Whether you are just starting a company or are established in your industry, it’s pivotal to understand your competition. But it’s not just enough to keep an eye on what they’re doing right. You also need insight into what mistakes they’ve made, how they have overcome them, and what moves they are likely to make next. This process known as competitive landscaping is essential for your own business strategy, decision-making, and growth.
How to Perform a Competitive Landscape Analysis
When conducting competitive landscape research, there are five key areas you need to account for in order to drive strategy development or refine your business approach:
- List your competitors
- Know their products and services
- Understand their strengths and weaknesses
- Identify the strategies they use to obtain their goals
- Establish their overall market outlook
Step 1: Learn About Your Competitors
Make a list of at least 10 competitors you need to take a closer look at and label them as direct, indirect, perceived, or aspirational.
- Direct competitors: Companies most closely related to your own business. They are at your price point and offer nearly identical products and services.
- Indirect competitors: Companies that offer similar products and services that are sold above or below your current price point.
- Perceived competitors: Companies that sell a different product or service than yours but are viewed as your competitor by your consumers.
- Aspirational competitors: Companies you admire in adjacent fields that do not currently sell the same products or services you do, but may in the future.
Step 2: Identify Competitor Positioning
Do you know what your competitors’ unique value propositions (UVP) are? How are they differentiating themselves from your company and others like it? These are the main questions you need to answer in this step. Look for repeating concepts or ideas that seek to separate them from other companies in your field. Consider the kinds of technology or technical features they rely on. How are these similar or different to your own innovations, and how do these benefit or hinder your competition? Keep this information in mind, as it will come in handy later on in Step 6.
Step 3: Study Competitor Marketing Strategies
In this stage, it’s time to place yourself in the consumer’s shoes. Look at your competitors from their perspective and engage just as they would along the customer journey. Observe where marketing efforts are being most focused, including the kinds of content they are putting out on their website and social media channels. Where do you see the most ads? What incentives are offered to customers to drive them through the marketing funnel? At this point, you should also audit your own customer journey and marketing strategies in order to compare them most accurately with the competition.
Step 4: Evaluate Competitor Price Points and Promotions
Do you know what your competitors are selling their products or services for? While you shouldn’t view this step as a reason to copy competition price points, you should use this step as a way to gauge if you are undercharging or overcharging. You can also see what worked and what didn’t work for your competition and use those insights to avoid similar mistakes in your own company.
Step 5: Use SWOT and PEST Frameworks
A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWAT) framework is an in-depth analysis of your company’s internal traits and external forces. The PEST framework reviews political, economic, social, and technological factors and how a business responds to them. Like a SWOT analysis, you should review these metrics within your own company and compare them to your competitors.
Step 6: Perform a Competitive Patent Landscape Analysis
According to a November 2022 report from the World Intellectual Property Organization, inventors and innovators filed over 3.4 million patent applications globally in 2021. That represents a nearly 4% increase from 2020. Reviewing relevant patents to your field can provide a treasure trove of information that may not be available anywhere else. A competitive patent landscape analysis can provide you with insights into the latest technologies entering your field, innovative developments about to reach the market, the inventors working on these patents, and what technical problems must be overcome.
IP.com’s InnovationQ+™ allows you to perform this analysis with ease. Using a proprietary semantic AI engine, InnovationQ+ aggregates billions of global IP data points from patent and non-patent literature. This even includes fully searchable IEEE and One Petro content. All content is rated using a five-star relevancy system to determine which results are best suited to your search concept. The latest Hyper Dynamic Analyze mode (HD-Analyze mode) upgrade allows users to evaluate and pivot complex IP data in real time, ramping up landscape analysis capabilities.