Technology of lead generation, the customer-centric strategy model and customer journey map are aimed at maximizing the study of customer experience. Business digitalization and internal analytics imply that it is worth looking only at yourself, or rather at your customers and their behavior. Interestingly, for business owners, the prospect of fighting for clients is often unclear at all or limited by the 2-3 closest competitors.
Once, during the briefing the client confidently stated that his product had no competitors. And there was only one company in the world that he considered a worthy rival at his strategic level. The first review of the product category on Amazon showed a lot of offers from different brands, and in total we found more than 10 competing products. Some of them were private labels of well-known brands; others were independent brands and direct competitors, having different promotion strategy. Does this mean that the client was not aware of his competitors? – Actually, no! In fact, the client was familiar with most of them, and even analyzed their products for the own product enhancement. But he simply believed that the buyers of his product had been as familiar with the situation as he was, and that the choice for them was clear. Such competitive myopia is quite common, because at some point you, as the head of the company, dive so deep in your own activities that you stop noticing what is happening around you.
Is an information active space. Consumers can enter it from different angles – searching for the best price, following friend’s recommendation of a specific brand and advertising. On the other hand, each marketing activity – introducing a new player to the market, launching a new product, opening a new sales channel like Amazon or Etsy, updating a website, new content strategy for social media, and even just a lucky give-away – has its impulse for a competitive field.
Should begin with a search for competitors. At this stage, put yourself in your consumer’s position and try to follow him from finding available alternatives to choosing a specific product. Go to the “market” – it can be a Google search engine, Amazon or Etsy platforms, social media FB, Instagram, Twitter – and start searching. What would be your customer’s request if he wanted to buy your product for the first time? How would he start the search? It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been on the market – sometimes it’s good to simply vision update. For example, the offers of the new-built property on emerging markets are updated every six months.
From the very beginning, look for competitors by product characteristics as broadly as possible, , do not just use statements from your USP. For example, “buy dancing shoes”, rather than ” best shoes for a sensual rumba.” After a while, your requests will become more accurate and varied: “Latin ballroom dance shoes”, “dance shoes”, “shoes for the European program”, “women’s standard dancing shoes”. It is important to review the requests and mark the brands/companies that you find in the process of each request. Use a notepad and make a list. When you find articles with product reviews, marketplaces, or product agregator, try to go to the end of the category, and add new brands to your list.
These are the characteristics and arguments that you and other companies will use in the fight for clients in your market segment. This may be the price per unit, the additional service availability, a range of media & communication channels, triggers of trust – such as years of work on the market, certificates and customer reviews. Fill in the table providing as many details as possible, and only then – start the analysis. Sometimes, using this approach, you may discover that your main competitor is simply effectively utilizing its social networks.
Competitive analysis is a strategic-level activity. It can be performed both extensively, by all possible parameters – at the early stage of developing a marketing strategy, and pointwise – when a specific marketing activity is being developed.
It is good practice when a holistic and comprehensive competitive analysis is carried out at the stage of creating a project. Then, after introducing the project to the market, the data are updated every three to six months. And, at the same time, when developing a specific marketing activity – an account in a new social network, an additional service or an advertising campaign – the market is monitored in order to study best practices.