Know Thy Enemy: Understand Your Competition and How to Beat Them

Many of our clients come to us with a need to improve their marketing, communications, product mix, or customer satisfaction. This is often viewed through the lens of self-reflection; an inward view of how to grow a brand. Who is our target market? What is our value proposition? How can we make deeper tracks into the market?

This is great starting point, but often doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. It’s critical to examine your brand from the purchaser’s point of view. You need to look through the same lens they use when evaluating their options:

  • What do they think they know about these brands?
  • What experiences have they had, and what are their perceptions?
  • Where do they see your brand fitting in, and who do they see as your competitive set?
  • How does all of this translate into who they ultimately consider/not consider?

Know Thy Enemy: Understand Your Competition and How to Beat Them by Mike Jennings, Radius Global Market Researc

It’s critical to examine your brand from the purchaser’s point of view. You need to look through the same lens they use when evaluating their options.”

Recently, I was presenting at a meeting to senior executives of a company that is currently leading its category in the marketplace. During the discussion, the topic of addressing competition and new marketing and distribution channels was discussed. Much to my surprise, the line of thinking for some was that, being the market leader, there was little need to assess such things. The argument was that they’ve never needed to concern themselves with the activities of competitors or new threats in the marketplace, and they can simply focus on internal knowledge and customer input about their brands.

This type of thinking can derail a brand’s growth and success. Even market leaders should be regularly evaluating their strategy based on a broader view of the market landscape and competitive set. This should include a few key components:

  • Market perceptions (among both customers and prospects) of who the competitors are in a particular category
  • How well different brands fit with a series of items that address current market needs
  • What needs you are satisfying, what needs your competitors are satisfying, and any overlap between you and the competition (to see who you are most aligned with in the minds of those in the marketplace)
  • Where there are gaps not being served by any brand (unmet or unclaimed needs)

Even market leaders should be regularly evaluating their strategy based on a broader view of the market landscape and competitive set.”

Here’s a real-world example: A company felt that a key competitor was considered a lower-end value brand, while its brand was viewed as trusted, reputable, and premium. Through implementing a competitive assessment, the company learned that a recent series of data breaches had damaged its brand’s trust level and ability to be considered premium, bringing the brand more on the level with the competition. However, the company also learned that no brand is viewed as a leader when it comes to keeping personal data safe, so making changes that will speak directly to that market perception is critical.

This case story is a good reminder that brands must continually keep abreast of potential shifts, hopefully, long before a competitive threat takes hold and brand exodus is actualized, by asking these questions:

  • Is our value proposition being accepted in the market?
  • How do we stack up against competitors?
  • Where is there opportunity for brand growth?

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