I doubt that having 2 more blocks in the 1st level of your structure will make you stand out and add flavor.
Based on my experience there are 2 things that really make you stand out during the case:
- Being extremely structured
- Demonstrating descent business judgment
1. Being extremely structured means structuring throughout the case.
- Poorly prepared candidates just do the initial structure and get "You are not structured enough" feedback
- Well-prepared candidates continue structuring throughout the case. In your particular example - you may continue with splitting revenues into the number of customers and average check, then check into avg number of items, prices, and mix. If the # of customers has declined - you dig deeper into internal and external factors that include the ones you've mentioned (competitors and consumer behavior)
- Distinctive candidates not only constantly do MESE structures, but also prioritize the particular branches of the structure based on their judgment and evidence available. (e.g. if you have a problem with sales people you 1) structure the problem into a) sales strategy, b) sales process, c) motivation, d) skills&technology and then 2) you prioritize c-motivation, explaining that it's the most common problem in sales. This is your hypothesis.
2. Demonstrating descent business judgment
Building Business Judgment is actually about building industry and functional knowledge.
Focus on the most common industries in the following priority (sorted by probability of getting a case): 1-retail and CPG; 2-airlines; 3-Telecom; 4-banking; 5-natural resources; 6-tech
There are several sources of info to develop business sense:
1) Cases - you simply solve 50-70 cases and get a broad knowledge of different industries, common pitfalls and questions. The key here - find good partners who already had case interviews with MBB companies
2) Company reports, equity reports, IB roadshow docs - usually have a good overview of company and industries. One of the best sources of industry information
3) HBS cases - quite useful, but not sure if lot's of them available publically. Probably worth buying
4) Books - one good book about airlines with numbers and industry analysis can give you all the necessary industry knowledge
5) News, Industry blogs
For each industry, you should understand:
- Revenue streams
- Cost structure
- Key performance indicators
- Key revenue drivers
- Industry trends
I strongly recommend practice drawing structures for each industry - profitability, value chain, etc
Then I will switch to getting functional knowledge and key concepts in:
- Marketing (Brand and trade marketing tools, etc)
- Supply chain (Ops metrics like cycle time and throughput time, distribution and delivery specifics, etc)
- Finance (Basic Accounting and Valuation)