It’s impossible for product management and product development specialists to do their job effectively if they don’t know how to do a competitive product analysis with the right tools.
No matter if you are going to launch a new product or strengthen the old ones, you need to research constantly the market and your competitors.
Thus you can create efficient product strategy, planning, and positioning.
Whatever you are selling software products, financial services or shoes, there are powerful tools and ways to watch out the competitive landscape.
On this page:
- What is a competitive product analysis? Definition
- How to do a competitive product analysis? Tips, tools, and guidelines
- Infographics in PDF
What is a competitive product analysis?
Let’s define and explain it:
A competitive product analysis is a process of gathering and understanding information about your competitor’s products to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.
Thereby you can analyze market trends, anticipate actions, and leverage the data to improve your marketing strategies and efforts.
You can use the competitive product analysis to enable your sales team as well as to develop or innovate your own products.
Generally, competitive product analysis has 3 key steps – track, analyze, and act.
If you are a product marketer, you are responsible for defining what to sell and how to sell it.
So, you need a deep understanding of the needs of the market to successfully position your brand or launch new products.
Researching competitors’ products and services is a core step in the overall competitive market research for finding out what your competitors are offering, to which customers and how your rivals innovate and update their proposals.
There are industries (like financial and software) where companies’ products and services are in a constant cycle of innovation.
And if you are operating in such an industry, it’s even more critical to gain constant insight into competitor’s offerings to be able to offer more.
Here are some essential questions you should find the answer:
- How are your competitor’s products positioned in the market?
(low-cost products, high-quality products, products with unique features, ease of use, etc.)
- What are the key marketing channels of the competitors for distributing their products/services?
(retail, brokers, franchising, direct marketing, affiliate marketing, etc.)
- Does your sales team know the strengths and weakness of your competitors’ products and services?
Is your team ready to sell effectively against them?
- Do competitors regularly discount their products or services? What is the size of the discount?
- How does your pricing compare? Are the competitors more or less costly? Why?
- How innovative are your competitor’s products? How regularly they update features?
How to gain answers to these questions?
Here are actionable techniques, tools, and ways for effective competitive product analysis:
How to do a competitive product analysis? Tips, tools, and guidelines
1. Check any of the product-related pages on your competitors’ websites
This includes product descriptions, product reviews by customers, help articles, forum activities, product photography, and more.
For example, the forum topics can give you valuable information about user experience (UX) and to show you which product areas are difficult to use.
The product description will give you an idea of how competitors explain their products and communicate details and benefits. Spot what information is missing in descriptions and think why.
The key point here is to check regularly competitor’s page to stay updated with the new movements and offers.
2. Purchase competitor products
The best way to understand how customers feel about your competitor’s products is to become a customer of your competitor.
And I mean to be a customer on a regular basis to follow updates and changes in the product strategies.
Purchasing competitor’s products will not only allow you to check out the product itself but also discover important details such as the time it takes to ship, the level of service, customer experience, how their packaging looks, etc.
Also, if available, you can register for a free trial (this is a very popular service especially in the software industry).
3. Understand the pricing
The pricing strategy is one of the most important components of every business – and holds key competitive advantages.
But just watching the numbers of prices is not enough for successful competitive product research.
You need to evaluate and understand all of the features and components of your competitor’s pricing strategy (such as discounts, fees, distributing channels, additional services, pricing segmentation, etc. )
Moreover, it is a must to educate your sales team about your competitor’s prices so that they can best position the value of your solutions.
How you can find info about competition prices for your competitive product analysis?
Check competitor’s websites and discount announcements, use competitor price tracking software as Prisync and Price2Spy, check sites specially created for reviewing products (as G2 Crowd and Software Advice in the software industry).
4. Keep an eye on product reviews
The number of third-party review sites for sharing customer feedback is constantly growing. It makes it incredibly easy for you to gain valuable info about your competitors.
For example, review websites such as G2 Crowd and Software Advice in the software industry, are full of customer advice, praise, recommendations, or complaining about your competitor’s products.
Other popular examples of sites where people share their experiences are Google Plus Local and Yelp.
Pay attention to how many reviews your competitors have in comparison to yours and how satisfied people are.
5. Use competitive intelligence tools
Nowadays, there are so powerful web competitive intelligence tools and even completely free online competitor analysis tools that allow you to monitor almost all aspects of your competition and to perform marketing intelligence on a high level with no efforts.
For example, Crayon is a powerful software solution that helps you track products and services at scale. They track 100+ different signals to provide you with a full picture of your competitors’ digital footprints.
Moat is a free tool for analyzing your competitors’ ad creative. It acts as a digital-ad search engine and shows you the competitor’s ad creative and campaigns.
6. Check discussion websites such as Quora and Reddit
Discussion websites such as Quora or Reddit are a gold mine for insights on market trends, questions, and competitor comparisons.
Moreover, these sites not only can give you information about your competitor’s products but also provide you with the opportunity to engage with potential and existing customers.
