How to Use Research to Steal Your Competitors’ Customers

In a traditional competitive analysis, marketers rarely actually talk to their customers. This is odd, as the analysis is looking for opportunities where the company is better than its competition, and instances in which the customer might choose it over the competition.

Consider a typical approach to a competitive analysis in which marketers merely create detailed spreadsheets of the competition’s value propositions, product features and more. Similarly, the SWOT analysis method (identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for a venture) is simply a list. Creating a conventional competitor profile talks about the customers, but not to them. Even with a Net Promoter Score (NPS), companies still only hear from their own customers, and not the customers of their competition.

The problem is that companies base their marketing and product development strategy on a list, rather than real insights. This hinders the ability to develop stories to which actual customers can connect, and that draw customers away from competitor brands.

In this post, we’ll discuss how speaking directly to your competitor’s customers highlights real opportunities for creating products, services and information they want. This can help you lure your competitor’s customers over to your market.

Gaining the “Swing Vote”

Just as in politics, there exists a percentage of customers who don’t have brand loyalty, and can swing the vote in favor of new voices. In some cases, brand loyalty in the United States is as low as 25 percent , a number significantly lower than in decades past. Particularly among people in their 20s, we see a departure from big brands, and the preference for better deals and offbeat products. Down the road, this could spell trouble for even the largest retailers.

Getting this swing vote requires looking beyond current customers. While testing your messaging or products can provide valuable insight from your own customer base, it ignores potential buyers who can go either way – the purchases that define who’s in the lead.

It’s important to note, however, that those without solid brand loyalty don’t always vote based on price, and to assume so is dangerous. Last year, YouEye helped Microsoft discover what drives brand loyalty in tech, and found reliability, quality, and a human connection trump sticking with a brand because of the name. This was true among both millennials and a slightly older generation – customers were willing to pay for efficiency and ease of use in their technology.

Another aspect of marketing to the swing vote based on price is its impact on how your brand is perceived. Some marketers are so focused on offering the lowest prices that they carve out a niche that is not ideal. These brands become reliant on customers with high attrition and low margin, and aren’t even considered by the swing vote.

Learn What Your Competitor’s Customers Think

Branding tends to be narcissistic, and focuses on the “what can I do better?” approach. A superior method is to ask what your competition does exceptionally well, and then actually compete for their customers.

At YouEye, we secure qualitative customer insight on client competitors in different ways:

  1. Sometimes we forge a blind study comparing our clients with their competitors.
  2. Other times, we create the same kind of report on competitors that we would for our own clients by talking to the competition’s actual customers about their experiences.

Such research goes a long way in terms of competitive analysis and intelligence, ultimately for product development and marketing choices.

In a report on how customer behavior and assessment works in the insurance sector, YouEye pitted providers against each other. We found that brand recognition was important, but good reviews could be even more valuable.

It’s all about capitalizing on what consumers like about other brands, while also countering the things they dislike. Bottom line: qualitative research is a fabulous way to get into the minds of your competitors’ customers, and figure out where you can become more attractive to detractors.

Go directly to the source, and find out why people love your competitor. With the right qualitative research and analysis, you’ll be able to lure those “swing voters” away, and truly compete with industry leaders.

Best Practices

3 Ways Qualitative Research Infuses Persona Building

Personas are profiles that represent the typical consumers of your brand, and function to give you a target. Any product manager, e-commerce leader or marketer should look to personas when making significant decisions about their products, websites or brand.

Because your target audience impacts so many of your decisions, qualitative research is a great way to obtain details that better equip your team to build believable, more realistic pictures of who our target market is.

Let’s go over three ways qualitative research infuses persona building.

1. Making Human-Centered Decisions

Your business provides products and solutions for real people and their needs. While the way personas are typically created today are handy, they are often manufactured representations without much validation. Qualitative research brings your personas to life, and allows you to make human-centered decisions.

At YouEye, for example, we conduct video-recorded research with people who actually use the product or service in question. This gives new perspective on who your personas are, which you just can’t get from your analytics data.

Quantitative data certainly has its place, but qualitative research makes the data breathe with heart and soul, and gives validation to your best guesses and assumptions about who your target audience is and what it needs.

2. Analyzing True Behavior

Even when personas are developed through qualitative research, simply recording what a person says does not necessarily reflect the whole story. Qualitative research done professionally can reveal what lies beneath the surface.

For example, a participant’s actual preferences may not align with what they are saying – and only through analysis can this be revealed. Often, participants will project an image that’s not a true representation of them or their true behavior. Qualitative research lets us assess both participants’ words and their response to stimuli.

3. Discovering New Personas

In your qualitative research, you may have started with one objective and ended with a discovery you hadn’t planned on – a new type of persona or new set of needs for a persona that you hadn’t thought of before.

On the other hand, you might discover during your qualitative research that your target audience is not who you thought it was based on their reaction to the stimuli.

In sum, remember that consumers are smart, and recognize when a company is in touch (or not) with their needs and preferences. Fortunately, qualitative research is a viable option to staying connected with your personas.

