What Is Competitive Analysis, and How Do You Conduct One?

Competitive analysis helps you gain insights into your competition’s strengths and weaknesses. But what exactly is competitive analysis, and why should you care?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of this strategy, its importance, and how to conduct it effectively. No matter your industry, staying one step ahead of the competition is vital. To do so, you need to understand not only your own business and target audience but also the strategies and positions of your competitors through competitive analysis. 

Are you ready to gain an edge over the competition? Let’s discover how to turn your rivals’ secrets into the ultimate marketing weapon.

Key Takeaways

  • Competitive analysis involves researching, analyzing, and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your rivals in the market, which helps businesses better understand the competitive landscape.
  • The importance of this practice lies in identifying competitive advantages, targeting market opportunities, and refining sales and marketing tactics.
  • Components of competitor analysis include market research, product or service analysis, marketing strategy analysis, and SWOT analysis.
  • Conducting an analysis involves identifying competitors, looking at market research and market share, gathering data and information, and identifying opportunities.
  • Sales teams can leverage insights to refine their business strategy and stay updated on competitor developments for continued success.
what is competitive analysis

Defining Competitive Analysis

Competitive analysis is the process of researching and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a business’s rivals in the market.

By scrutinizing the distinctive approaches, target customers, product offerings, and marketing strategies of direct and indirect competitors, businesses can identify an actionable competitive advantage for themselves.

This invaluable intelligence helps businesses better understand the competitive landscape to make informed decisions and enhance their overall market position.

Importance of Competitive Analysis

Competitive analysis is important for a variety of reasons, all of which help a business succeed by leveraging the strengths of its competitors. Some of these reasons include:

Identifies Your Competitive Advantage

To stand out in a saturated market, businesses must offer a unique value proposition to their potential customers and existing consumers. A detailed competitor analysis provides insights into your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. You can determine the aspects of your rivals’ products or services that outperform yours and vice-versa.

By understanding what differentiates your offerings from the competition, you can create a unique value proposition that sets your product or service apart, appealing to your target customers and enhancing your sales performance.

Improves Your Marketing Efforts

Conducting a competitive analysis can also help you improve your marketing efforts. By understanding how your competition markets its products or services, you can identify gaps in the market that you can fill.

You can also see what works well for your competition and what doesn’t, and use this information to develop your own marketing campaigns. This can help you to reach more customers, increase your market share, and ultimately grow your business.

Identifies New Business Opportunities

Another benefit of conducting a competitive analysis is that it can help you to identify new business opportunities. By analyzing your competition’s products and services, you can see where they are doing well and where they are falling short. This can help you identify market gaps that you can fill with new products or services.

You can also use this information to develop new products or services that better address your customers’ needs than your competition. By identifying new business opportunities, you can stay ahead of the competition and grow your business in new and exciting ways.

Mitigates Threats to Your Business

Finally, conducting a competitive analysis can help you mitigate business threats. By analyzing your competition, you can identify potential threats to your business and develop strategies to address them.

For example, if your competition offers a similar product or service, you can differentiate your offering by improving the quality or adding new features. If your competition offers lower prices, you can find ways to cut costs or offer additional value to your customers. By mitigating threats to your business, you can protect your market share and maintain profitability.

Components of Competitive Analysis

components of competitive analysis

Competitor analysis takes many forms, but you can use the following components when conducting one for your business. These are:

Market Research

At the core of any competitor analysis lies a thorough understanding of the market, and this is attained through diligent market research. Understanding the landscape of your industry involves a deep analysis of market trends, market share, and the general dynamics of the market.

How fast is the market growing? What are the emerging players? Are there any new technologies on the horizon? Market research will provide the context within which you and your competitors operate, illuminating areas where your company may thrive.

Product or Service Analysis

Equally essential is an evaluation of your competitor’s product or service offerings. Knowing their features and functionalities can help you identify areas where you and your competitors are similar or markedly different.

Assessing your rivals’ pricing strategies and price points gives you a vantage point from which to judge whether your pricing is aligned or if there is room for maverick adjustments to attract potential customers.

Marketing Strategy Analysis

Analyzing your competitors’ strategies is another crucial component of competitive analysis. This activity entails an examination of their marketing channels, advertising budgets, messaging, and promotional tactics. Social media strategy and content marketing efforts are also examined under this lens.

By delving into these factors, you can glean insights into what aspects may work well for your competitors and how you might emulate or improve upon their successes.

SWOT Analysis

A comprehensive competitive analysis will also encompass your competitors’ SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. By identifying the specifics that enable your rivals to be successful or expose them to vulnerability, you can align your business to exploit their weaknesses and protect against challenges they might pose.

Simultaneously, a SWOT analysis will challenge you to assess your company’s strengths and weaknesses relative to the competition, providing you with insights into areas where you could improve.

Conducting a Competitive Analysis

When it comes time to conduct your own competitive analysis, follow these steps for success:

Identify Competitors

The first step in conducting a competitive analysis is to identify your competitors. These can be classified into primary, secondary, and substitute competitors.

  • Primary competitors are those that directly target the same market with similar products or services.
  • Secondary competitors also target the same market, but their offerings aren’t as closely aligned.
  • Substitute competitors offer alternative solutions to the same problem your product or service aims to address, presenting themselves as potential replacements.