The questions and answers on Quora are so helpful. You are able to see what people are already talking about and what they are interested in.
Additionally, you can post your own questions and collect specific competitive product research.
7. Research Social Media
Nowadays, it is unthinkable to perform a competitive product analysis without researching comprehensively their social media profiles.
You know that the most popular social media channels are Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.
Visit your competitor’s social media pages to check out information related to their products.
You might want to see if they are presenting their products with gorgeous photographs or persuasive content that describes their product benefits.
Check also how many followers do competitors have. Are people reacting to the product text by liking or commenting on it?
Pay special attention to the type of content that people like, and don’t like.
Consider using social mentioning tools – they are doing a great job.
For example, Hootsuite is a social mentioning tool that allows you to see how often competitors post, how they engage with customers as well as allows you to manage greatly your own social media presence.
8. Use Social Searcher
Social Searcher is a great free online social media competitor analysis tool.
It provides you with a real-time search on the most popular social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
You can use it to see who mentioned your competitor’s products, and how often, on the key social media sites.
Practically, you are able to instantly measure and track what people are saying about your or your competitor’s brand, product, services and etc. in one easy to use data dashboard.
9. Use Talkwalker Alerts
Talkwalker Alerts is another free online web monitoring tool that can do a great job to support your competitive product analysis and research.
Talkwalker Alerts allows you to monitor the Internet for new content about your name, competitor’s products, or any other topic you want.
The tool can bring every single mention of your competitors across the Web – from websites, blogs, forums, and even Twitter to your inbox in one email.
Further, there are social media analytics filters that cover the most important conversations so you only receive the alerts that matter for you and can customize your strategy accordingly.
Talkwalker Alerts is a better alternative to Google Alerts when it comes to competitive analysis.
10. Use Moat
Moat is a free online tool for analyzing your competitors’ ad creative.
It acts as a digital-ad search engine. Moat shows you the competitor’s ad creative and campaigns.
Simply type in the online field a brand and you will see the ads that they are using.
It also displays the dimensions of the ad and the dates during which the ad was (is) active.
You can follow your competitors’ brands and get notified every time they publish a new ad.
11. Track testimonials and case studies on the competitor’s website
Tracking testimonials and case studies on a competitor’s website is a very useful way for competitive product analysis and research.
To stay on top of how your competitors are winning or losing clients with their product benefits, you need to track and analyze their testimonial pages, case study pages, YouTube channel, and etc.
Are competitors adding new case studies or customer testimonials on or off their web pages?
Testimonials can show you how much the customers are satisfied with the competitor’s products and which benefits the customers like the most.
Check these pages regularly as they show how effectively your competitor sell products and services and builds brand strength across your industry.
12. Survey competitor customers
Your competitor’s customers can give you fresh and real information on their new proposals, discounts, promotions, or loyalty programs.
Do your competitor surprise their customers on their birthday or invite them to education events?
Ask clients what features and benefits do they like about their products and what they don’t.
Also, if it’s possible try to survey high profile competitor customers as they can explain what keeps them loyal to the brand.
13. Ask your customers
This is an absolutely critical moment in your competitive product analysis.
Whenever you acquire a new customer, ask them who they used before, and why they turned to you. Find out why they are dissatisfied with the previous supplier’s products.
If you collect a good number of answers from your clients as well as those of your competitors’, you’ll understand clearly which product’s benefits customers view as important and preferable.
You can then adjust your own proposals to gain competitive advantages and even beat competitors.
14. Use Adbeat
Adbeat will provide you with deep insights into your competitor’s digital advertising.
It allows you to monitor and analyze all the product advertisements that your competitors publish. Thus, you can spy on your competitor’s ad strategies
Adbeat shows you the messaging, creative, placement, size, the number of ads, ad channels, the types of ads, and many other types of data for how the competitors advertise their products.
You are able to see the value propositions your competitors are focusing on. And all of these – for free.
15. Use Mailcharts
Mailchart is a free email marketing tool that can show you how competitors use email campaigns to promote their product.
It collects emails from competing campaigns to help you develop your own as well as research competitors.
Mailhcharts has an enormous library of emails from countless brands.
It can track and monitor your competitors and their brands to regularly be notified of their activity.
In addition, Mailcharts can compare competitor’s campaigns to your business’ campaigns to let you see where your emails stand.
Moreover, Mailcharts offers a lot of email examples for your inspiration. This way, you can understand what today’s top-performing emails look like.
The tool has a free account that allows you to track 3 companies.
All these tools and ways to collect data can be a great foundation for competitive product analysis.
By understanding what your competitors are doing with their products, you can be more flexible, react properly to their actions and create a successful data driven decision making process.
For example, they might lower pricing, implement new products, make attractive discounts, and take other similar activities that can lead to their market growth.
Competitive product analysis is meaningless if you do it once in a while.
What will help you succeed is knowing on time what your competitor is going to do. Thereby you can create a strategic response to avoid dangerous surprises.
What are your favorite tools and techniques for researching your competitor’s product strategies? Share your thoughts with us.