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:
- Sometimes we forge a blind study comparing our clients with their competitors.
- 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.