(Third in a series of posts on competitive research)
Once you’ve gathered the “who” of your competitive research, you are ready to analyze your competitors, which is the key to understanding “how” they compete both in the market and with you. Analyzing the competitive information you’ve gathered involves product evaluation, market share, strategies, strengths and weaknesses and competitive objectives.
This involves looking at the competitor’s market position and differentiation. Start by making a table that lists your own products with key features and benefits, and then do the same for each competitor. Include your evaluation of design, quality, durability, maintenance, price, and customer perceptions of the product.
What should emerge from this table is who are your closest competitors and which will be your strongest competitor. The features and benefits that matter most to customers will provide the strongest indicators of the advantages and weaknesses of both your product and your competitors’. Pricing of your products compared to your competitors should include a look at history. Is the price going down, or up? Or does it fluctuate?
Objectives and Strategies
Determining your competitor’s objectives may be easy to determine, either from the mission statement, annual report or press release boilerplates, but strategy will be more difficult. You’ll need to look at their PR and advertising to discern who they are marketing to and what features and benefits they are pitching. These will give you insights into their strategy and whether they are competing on innovation, price, quality, convenience, durability, or some other basis.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Evaluating strengths and weaknesses should include an evaluation of customer service, warranties, distribution channels, messaging effectiveness, consistency in delivering on their promises to customers. Do they provide maintenance and training support? If there are market research surveys or studies, you can gain insight into how each competitor is perceived by customers. If not you can do your own survey, or learn from your sales team what customers say about your competitors.
Determine your competitive position
What should emerge from all this research and analysis is an unflinching assessment of where you fit into the marketplace. Are you a market leader? An innovator, or one of several options all vying to appeal to the same customers? Or do you fill an unmet need in a previously ignored market segment. With answers to those questions you are ready to identify your key advantages and disadvantages, identify major opportunities and problems and begin to formulate a strategy to put your company and products in the most competitive position possible.
Most importantly, commit to reviewing and adding to your competitive research on a regular basis.
Kapstone Medical’s expertise and experience in all phases of business development including competitive research offers medical device innovators and entrepreneurs a proven record of success. With our focus on deliverables, not hours, our approach is to partner with you to provide the research, insight and product development services tailored to your situation, and your needs.