Thursday, April 19, 2007

What is Competitive Analysis?

What is competitive analysis?

You might think the following activities qualify as competitive analysis:

  1. Creating a matrix of features that shows how your product performs against competitors'.
  2. Comparing your product's market share, gross sales, etc. against those of your competitors.
These activities can indeed be part of competitive analysis, but they neglect the most important factor. Competitive analysis should primarily be about analysis of customer psychography and perceptions. Don't just compare your product to other products, determine what differs between your customers and those of competing products.

What are the problems your customers are trying to solve, and what are the problems competitors' customers are trying to solve? Document personas not just for the customers of your product, but for competitors' products.

How do people perceive your product versus others? With what single word do they associate your product (i.e. what is your brand)? Compare this word to the words that your competitors "own" in the minds of customers. What do existing and prospective customers perceive as your product's biggest strengths and weaknesses? What do they perceive as your competitors' biggest strengths and weaknesses?

This sort of competitive analysis is what should drive the positioning of your product, which largely determines the relative priority of product requirements and the strategies for marketing and selling your product.

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