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The Art Of Competitor Research



What is Competitor Research


Competitor research involves analysing key market players to understand their products, propositions & strategies. Effective competitor research enables businesses to build strategies that avoid disruption, beat the competition, identify unmet innovation opportunities and better service customer needs to ultimately win in their market.


Dispelling Myths


There are some common misconceptions of the value of competitor research:


1. “You should focus on your users, not your competitors”

2. “If you only focused on your competitors no innovation would ever happen”


A quick rebuttal to these before we continue…


1. “You should focus on your users, not your competitors”


There is no doubt that focusing on your users is critical to adopting and retaining users of your product. If you’re not solving a real customer problem, no one is going to use your product, but critically if you’re not solving that problem in a better or cheaper way than their current provider then users aren’t going to adopt your product. Competitor research ensures you are “solving the problem in a better or cheaper way”.


Furthermore, there is very little “pure innovation” in the world nowadays and very often, someone, somewhere has already solved the problem you are exploring. One of the many use cases for competitor research is that it can help identify how others have solved similar problems and inspire teams to create products and design services.


2. “If you only focused on your competitors no innovation would ever happen”


The famous quote that resonates with this point is from Henry Ford, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. Ford is completely right and this forward thinking innovation has created some of the household names we know today that have created clear unique product innovations; Tesla, Google, Apple, Facebook to name a few.


Here, we must note that effective competitor research looks outside of just products and services and into the underlying needs of competitors and wider market users. If you can spot where your competitors' users struggle then this presents both an opportunity to beat your competitor and potentially to create completely innovative products and services. In the Ford Motor Company example, a focus on the underlying need of ‘getting from A to B faster and more comfortably’ helped provide this innovation opportunity.


There is also an underlying theme in these responses that competitor research is only one data point and input into the wider strategies required to build successful businesses. Be sure to leverage multiple data sources & tools before building a business strategy.


The value of good competitor research


Conducting effective competitor analysis is critical to building and maintaining successful businesses. Overall the value lies in 4 key areas:

  1. Spot gaps - Identify unmet needs in the market and spot innovation opportunities in the fast evolving world.

  2. Avoid disruption - Identify competitor strategies to avoid disruption, maintaining and growing competitive advantage over time.

  3. Inspire solutions - Inspire designs and overcome business challenges by learning lessons and adapting from the best-in-class solutions across the industry

  4. Tailor messaging - Create marketing & sales content based on the wider market influences and situation to differentiate your product

The fundamentals of good competitor research


There are various tools and frameworks for conducting good competitor research. Whatever mechanisms are used there are some underlying considerations to make sure it is done effectively.


1. Make sure you focus on the right competitors


A common mistake companies make is only exploring their close, known competitors and not exploring traversing industries and “up and comers”.


Particularly within the FinTech world the barriers to building new products and services are constantly decreasing and the market is always on the move. Embedded Finance means other industries are moving into the FinTech world and there is growing risk of disruption from different places.


Forming practices that monitor both existing and new competitors is difficult but essential. Google Alerts (https://www.google.com/alerts) can be a great asset here using keywords associated with your business and Behind Login’s ReleaseTrack can feed a regular supply of rich, contextual new and existing competitor insights to your team.


2. Focus on the things that you can influence


Businesses need to be very clear on their value proposition and addressable markets, identifying where their current competitive advantage and points of differentiation lie. Once established instil practices to regularly monitor the evolving landscape, focusing on the areas at which your business is at risk and moving fast if disruption rears its head.


More commonly, as standardisation of back end systems and ‘race to the bottom’ pricing models grow, the User Experience (UX) layer is where businesses differentiate their products and services. Businesses need to keep up to date with the latest tech capabilities (such as iOS & Android) and consumer expectations to avoid disruption. Establishing continual delivery practices within businesses to evolve digital products is important to avoid stagnation, and sourcing regular insights on both your users, competitors and macro/micro influences to fuel this product evolution is key to building the right things.


3. Bake it into your processes to avoid research going stale


In line with the above themes, establishing regular competitor research is important to avoid working off outdated data. Too often you hear teams talk about an “X-month old piece of competitor research” that was conducted and the insights implemented into business strategy, then never looked at again.


With the rate of innovation in the industry, businesses are frequently evolving products and services and competitor research becomes quickly outdated. Building continual monitoring practices is key, whether that is a blocked out time in the diary for the team to conduct research, or using Behind Login’s ReleaseTrack to get succinct weekly email summaries on all the changes in the competitive landscape.


4. Make it engaging for stakeholders and wider teams


This generally applies to all research conducted within organisations; long text heavy documents without highlights, executive summaries and actionable insight don’t get read. Focus on the stuff that matters and create content that is easy to digest for your stakeholders.


Along the same lines of (1) ‘Focus on the things that you can influence’, it is important not to bloat competitor research outputs with content that either doesn’t matter or can’t be influenced. Focus on the things that your business has influence over and present them in a way that engages stakeholders and provides actionable insights and clear takeaways for teams.


Templates that have been pre-agreed with stakeholders can be a good way to ensure consistent, valuable research time over time such as Miro’s competitor research templates: https://miro.com/templates/competitor-analysis/. At Behind Login we are big Miro fans and use the platform to present various research outputs.


How Behind Login can help you


1. We have a 1M+ global panel of consumers that we survey and interview to understand their needs within the market and how they are using competitor products and services. We get to the underlying needs of competitor users.


2. Our ReleaseTrack technology scans App Stores for product updates and new feature innovations and serves them straight to your inbox, keeping competitor research up to date at all times.


3. Our Expert Research team then leverages these capabilities to provide actionable insights to help our clients win in the market focusing on the things that our clients can influence.



Get in touch to find out more hello@behindlogin.com


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