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4 Reasons Competitive Analysis Should Go Beyond Industry

Written by Alida

Published April 25, 2013

Where do you rank compared to your competition?

Competitive analysis plays an important role in shaping the marketing strategies of many brands. Your brand's rank in your market helps reveal your strengths and shortcomings. For many companies, however, competitive intelligence is, at best, incomplete.

Measuring your brand in a bubble ignores the fact that new products will always emerge in your category. Non-traditional competitors constantly fight for share of mind, share of heart, and share of wallet of your customers. Unless you consider the broader competitive space, it is often too late to correct your business' course when threats from new competitors surface. Time and time again, we've seen brands such as Google (in online search and smart phone industries), PayPal (in payments), Virgin Airlines (airline) and (shopping) disrupt industries because the incumbents didn't pay attention.

So how can insight into other industries help your brand? Here are 4 reasons why I think you should look beyond your own industry:

  1. Get a more accurate picture.

    Looking only at your own industry fails to provide a complete picture. Your rank within your industry can give lull you into a false sense of security. If you're the number one brand in a dying category, does this really mean your brand is successful? You could, in fact, be the best of the worst. Knowing where your brand stands against a national brand-scape can be humbling, but it provides the early warning you need to make the necessary correction.

  2. Learn from other brands.

    You can learn best practices from almost any industry. Gaining marketing insight from other brands - especially when they are also your customers' chosen brands - provides valuable insight into competitive advantages you may hold. In order to pull off brand growth or brand revitalization, you need insight into where you stand, as compared to other global brands.

  3. Category convergence.

    Category convergence is more common than ever. As global brands diversify and expand their product offerings, they start to compete in industries in which they have been historically absent..

    Many marketers are starting to believe the term "category" is a misnomer. An energy drink in the beverage category could also be competing in the health & wellness category, depending on how the consumer perceives the brand.

  4. Everyone is your competition.

    Thanks to innovations in marketing, communications, and distribution, your brand now competes with all brands - from local, mom 'n' pop shops to big, global conglomerates. Although it's important for brands to look at their direct competitors, they also compete with all brands for the love and the wallets of consumers.

    Also, keep in mind that national brands are not uniformly valued across large complex markets. Your key competitors may vary country by country, and you need to somehow capture the perceptions of your customers locally, nationally and globally so you can tailor communications for specific regions.

The bottom line is this: Industry intelligence is important, but keeping tabs on global brands is more critical. To be profitable in the long-term, expand your insights, look beyond your own industry, and identify the most promising brands you need to keep an eye on.

In your opinion, how critical is it to benchmark your company's performance against other global brands? Do you measure your performance against direct competitors and other brands in other industries?