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Whether you are just starting out, or looking to spice up things in a solidified market, you need to know what others are doing—and how consumers feel about it.
Competitor analysis can help you mitigate risks, and seize opportunities.
Heck, a solid competitor analysis could even win you a World Cup. Even soccer players on the pitch know what part of the net to aim their shot at, based on a thorough analysis of what the goalkeeper has done in the past.
The key to winning is knowing where opportunities lie.
Here are 14 questions that will help you get to know your opponents, so you can score with your target audience. These questions can be used in a range of different research types. From market analysis to consumer profiling and brand tracking, it makes sense to build elements of competitor analysis into most research projects.
Answer format: single choice.
Sending a competitive analysis survey to a broad, nationally representative sample of consumers isn’t the best bet. The chances are you only really want to hear from a specific group of consumers—people who buy products like yours or might buy them in the future.
That’s why you’ll probably need a question like this at the beginning of your survey. To put this into context, let’s imagine you’re a food brand. To make sure you survey people who actually buy foods like yours, you could ask this question with the following answer options:
If you use a platform like Attest, you’ll be able to allow the people who chose one of the top two options to proceed through your survey. That means you’ll get responses from people who are actually relevant for your brand.
Answer format: open text.
This is a great kickoff question for your competitor analysis. From this question you’ll get an understanding of unprompted awareness across your market. Do consumer remember your brand name without being prompted? And which of your competitors’ names can they recall off the bat? That’s what you’ll find out, and you’ll begin to get a lay of the land in your market.
Answer format: multiple choice.
This question will help you understand another type of brand awareness: prompted awareness. In this list, you can include a variety of your key competitors to determine how well respondents know your market. If you’re doing a specific product category analysis, make sure you also mention the type of product you want to focus on.
To know someone is not to love someone. Find out what consumers think about other brands to see how it weighs up to their opinion of yours. You can learn what the key differences are between your own brand and others operating in your market through the eyes of the customer.
Whose brand reputation is best? What about brand perception? Social listening and competitor tracking tools are a great way to monitor this too, and can give more context to your survey.
Which brands have done the best at winning customers over? Who’s getting the biggest slice of market share? Knowing who has been popular in your market is a great starting point.
Look at their pricing strategies, social media platforms and strategies in search engines to see what they’ve been doing to outweigh their direct competitors and learn from it!
Does past purchase behavior result in future purchase intent? This is where you’ll find out.
With this data you can start to understand which brands you might want to pay closest attention to when working on your marketing, product and sales strategies.
Remember to dig into demographics here too! You might find that certain groups of people intend to buy with a specific brand, but perhaps you already know that these people aren’t your ideal customers. From the results to this question you’ll be able to narrow down which customer groups intend to buy from which brands, and compare that with your ideal customer profile (ICP).
Answer format: multiple choice (+ option for text input)
This is a must-ask to learn where to focus your marketing efforts to reach your ideal customers as efficiently as possible.
Do you need to expand your sales team, promote engagement on social media to increase visibility there, or should you be doubling down on SEO?
The answers to this question should directly inform your sales tactics and everything you’re doing in your sales funnel.
Answer format example: multiple choice or grid.
Here you’ll want to list a few adjectives that might describe brands like yours or your competitors. For example, you might use:
And if you’re using a grid question (which you can do with Attest btw) you can add a list of brands so that people can make their choices for each. This’ll give you a good comparison of brand attributes across your key competitors.
Don’t assume you need it all to be positive either! You can totally ask this kind of question using adjectives like ‘Expensive’, ‘Low quality’ or ‘Unfashionable’. And don’t forget to add your brand to the mix. You might not want to hear what people don’t like about your brand, but it’s crucial that you know this.
Answer format: open text
Be ready to get some silly answers, and some really straightforward ones. Sometimes people buy from a brand because they have emotional ties to it, because it brings up memories. They might love your customer service. Or you’re just the brand being sold in the store around the corner.
Either way, asking your target audience what they love about your key competitor brands (as well as your own!) is an invaluable source of insight.
You will learn what resonates with customers and what they focus on, or what really stands out for them. Maybe your competitors offer something that you don’t, or something in their sales process is much more convenient to your respondents.
This will give you ideas on how to create a stronger attachment with your customers. With such intelligence at hand, formulating a unique value proposition and making strategy decisions becomes far easier.
Answer format: single choice (numbered scale).
You’ve probably come across this question before. It’s the classic Net Promoter Score (NPS) question.