This may seem like an obvious step, but it’s important to take the time to research and identify all of your competitors, including the indirect ones. List all the relevant industry players that offer similar products or services. This includes not only your main competitors but also those that offer substitutes or alternative solutions. You can find a free competitor analysis template online to help you with this task if needed.

Analyze Their Offerings

Once you have identified your competitors, the next step is to analyze their offerings. This includes their products or services, pricing, and value proposition. What are they offering that you’re not? What are they doing better than you? How much do they charge? These are important questions you should be asking yourself.

This research can be achieved by reviewing their websites, marketing materials, and collateral and monitoring their social media channels, online reviews, and publicly available data.

Additionally, using competitor analysis tools or resources, such as online databases or industry publications, can provide further information to help you understand the competition more comprehensively.

Understand Their Target Market

Understanding your competitors’ target market is important in assessing their marketing strategy. Who are their customers? What are their needs and pain points? Where are they located?

You can answer these questions by analyzing their marketing collateral, social media, and looking at their customer reviews. Understanding their target market can help you find gaps in their marketing that you can exploit and improve your own marketing strategy.

Look at Their Sales Process

Another important aspect of a competitive analysis is looking at your competitors’ sales process. How do they acquire customers? How do they close deals? What sales strategies do they use to overcome objections? Assessing their sales process can help you fine-tune yours and identify areas that you can improve.

Spot Opportunities

The final step in conducting a competitive analysis is to spot opportunities. Analyzing your competitors can help you identify gaps in the market that you can exploit.

Use a competitive analysis framework or template to guide your evaluation systematically. Examine performance metrics, audience demographics, and future growth potential. Assess your findings against your own business to identify unique selling points, areas for improvement, and overall opportunities for greater market success.

Additionally, looking at competitors can help you improve your product or service offerings, understand your customers better, and fine-tune your sales process. Use the information you have gathered to develop a better marketing strategy and improve your business.

Examples of Competitive Analysis

To better illustrate the concept, consider the following real-life competitive analysis example:

An e-commerce business selling sustainable clothing might analyze the marketing efforts of its direct competitors, including social media, eco-centric messaging, and price points. They might also look at indirect competitors, like luxury clothing brands that use sustainable materials, to understand how these brands appeal to a similar target audience. Based on these insights, the business can adjust its messaging and marketing channels to better align with customer needs and differentiate itself from its competition.

In another competitive analysis example, a small local bakery may analyze larger chains as direct competitors, evaluating their product offerings, marketing efforts, and target customer demographics. The bakery may also examine indirect competitors like grocery stores selling baked goods or alternative dessert options like ice cream shops.

The knowledge they gain in these evaluations can help them better position their products, pricing, and marketing strategies to appeal to a wider swath of their audience.

How Sales Teams Can Leverage Competitive Analysis

competitive analysis examples

Sales teams make substantial use of the information learned in competitive analysis. Here are some tips they can use to do this most effectively:

Use Competitive Analysis Insights

In the competitive world of sales, knowledge is power. By conducting regular competitor analyses and understanding your company’s strengths and weaknesses in comparison, you better position yourself to win more deals or customers.

Take advantage of your competitors’ strengths to refine and sharpen your sales tactics, while also capitalizing on their weaknesses to offer a better solution to potential customers.

Stay Up to Date on Competitors

Competitive landscapes are constantly changing, so it’s essential to monitor competitors on an ongoing basis. Keep an ear to the ground for new arrivals in your market, industry trends, and small shifts in rival businesses that might present opportunities for your company.

By maintaining an up-to-date view of your competition, you ensure your business remains dynamic and responsive to shifts in the market.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Competitive Analysis

As you perform a competitive analysis, you must be cautious to avoid falling into a few common pitfalls along the way. Some things to look out for include:

Inaccurate Competitor Selection

Performing a competitor analysis on a business that has nothing to do with your industry niche will provide little useful information. Ensure you choose relevant competitors for analysis, focusing on those directly targeting similar customers or offering similar products and services.

Incomplete Data Collection

When it comes to data, quality is what’s most important. Ensure that your efforts always aim to be as complete and thorough as possible as you research and gather information on your competitors from multiple sources. Avoid relying on outdated or biased information.

Overemphasizing Competitor Performance

While it is essential to learn from your competitors, focus on what makes your business unique and innovative rather than merely copying their strategies. If you imagine things from the consumer perspective, what value would your business provide if it merely copied someone else? There’s plenty to learn from competitors, but unless you can set yourself apart and offer something unique, you’ll have a tough time finding your audience.

Final Thoughts

By conducting a thorough competitive analysis, you gain insight into your competitors’ businesses and market share, discover your unique value proposition, and align your marketing and sales efforts to target the right potential customers. It’s imperative to have an in-depth understanding of your competitive landscape, and conducting an analysis helps you achieve that.

Moreover, staying informed of your competitors ensures you remain adaptive and responsive to changes in the market. Armed with the answer to “What is competitive analysis?” your sales team will have the competitive edge it needs to consistently succeed and outperform in the market.