As we wrap up this post, here are a few takeaways:

  1. We live in an era with numerous tools for finding and gathering data. Take advantage of the “real person” factor with qualitative research!
  2. Qualitative data is easy to collect, and a great way to validate quantitative data and those “hunches” about your target market.
  3. The user is always right, and through qualitative research, you can even dive into the psychology behind the persona.

Best Practices, User Research

What Matters to SMBs When Considering Financial Services and Institutions

Small business owners have a unique set of concerns when it comes to choosing a financial institution and products like loans. YouEye investigated the motivations and behaviors of small business owners on the hunt for financial institutions and services. We invited 13 participants – all small business owners with 15 or fewer employees – to share their experiences around their journey.

What Do Small Business Owners Look for in a Loan?

Small business owners have a vision for what qualities they find most desirable in a loan – and much of it is more than just numbers. In fact, all 13 small business owners mentioned “great support” as a top attribute.

Other qualities mentioned were:

  • Low, reasonable interest rates (54 percent)
  • No surprises in the total cost to borrowers (23 percent)
  • Sufficient repayment periods (23 percent)

When finding a loan, small business owners typically looked into a bank’s website (54 percent), performed a Google search (31 percent) or called a personal banker (23 percent).

Credit unions and were also on the path of research for small business loans. Although most chose the online route for research, some reached out to friends and family for information, too.

When asked about their preferred channel of communication for loan and financial service inquiries, 46 percent said online, 38 percent said in person, and only 7 percent wanted to use the phone.

YouEye Slide Screenshot

Obviously, a lender’s online presence plays heavily into small business owners’ decisions. Potential borrowers want access to online content that advises and educates. Check out the following takeaways on structuring your online content with visitors in mind:

  • Design content to be easily navigated and focused on answering questions.
  • Anticipate where user information needs vary and where needs are more uniform.

Why Connectivity Matters to Small Business Owners

Simple, efficient access to banking services is a must for small business owners. When it comes to how small business owners interact with their financial institution, there were daily, weekly and monthly tasks that were integral to them. During a typical week, small business owners:

  • Make payments and deposits
  • Withdraw from the ATM
  • Review transactions
  • Check balances

On a monthly basis, small business owners:

  • Access statements
  • Check balances
  • Check payments
  • Make transfers
  • Make payments

Connectivity between apps is becoming the standard in the digital era. Our participants reported that connections between banks accounts and PayPal, Quicken, QuickBooks, Square and Excel were essential. Beyond that, support for this connectivity through technology like live chat is something small business owners liked.

Mobile access to banking was also used by 11 of the 13 participants. The efficiency and on-the-go access of mobile applications was considered beneficial to a percentage of small business owners surveyed.

YouEye Slide Screenshot

Financial institutions can meet that desire for connectivity by looking to a few takeaways from our study:

  • Provide interactive tools that allow visitors to work through potential scenarios, giving a sense of future interaction.
  • Continuously improve customer experience through designs for connectivity and other features.
  • Engage small business owners with mobile applications or responsive site design, and relevant content.

Small business owners have a unique set of challenges that financial institutions can provide services for and information around. The trick is getting into the minds of these prospects to learn how they seek content, what questions they have along the way, and what sorts of products appeal to them most. Qualitative research is just one way to facilitate that.


YouEye Secures Strategic Investment from Gfk for Advanced Customer Experience Analytics

Mountain View, CA and New York, NY- March 10, 2015 – Agile research technology innovator YouEye and global market research leader GfK today announced a strategic partnership that teams the industry-leading strengths of each company to transform customer insights. Under the partnership, GfK will leverage YouEye’s state of the art behavioral analytics technologies to augment their world-class market research solutions. Together, the companies will innovate and introduce new products and services.

YouEye’s agile research platform is grounded in two core capabilities:

  • Multimedia “in the wild” desktop and mobile experience capture, and
  • Full-scale qualitative analytics including behavioral, sentiment, and natural language technologies

The relationship enables GfK to incorporate YouEye’s proprietary, cloud-based platform into their own suite of technologies. As a result, GfK can introduce highly differentiated and advanced solutions to its customers. Gfk will see their CEO of Consumer Experiences for North America, David Krajicek, join YouEye’s board of directors.

“We’re very pleased to be partnering with such an innovative company. We believe the next few years will see YouEye rapidly change the way consumer research is conducted, driving speed, automation, and analytics in the space,” said Krajicek. “YouEye’s agile research solution is the perfect complement to the technology GfK has pioneered internally and, together, we look forward to capturing the customer experience with increased depth, scale, and efficiency.”

YouEye currently provides agile research services and technology to some of the world’s leading brands such as T-Mobile, Unilever, Walmart, and eBay.

“By adding GfK to our investors, we’re taking a huge step forward in expanding our reach into the Fortune 1000. GfK has an unparalleled reputation in the consumer and market research space, and we’re excited to learn from and innovate with such a globally-recognized brand,” said Malcolm Stewart, CEO of YouEye.

