How to Conduct Competitive Research, Using a Template
Competitive research enables you to stay on top of your target market trends, to quickly adapt to your competitors’ strategies, in order to maintain your foothold or surpass them entirely.
What is a competitive research
Competitive research offers a framework for collecting and analyzing intelligence on your business rivals, to understand how to position your own company, brand and products to compete in your chosen marketspace effectively.
The research usually encompasses an overview of the market landscape (competing companies, their products, market share, pricing and strategies), user demographics, lists of product features, Social Media presence, and tactics applied by the market players.
When to use a competitive research
Doing competitive research allows you to make educated decisions on your business strategy, marketing strategy, explore the best practices from your competition, and learn how to avoid the mistakes they made. It’s a useful tool to learn new ways to serve your customers, to spot new business opportunities, and to seize these opportunities for gaining new customers.
By analyzing your competitors as part of your strategic planning activities, and by monitoring them on an ongoing basis, you will be able to anticipate their next steps and stay one step ahead, to make sure the customers have a reason to pick you over everyone else.
How to do a competitive research
A competitive research offers valuable insights for your marketing, sales, design teams and more. You can draft it yourself or fill in a ready online template – which is highly recommended, especially, if you work in a distributed team and need a framework for further discussion and brainstorming.
Feel free to use the Infolio template for a competitive research we have developed for you, it will guide you through the key stages, which we outlined below.
1. Define & categorize your competitors
There are numerous ways for detecting key competitors in your industry, e.g. Google and Amazon will cope with most of your legwork. Use a simple search for your product ideas, check out the related websites, social media channels, online communities and directories.
Use other resources like Alexa, Keyword Spy, Hoovers, Ahrefs, SimilarWeb and similar to dig more info on your competitors. Categorize your competitors into:
Primary Competition: direct competitors, targeting the same audience or offering a similar product (or both).
Secondary Competition: businesses, offering a high or low-end version of your product, or selling something similar to a different audience.
Tertiary Competition: indirect competitors–companies that are tangentially related to yours, you may get back to them, when when you’re looking to expand your product catalog. These could be related products that are in trend, or are beneficial to partner with further down the line, e.g. if you sell dresses, a tertiary competitor may sell designer fabrics.
2. Examine their website, customer experience and market positioning
Look at their website look & feel, how detailed their product description is, which calls to action are used, their blog quality, etc.
Check out their customer journey, how long it takes them to respond to email, live chat and contact form submissions.
Review their marketing messaging to define how they differentiate their offering from the competition, what product features and benefits they highlight most often and what customers say about them (reviews, ratings, online communities’ discussions), etc.
3. Pay a special attention to pricing
As pricing is one of the key aspects of any business and potentially a competitive advantage, conduct a proper research on your competitors’ pricing. It will give you an idea about what your target market is willing pay and what prices may work for your business.
If you deal with goods, look for prices across various channels for a comprehensive result, including Google, Amazon, eBay, etc. Look at the information on product positioning and brainstorm on what is highly valued by your target customers, to help shape your offering and pricing.
4. Review social media, online communities and directories
A thorough review of your competition’s social media brings numerous benefits. If they have a large followers base, if those are engaged, it may indicate there is a market for you as well.
Customer’s sentiment about the competitors’ offering is crucial to understanding their strengths and weaknesses you can utilize in your strategy. Check out online communities and directories to have a temperature check with customer reviews.
5. Fill in the template and brainstorm on the findings
Fill in the collected data in the suggested Competitive Research template, organizing the findings visually into offering section (Company and Overview), their differentiators (Additional Value) and comments (Details).
Collect as much information as you can to define what makes your offer more valueble to your target customers. Look for any opportunity that will allow you to shine above the other players in your market segment, to leave your competition far behind you.