Competitor analysis - a goldmine of ideas | Sunday Observer

Competitor analysis - a goldmine of ideas

21 February, 2021

The post Covid-19 market landscape can be very different to the one you have played in before. It may look the same or similar but most players have changed their game to be relevant in the shattered markets with the hope of early recovery of lost margins.

Whether you are only considering your go-to-market strategy or are looking for opportunities to grow your business, a thorough exploration of the changed competitive landscape is essential for success.

This is where a fresh competitor analysis enters the stage, becoming your key source of market and competitive intelligence, needed to ensure growth and maintain or reveal your competitive edge.

A proper competitor analysis can become a goldmine of ideas that can help you make data-driven and more efficient decisions.

Re-validating your unique value proposition (UVP), finding new market opportunities and growing your market share, identifying gaps between your and competitors’, prioritising your marketing and product development investments and discovering upcoming market trends and shifts in your competitors’ new brand positioning, target audience and product portfolio strategies.

Staying ahead

Everyone says that knowing your market is everything. Saying it is one thing, but understanding why it is so important will help you stay ahead of the pack. Your market includes your customers, your suppliers and your competitors – to name the 3 most critical factors.

These three are pivotal characters that define the success of your business. Obviously, your customers are the ones buying from your business. A good place to start to evaluate your customer is by looking at your competitors. What are other people out there doing that is similar to your business? What are they doing well? What do your customers like and dislike about the competition? 

All businesses face competition – nowadays more than ever before. Even if you are the only restaurant in town you must compete with cinemas, bars and other businesses where your customers will spend their money instead of with you. With increased use of the Internet to buy goods and services and to find places to go, you are no longer just competing with your immediate neighbors. Indeed, you could find yourself competing with businesses from other countries.

Your competitor could be a new business offering a substitute or similar product that makes your own redundant. Competition is not just another business that might take money away from you. It can be another product or service that’s being developed and which you ought to be selling or looking to license before somebody else takes it up.

Knowing what your direct and indirect competitors are doing is an important part of running a successful business. But it’s an area that many companies ignore. That’s not a good idea in today’s difficult market conditions when your rivals could well be keeping their eyes on you and planning how to steal a share of your business. Competitor intelligence is something few firms do well, whether big or small. People tend not to do it thoroughly.

Keep your eyes and ears open

By finding out about your competitors you will avoid running your business half-blind. You will know what you are up against in your market, what threats you face, and you will reduce the risk of the unknown. You will be better placed to define a competitive advantage for your business.

You will know who your customers might switch to, why and how likely this might be. You will learn how good your products or service are compared to your rivals and opportunities where you could perhaps improve performance. You will be able to design sales and marketing communication strategy which presents sharper, more effective messages. Most businesses already know who their main, direct competitors are.

Often they have worked with them or encountered them at trade events, heard of them through customers or seen their ads in the market or media. You should build up a list of all the main names and addresses. In addition, it is useful to think laterally about who else might be in competition for your customers.

Many products and services could be considered as ‘non-essential’ and so customers may be choosing to spend their discretionary income between two very different sectors – for example, householders choosing between a holiday and buying new furniture for the home.

Valuable intelligence can be gathered without leaving your desk. First of all, you can visit their website and see how and where they are positioned. Many companies have a presence on community and social networking sites. If a company is stock market listed, you can get a lot of information on the company.

The best source of information about your competitors is likely to be your customers. Talk to them about their perceptions of your business and others in the same area or sector. As consumers are increasingly shopping around for a bargain, price is becoming a big issue and it’s vital to know what your competitors are offering in terms of discounts.

Price is more of a justification for purchase than ever before Competitor analysis can throw up some interesting findings. You may find that your competitors are not who you thought they were. When you start looking at competitors, you often find who you think are your competitors are not actually your main competitors.

For example, if you have a mobile phone shop on a local high street then you might think your main rival is the other independent phone shop up the road. But actually you are both probably competing with big out-of-town retailers as well as with online phone suppliers. In fact, having more than one type of supplier in the same area can help to bring more business your way as consumers feel they can get enough choice in the same area.

In fact, your competitors could be even more varied than you think. When consumers are making difficult choices about how to tighten their belts, you may be competing with totally different products or services for their spare cash. Staying ahead of the competition is not easy but there’s no point in burying your head in the sand. When it comes to your rivals, knowledge is power.

Finally, “Play hard, play to win, but play by rules you and your business can be proud of. A reputation for good ethics and fairness has a way of attracting trust. So others will want to work with you more often than against you. And that is the greatest competitive advantage of all.”