Maybe you already ask this question too your customers—great, we love to hear it! But you might not have thought about asking this question about your competitors—you totally should do this.
Asking this question for your brand and a range of key competitors will give you a great sense of how your brand is doing in the market as a whole.
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It makes sense to follow your NPS question with this. It’ll give respondents a chance to tell you in their own words why they have a certain opinion about your brand or competitors’.
The way customers talk about a business to their friends says a lot. People love being recommended products by people they trust, more than they will ever love a commercial or social media ad.
Knowing what your target market is saying about your company and about the competition can give you an honest picture of the state of the market and your positioning in it.
Answer format: multiple choice or open text.
Marketers scratch their heads over it, and it keeps many CEOs up at night: why do consumers stop buying their brand?
McKinsey has been studying this for years. Something that’s important to note is that it’s rare that consumers suddenly lock eyes with a new brand and pick them instead of the one they bought before. When something triggers a customer to change brands, they don’t start the research all over again. They’re more inclined to go for a brand they remember from their initial purchasing journey.
You will want to identify those triggers, and know who is in that initial list of options.
This question will provide insight into the many reasons people in your target audience either switch provider or stop buying altogether, which will help you adapt to that.
If you want your competitive analysis to really dive deep, put your respondents in the seat of CEO for a day. Knowing what changes they would make really zooms in on what their biggest pain points are, or what is most important to them in a business. Getting ideas on how they’d improve your competitors can also be insightful to your own business!
So you’ve set up your competitive analysis research. Great!
What is it you’ll be able to actually do with all this knowledge about the competition?
Research and surveys are only great if the results are actionable. Here’s what you can do with the results of your market research about your competitive advantage.
Conducting a competitive analysis study will give you a wealth of information that you can use to improve your own business strategies and position yourself as a leader in your industry. Make sure to make the most out of it by having your stakeholders aligned on an action plan.
You are not alone. Meaning: the effects of your actions in your market depend on what your competition is doing, and what consumers are seeing. Boost the strategy of your own company by getting to know your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and by learning what consumers are focusing on.
Asking the right questions is key to a comprehensive competitive analysis. Check out our free market analysis survey template to get started with your competitive analysis, or get support from our research experts for tailored advice on your survey.
Get ahead of the competition with competitor analysis
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Apart from price, strategy and product, there are many other factors you can look at, and the right approach to take will depend on the goal of your competitive analysis. The tools you will see are key in any type of competitor analysis. Surveys in particular can be a great resource for discovering what your competition is up to these days. People love giving their opinion, and surveys make it easy to collect reliable data from many different consumers. Additional tools like search engine optimization (SEO) software can give you an extra edge by helping you figure out what works best for your competitor and identify gaps where you may have a competitive advantage.
What questions to ask in your competitive analysis, depends on your research goals. Here are eleven questions to give you inspiration. Mix, match and add to your taste:1. Welcome to this short survey! Please start by selecting the statement that best applies to you.2. Thinking about [your product category], which brands, if any, first come to mind? Please list as many as you can think of.3. Which of these brands of [product category] are you aware of? Please select all that apply.4. Which of the following qualities do you associate with [competitor brand]?5. Which of these brands have you purchased in the last [3/6/12] months? Select all that apply.6. Which of the following clothing brands, if any, would you consider purchasing within the next [3/6/12] months? Please select all that apply.7. Where do you seek advice when you’re shopping for [product/service category]?8. Which of the following, if any, do you associate with each of the following brands. Please select all that apply.9. What do you like about [competitor brand]? Be as descriptive as you like.10. How likely or unlikely would you be to recommend [brand] to a friend or family member?11. Please explain in as much detail as possible why you gave that score.12. How would you describe [brand] to friends?13. Why did you stop buying [brand]?
When it comes to analyzing the competition, there are three variables you will want to consider: audience, price and strategy. Knowing the size and composition of their audience helps to determine how great a threat your competition presents. Also, understanding their pricing models can give you an idea of where you stand in the marketplace. Finally, pay close attention to their strategies—what tactics do they use that work? Are there any approaches that have been particularly successful for them? Being able to identify the variables behind your competitors’ success and failure is invaluable in crafting your own competitive edge.
Customer Research Principal
Elliot joined Attest in 2019 and has dedicated his career to working with brands carrying out market research. At Attest Elliot takes a leading role in the Customer Research Team, to support customers as they uncover insights and new areas for growth.
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