What is competitor analysis?

It doesn't matter how beloved the brand is - consumer loyalty is never guaranteed. It takes constant competitive analysis to ensure your place in the market - but what does that really mean? And is it really such a big deal?

times have changed

The answer to the latter question is yes - it's a big deal.

In the past brands may have been impervious to losing customers if their reputation was well established – but this was all before the internet and social media existed. Now there may be a price for consumer loyalty, ease of shopping experience, negative customer reviews, or just a brand being considered trendier than yours.

For brands to survive, they need to be aware of everything that consumers think and feel, and how that affects success in their industry and category. That's a tall order - which is why competitive analysis is so important.
What is competitor analysis?

But to answer our first question, what exactly is competitor analysis? It's more than just comparing competitor sales or rankings. In fact, if you only look at one thing, you're known competitor, you're only doing one-third the job.

Here's everything you need to know.

Four Aspects of Competitive Analysis

Using social listening and social monitoring tools, there are four basic aspects you want to look for and track over time:

1. Where your brand stands with your audience
Before you can contrast against competitors, you first need a baseline of how your audience perceives your brand. What are you doing well, what do they want you to do well, and how much do these things matter? We'll talk more about that last bit shortly. For now, the idea is to think of your place in the landscape as a starting point.

2. Where known competitors stand with your audience
Your audience isn't just for you - but that's not a bad thing, it's an advantage. Analyzing them gives you access to everything they think and feel about their competitors as well. So how do the biggest rivals stack up in his eyes? Where are they succeeding and failing. This information is vital to your competitive strategy.

3. Unexpected competitors you're ignoring
If you're paying attention, your audience may lead you to competitors you didn't have. Many hotel brands wish they'd paid closer attention to Airbnb before this game, and retailers may not have predicted the power of Etsy — unless they've been tracking consumer trends on social. Don't assume you already know all your rivals - or you'll be caught off guard by the next blocker.

4. Industry and category trends
Don't narrow your focus so much that you miss the big picture. Yes, individual competitors matter, but so do category and industry trends. A great way to beat competitors is to be the first to adopt a new technology – such as AI – or to respond to any overarching trend about to break. Just make sure it makes sense for your particular brand or has the opposite results you're aiming for.
Competitor analysis is a process

For competitor analysis to be truly successful, it must be ongoing. Trends change quickly, so you can't take your eye off the ball.

Use regular competitor analysis reporting to stay on top of how your response to competitor social data is succeeding. Set new goals based on the insights that come in, and track and adjust progress as you go.

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