Market Research

Where to Start With Market Research: Part 2 Competitive Analysis

Andrea Fryrear
7 min read

In part two of our three part series that acts as an introduction to market research, we explore how online survey software can work double time to help you design, distribute, collect, and analyze competitive analysis surveys.

Competitive analysis is a complex undertaking that involves multiple steps, from researching competitor product lines to surveying competitor customers. Fortunately, a survey software can help every step of the way. Here’s how.

Missed part one? Read it here

Competitive Analysis with Market Research Surveys

Keeping an eye on the competition ensures that you aren’t caught unprepared for changes in your industry. Whether it means discovering one competitor is branching out into new services or another is doubling down on efforts to target one niche within a market, competitive analysis will help you determine your own place in your industry and how you can grow your share of the market through product development and brand positioning.

But don’t forget. Even during competitive analysis research your customers are your focus.

Topics you may want to consider asking or focusing on during this type of market research include:

  • What is the full range of products or services that your competitors offering?
  • What are the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for brands in your industry (including your own)?
  • Have your competitors made changes to your competitors’ target markets and niche audiences?
  • How do buyers in your market research products prior to making a purchase?
  • Who’s most prominent in that research process: you or your competition?
  • When and how do buyers want to interact with vendors?
  • How does each brand rank in overall awareness? Where does your brand fit in?

In a full competitive analysis study, you will be gathering data to answer many questions. However, each topic may need a slightly different approach.

For example, some aspects, like sales and profit numbers and number of storefronts, can be researched collected all together by your internal team. Others, like how aware potential customers are of different brands, will require finding and surveying an audience outside of your employee pool.

Even though you may be measuring multiple facets of your competitive landscape, keep your original question in mind. If you want to identify strengths and weaknesses in your competitors’ product lines, for example, that data will take precedence. (But you should still measure things like profit and market share to see whether or not those perceived strengths and weaknesses affect their business.)


When Conducting a Competitive Analysis, Do I Need to Study All of My Competitors?

Probably not, although it depends on your industry.

If your target audience would be able to name every one of your competitors, then it would be best to spend the extra time to dive deep and analyze everyone in your competitive landscape.

For marketplaces with many, many competitors, doing a full competitive analysis of dozens or hundreds of other companies is cost prohibitive, if not downright impossible. In these cases, default to the 80/20 rule, which states that 80% of market revenue comes from just 20% of the competition. To get the most out of your competitive analysis, focus on the 20%.

But don’t completely lose sight of the 80%, especially when it comes to upstart companies who may be angling to introduce new methods and technologies that you could adapt to improve your own product offerings and work.


How Do I Use Surveys for Competitive Analysis?

Much of the work that goes into competitive analysis is based in on-the-ground research like collecting competitor marketing materials, growth numbers, storefront design, product range, and more.

All of this data can be collected with surveys, a particularly convenient method when you have multiple people working on the project together. Surveys ensure that data is input consistently across all competitors and helps keep quantitative and qualitative data organized from the very start.

Even though there is a wealth of data available through an internet search, don’t forget to ask real people what their thoughts and opinions are. Survey your own customers to see why they chose you over the competition, but also survey your competitors’ customers to find out why they made their purchasing decision (and see how they think the product or service could be improved). While your competitors’ customers will be more difficult to reach, asking for their honest input is integral to the success of your competitive analysis study.

SurveyGizmo has the added benefit of built-in open text analysis, so your analysts can more easily spot trends in what your competitors are doing and how your customers (and potential customers) are responding to the key players in your unique marketplace.


Surveying Competitor Customers is Hard: 7 Tips for Increasing Response Rates

Finding and connecting with your competitors’ customers will be difficult. That said, it’s certainly not impossible and, in fact, very important for the success of your market research.

There are, however, many things you can do to increase response rates with even these hard-to-find demographics. Many of these tips are important to keep in mind for all of your respondents and all of your surveys.

  1. Keep your survey short and sweet. Your respondents’ time is valuable, so keep your questions short, sweet, and to the point. Response rates are highest for surveys that take 5 minutes or less to complete.
  2. Stay on topic. To keep your survey short, stick to answering the questions that need to be answered. In part one of this three part series, we discussed the importance of establishing your “one question” at the start of your market research endeavors, and this is where you need to keep that one question in mind. You will always want more information from your respondents, but show restraint and stay on topic. 
  3. Be transparent with respondents. Communicate clearly and succinctly the purpose of the survey, how long you expect it to take them, how the information will be used, and you plans for following up (if any).
  4. Personalize your survey invitations. Use personalized invitations whenever possible. Ideally, they should be sent from someone the respondent recognizes and respects, but this may not be possible.
  5. Use multiple reminders. Follow up repeatedly with those who don’t respond, as necessary. This shows the respondent that their participation is important and is helpful in these days of over cluttered inboxes. That said, don’t spam your potential respondents. Follow the golden rule of email: treat others’ inboxes as you would have others treat yours.
  6. Consider an incentive. While incentives don’t guarantee respondents will take the time to answer all of your questions, they can help. The perfect incentive depends on your audience and budget. Some groups may love a voucher or coupon for one of your products. Others may prefer a more general gift card. When considering incentives, keep these seven points in mind.
  7. Act on the feedback you receive. Survey respondents do like to see that their responses turned into real results. In you are able, share your results, but also share how you’ve put their feedback into action. Who knows – by showing your competitors’ customers that you’re listening, you may just win new business for yourself!


Look Forward to Part 3 of Our Series on Getting Started With Market Research

In our next installment, we cover how conjoint analysis can be used to make market research magic. When it comes to collecting concrete data on what features really influence your customers to buy, there is no better method than this.

SurveyGizmo’s conjoint question type makes a complex market research technique easier than ever. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, read part one of this series.

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