Linear regression analyzes pairwise correlations among the independent variables (the drivers) to find the optimal linear combination that predicts the outcome variable. 

It assesses the contribution of each driver to the outcome and produces an R-squared value, which quantifies the contribution of all drivers combined. 


An R-squared value can range from 0 to 1 and is converted into a percentage. 

A higher value indicates a stronger model. For instance, an R-squared of 0.82 means that 82% of customer happiness variance can be explained by the four variables (product availability, prices, store layout convenience, and friendliness). The remaining 18% represents unexplained variance and may involve unexamined drivers.


How to read a Key Driver Analysis Matrix

The results of your key driver analysis can be presented on a 2 x 2 matrix or chart. The x-axis (Rating in the chart below) represents your outcome measure (e.g., customer satisfaction), while the importance of each driver is shown on the y-axis.

How to read a Key Driver Analysis Matrix


  1. Key Strengths: Contains key drivers, which have the most significant impact on performance. Focus your investments and resources here.

  2. Key Weaknesses: Contains secondary drivers. Focus on them and you can increase customer satisfaction, but they are not important as the key strengths.

  3. Unimportant Weaknesses: Identifies areas for improvement, but they are less important to customers.

  4. Unimportant Strengths: Contains low-impact drivers, perceived as unimportant or having limited impact.

If you want to further your knowledge on how to conduct a Key Driver Analysis, here’s a Medium Guide that will guide you step by step on how to conduct your analysis on Excel.


Example of Key Driver Analysis

In the highly competitive automotive industry, understanding the key drivers influencing customer purchase decisions is essential. 

A leading automobile manufacturer, "XYZ Motors," embarked on a Key Driver Analysis to gain insights into what factors drove consumers to choose their brand over competitors.

Data collection

XYZ Motors collected data from a variety of sources, including customer surveys, dealership feedback, and market research reports. They identified several potential drivers, including vehicle price, brand reputation, fuel efficiency, and after-sales service quality.

Quantitative analysis

Using quantitative methods, XYZ Motors conducted a comprehensive analysis of the collected data. They employed a regression model to assess the impact of each potential driver on vehicle sales. 

The results revealed the following key drivers:


  • Vehicle price: The analysis showed that vehicle price had a significant negative impact on sales. Higher prices led to lower sales volumes, indicating that affordability was a crucial driver for customers.

  • Brand reputation: Brand reputation emerged as a strong positive driver. Customers were more likely to choose XYZ Motors due to its reputation for quality and reliability.

  • Fuel efficiency: Fuel efficiency was another significant driver. Customers valued vehicles with better fuel economy, and this factor positively influenced their purchase decisions.

  • After-sales service quality: Excellent after-sales service quality was found to have a positive impact on customer loyalty, leading to repeat purchases and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

Implementation of findings

Armed with these insights, XYZ Motors made several strategic decisions:


  • They introduced more affordable entry-level models to attract price-sensitive customers.
  • Invested in marketing campaigns highlighting their brand's reputation for reliability.
  • Focused on developing and promoting fuel-efficient vehicles.
  • Enhanced their after-sales service to improve customer satisfaction.

Benefits and limitations of Key Driver Analysis

Key Driver Analysis is a powerful tool for understanding the factors that influence outcomes and behaviors in various domains, from marketing to product development. However, like any analytical method, it comes with both advantages and limitations. In this section, we will explore the key benefits and potential limitations of conducting a Key Driver Analysis.


Benefits of Key Driver Analysis

  • Informed Decision-Making: Key Driver Analysis helps organizations make informed decisions by identifying the factors that have the most significant impact on desired outcomes. This proactive approach allows businesses to allocate resources effectively and prioritize actions that matter most.
  • Competitive Advantage: Understanding key drivers can provide a competitive edge by helping organizations tailor their products, services, and marketing strategies to meet customer preferences better than their competitors.
  • Resource Optimization: By focusing on the most influential drivers, organizations can allocate resources efficiently, reducing waste and improving overall operational efficiency.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Key Driver Analysis can uncover factors that significantly impact customer satisfaction. Addressing these drivers can lead to higher customer loyalty and retention.
  • Risk Mitigation: Identifying drivers that affect market dynamics allows organizations to anticipate and mitigate risks associated with changing market conditions or external factors.

Limitations of Key Driver Analysis

  • Correlation vs. Causation: Key Driver Analysis identifies relationships between variables but doesn't prove causation. It's essential to exercise caution when inferring causation solely based on correlations.
  • Data Quality and Availability:The effectiveness of Key Driver Analysis heavily relies on the quality and availability of data. Incomplete or biased data can lead to inaccurate results.
  • Complex Interactions: Real-world scenarios often involve complex interactions between multiple drivers. Key Driver Analysis may oversimplify these interactions, potentially missing critical nuances.
  • Changing Dynamics: Market dynamics evolve over time, and drivers can change. An analysis at one point in time may not accurately represent future trends.
  • Context Dependency: The importance of drivers can vary by context and market segment. What works as a key driver in one situation may not hold true in another.
  • Overlooking Unforeseen Drivers: While Key Driver Analysis is valuable, it may not uncover entirely new, unexpected drivers that emerge as markets evolve.

Conclusion for Key Drivers

In the world of market research, Key Driver Analysis stands as a beacon of insight, guiding organizations toward data-driven decision-making and strategic excellence. This systematic approach helps uncover the pivotal factors that shape consumer behavior, market trends, and business success. Through a journey spanning the definition, types, methods, and real-world applications of Key Driver Analysis, we have explored its significance in modern business landscapes.


From the importance of understanding both internal and external drivers to the practicality of utilizing surveys, regression analysis, and correlation assessments, this comprehensive guide equips you with the knowledge needed to embark on your own analysis journey. 


In the end, Key Driver Analysis isn't just about finding answers; it's about asking the right questions, exploring the depths of data, and ultimately driving informed decisions that lead to success in an ever-evolving business landscape.


Interested in running your own Key Driver Analysis?

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