Competitive analysis is a staple, routine activity of business. People seem to believe that innovation sits somewhere between indiscriminately borrowing competitors’ ideas and stealing their best experience features, without regard to what problems these features are solving. Competitive analysis done the right way is more about aligning with your own business goals and values than stealing the latest/greatest.
The latter looks like something along the lines of: “If we take their packaging solution, change the colors on the wrapping paper, and write a snappy slogan, our customer experience will improve 10x.”
But here’s the rub. If you don’t also analyze what problems these competitors are solving, you run the risk of trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.
Like sports coaches analyzing the other team’s game play-by-play, competitive analysis works well when your goal is to observe or analyze competitors’ products to see how you can:
- differentiate from the pack
- learn from their mistakes or successes.
Competitive Analysis Benefits
- find points of differentiation if competing for the same customer
- analyze their product for gaps your product can fill
- cheaply/quickly learn from the mistakes of others
- draw inspiration for solutions that fit YOUR strategic vision.
Competitive Analysis Pitfalls
- copying their solutions
- assuming they analyzed/researched/tested their solutions with customers
- assuming if you don’t have what they have then somehow your product/service is deficient.
The guidance we give all our clients when it comes to competitive analysis is to make sure you’re solidly rooted in your business goals, values, and roadmap. Doing so will help you avoid copying ideas for ideas’ sake.
What may seem like a great idea may or may not fit your strategic vision or solve your customers’ problems. So before you borrow or steal from competitors, make sure any changes you implement have a solid foundation in your business goals and customer needs.