About YouEye

YouEye is taking consumer research to the next level. Its cloud-based SaaS platform empowers companies to quickly identify the greatest opportunities for optimizing their product, marketing, and eCommerce programs. A leader in qualitative analytics, YouEye provides best in class solutions for market research. YouEye specializes in mobile optimization, behavior recognition and sentiment analysis, and native environment testing.

About GfK

GfK is the trusted source of relevant market and consumer information that enables its clients to make smarter decisions. More than 13,000 market research experts combine their passion with GfK’s long-standing data science experience. This allows GfK to deliver vital global insights matched with local market intelligence from more than 100 countries. By using innovative technologies and data sciences, GfK turns big data into smart data, enabling its clients to improve their competitive edge and enrich consumers’ experiences and choices.

Press Contact for YouEye:

Jocelyn Linde


Press Contact for GfK:

Jan Saeger, Global Director Communications

+49 911 395 4087


Abercrombie & Fitch: What Happens When You Don’t Listen to Your Market

What happened to Abercrombie & Fitch? Once one of the most popular brands for high school and college aged-shoppers, it’s now dying a slow, steady death. Why? Because it failed to listen to what the market was telling it.

Here, we’ll look at the cautionary tale of Abercrombie & Fitch and its former CEO, Mike Jeffries. We’ll also check out a brand that’s succeeding in an arena where Abercrombie failed, because it’s putting its products firmly in place of its target market’s needs.

The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercrombie & Fitch was founded in the 1890s as a sporting goods store. With Teddy Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway counted among its customers, the retailer was known for serving the adventurous and elite. However, by the later decades of the 20th century, the company had fallen on hard times.

After purchasing Abercrombie in 1988, The Limited tried to revive the old-school sporting goods brand, but with no success. Croquet sets and long skirts just didn’t cut it with the market.

Enter Michael Jeffries. In 1992, Abercrombie hired the CEO to turn things around, and he created an atmosphere of fun, attractive and preppy style. The company went public in 1996 and saw annual profit increases, while Jeffries continued to influence every aspect of the brand’s image, right down to the fingernails of store cashiers.

Lifestyle and appearance were of utmost importance, and he insisted on highly attractive employees, loud music and shuttered stores that represented a (then) desirable exclusivity to teens.

Abercrombie Store Front

It didn’t last. By the 2001 recession, sales were declining. Jeffries refused to lower prices, even in the face of competition from trendier, less expensive retailers. Other problems arose as Abercrombie got embroiled in controversies over racism, ageism and sexism.

Examples of this include shirts punning on Asian names, and pre-teen thongs advertising “eye candy.” Further, young people began viewing the store as discriminatory against shoppers with larger body types and applicants who weren’t white. Rather than revisit their entire approach, Abercrombie settled suits out of court and sold a few items in larger sizes – primarily online.

The thing is, the elitist approach – the very thing the brand was building itself on – was the problem. Excluding people because of size and race just doesn’t sit well with a market as large as Abercrombie’s.

In another vein, the hyper-sexualized images of muscular, shirtless young men standing outside stores and nearly nude couples making out in advertisements verge on inappropriate to some (remember, it’s the parents who are most likely spending money there). Needless to say, parents who already don’t want to overspend on jeans will likely take their business elsewhere.

Something else spelled trouble for Abercrombie: “Fast fashion.” Stores like H&M, Forever 21, and Zara focus on bringing new trends to their shelves quickly and inexpensively. Quality and logo aren’t important, as teens want resources for fun new clothes they can afford on a regular basis.

In terms of numbers, Abercrombie & Fitch’s outlook is bleak: 180 stores have closed in the last three years. The July 2011 stock price of $77.14 fell to $26.80 as of Feb. 13, 2015. Sure, the company has made a few tweaks to counter, like brighter lit stores, smaller logos and (finally) reducing prices. But the feeling is it’s too little, too late.

Brandy Melville: An Elitist Approach That’s Working

Alternatively, there is a brand that is doing elitist, but in a way that speaks to their target market. That’s because the product research team is entirely made up of its target market: teenage girls.

Brandy Melville is an Italian fashion company that keeps stores on the U.S. coasts and in Hawaii. It has a reputation of being tight-lipped with the press, but the brand makes the most of social media (where its target market is). The ubiquitous “Brandy girls” are featured everywhere, including on its highly popular Instagram.

What makes Brandy Melville an elitist company is that it mostly sells clothing in one size. While some have criticized the clothes for only fitting the slim and trim, the target market keeps going back for more. And it’s working – at least for now.


One of the team members was quoted recently on Racked:

“Product research is made up of all teenage girls,” explains Kjerstin Skorge, a 16-year-old from Malibu. “There’s about 20 of us.” The girls work paid shifts in the back room of the brand’s Santa Monica store, where they brainstorm new concepts and consult on existing ones.

So, what does this tale of two brands tell us?

Effectively listening to the target market by putting in the research to understand who they are and what they want is crucial to the success of a long-lasting brand. If Abercrombie had listened, it might not be where it is today. Whether Brandy Melville will continue to reign without much fuss from those who don’t appreciate the “one-size-fits-all” model remains to be seen.

But one thing is for certain: Fashion retailers come and go, and to have staying power, reinvention through the needs of the market is key.