Converting Competitive Intelligence into Market Share

October 02, 2017

In order to promote your brand effectively, you need to know what makes you stand out from the competition, and how you can improve on this position to generate growth.

Below we look at examples of how this has been done effectively, examining how you can leverage competitive intelligence to increase your market share.

Part 1: How to gather competitor intelligence

Through the process of competitive analysis, you should be able to build a detailed picture of consumers that have chosen a competitor’s product or service, understanding not just their demographic profile, but also their mindset and motivations.

This is difficult to do using many of today's existing tools, from social media monitoring or annual brand health reports. Often they only scrape the surface, track an unrepresentative sample, or don't happen frequently enough to be useful day-to-day.

Today's senior marketing leaders need a tool that can track core brand metrics over time, go deeper to understand what drives those metrics, and monitor the same vital information amongst your competitors.

This led us to develop Attest’s Brand Intelligence tools.

Below we have outlined the key questions to be considered when gathering competitor intelligence.

What competitor product features are most popular with your audience?

Quantifying the popularity of competitor’s features effectively allows you to harness your competitor’s products as an R&D resource. It's easy to panic when a close competitor releases a new product or service, extension or upgrade...should you respond? Will it help them win market share? Are you falling behind?

These are all questions that you need solid data on, otherwise you end up trying to respond to everything (or nothing), which can lead to knee-jerk reactions, off-the-cuff strategy decisions and an inconsistent product roadmap.

So rather than trying to answer those questions to a panicky CEO without data, we'd suggest you keep close tabs on key competitors, so you can monitor how consumers are responding to their updates and releases over time. This way you'll be alerted when something does resonate and stick, allowing you to respond quickly to it, while helping you ignore everything else so you can focus on your own core strategy.

By gathering marketing intelligence you can start a dialogue with your competitor’s customers, and thus decide what features of competitor’s products should be incorporated into your own.

instagram_vs._snapchat.png

A good example of using feature-based competitive intelligence to gain market share would be Instagram’s approach to Snapchat. Instagram incorporated the more popular SnapChat features into their 'Instagram stories' product in Q3 2016. By doing this, Instagram was able to gain significant market share. After just one month, the feature had user numbers two thirds the size of Snapchat’s total membership!

Figures released earlier this year highlight how much this affected Snapchat. A sudden slowing in growth, down to only 7%, demonstrates a clear swing in the market towards Instagram, which then reduced to just 3.2%. 

snapchat-instagram-growth.png

source: https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/02/slowchat/

Identify areas in which competitor’s brands and services are perceived positively in comparison to yours.

Nobody wants to compete on price alone (the dreaded 'race to the bottom' where your product becomes an easily switched commodity). Yet prized consumer sentiments such as quality, trust, innovation and coolness are much more difficult associations for a brand to build, particularly as a challenger against well entrenched market leaders.

For example, Aldi noticed that shoppers perceived branded products to be of a higher quality than the value products on their shelves.

Aldi then gathered additional competitive intelligence suggesting a large portion of supermarket shoppers would be opposed to changing their buying habits to lower value brands.

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Of course, Aldi already had a great business model. By reducing choice, Aldi was able to offer products of similar quality to the 'Big 4' supermarkets at a reduced price. Good Housekeeping even voted Aldi’s Christmas Pudding as better than that of Harrods and Heston’s in a blind taste test!

However, Aldi also recognised they needed to tackle this reluctance to switch from recognised brands in order to gain market share in the UK, 

So based on the competitive intelligence they had gathered, the game-changer for Aldi arrived when they changed the packaging of their own-brand products to echo that of the more established brands - closer than anyone had ever dared to before.

This meant a smaller behavioural change for shoppers, as they were buying products that looked and performed the same as in other supermarkets, shifting their focus on to cost-savings rather than any perceived quality change. And Aldi's market share has continued to climb.

Part 2: How to communicate with competitors' customers

Once you've run your analysis, and you know you can solve consumers' pain points better than your competitors, how can you reach their customers to let them know? Large-scale above the line advertising campaigns are the nuclear option, but there are other lower cost options likely to yield a greater ROI….

Target Facebook users whose interests include your competitors

Facebook allows you to target users that either follow or have shown an interest in a particular brand. Building a campaign around those that follow your competitors will allow you to place adverts and sponsored content extolling the virtues of your brand in front of them.

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Disrupt your competitors' videos with YouTube Ads
On YouTube an advert is shown to a user every 4 minutes. Where a competitor has purchased an advert but has not bought the surrounding banner ad spacing, you have an opportunity to steal their thunder.  

 

Target your competitors' Twitter followers

Twitter allows you to target your competitors' followers, so you can reach all those consumers who are currently fans of these brands in order to get your message across. In our experience, sponsored content is likely to work better than straight-up adverts on Twitter. 
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Use Google custom affinity audience to reach people interested in competitors via display 

According to Google, their custom affinity audience allows advertisers to reach people interested in products and services similar to those that your business offers. This makes it perfect for conveying messages to key competitors when combined with a display campaign on the Google Display Network.


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In conclusion

There are very few markets where brand loyalty has been created to such an extent that customers will use one particular brand exclusively, without considering alternatives.

With this in mind, where you have identified that you have an edge over competitors - based on what consumers' value most - and your brand intelligence shows that potential customers are not aware of this, it is crucial to build channels of communication where you can engage with consumers and inform them.

It's also important to remember that brand perceptions and consumer tastes can experience small shifts on an almost daily basis, so if these are not monitored closely, larger shifts can sneak up on us.

Alternatively, if you're using Brand Intelligence to monitor the relationship between consumers, your brand and key competitors, you can be the one to spot a shift that opens up a new opportunity for you to win over competitors' customers, grow market share and increase revenues.

Interested to learn how Attest's Brand Intelligence can help you convert competitive intelligence into market share? Contact us today and we'll show you how

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Who's going to stand out this year? Will brands that took a battering in 2017 make a statement in 2018? Will it be the year of challenger brands or incumbents?

To bring you answers to these questions (and more), we reached out to 4 experts with very different backgrounds across startups, content, social media, experiential marketing and audio to share their unique perspectives on who are the brands to watch in 2018.

Alison Battisby, Founder, Avocado Social

Monzo: The digital mobile-only challenger bank saw nearly half a million new users sign up for its services and claim their bright orange bank cards last year. Monzo is a fantastic way to manage your budget thanks to their instant updates in the app showing you how much you've just spent, and provide added value when used abroad thanks to their free withdrawls up to £200. 

Having just received their full UK banking license from the FCA and PRA in 2017, Monzo is rolling out "the best current account in the world". With their slick app and excellent communication, they are playing to millennials by offering a unique customer experience and we're set to see even more new banking features in 2018. 
Sanctus:  The mental health startup based in London has the vision to create the world's first mental health gym, where people can go and work out their mental health fitness as they would their physical fitness. Right now, the company is working with businesses to create space within a company for people to take time off and talk to a Sanctus coach. In 2018, the company aims to work with 50 business partners and continue to spread awareness of mental health. Founder   James Routledge   writes an excellent weekly newsletter on mental health and growing the startup, which is honestly written and is well worth a read .
 
Neom Organics:  Hot off the heels of significant new investment, this Harrogate-based beauty and wellbeing brand is set to launch a new range of products in 2018, as well as new retail stores both in the UK and abroad. Neom was found by two friends, one of which was an ex Glamour magazine editor who realised her own wellbeing, and that of her close friends, was affected by the stress and demands of modern life. She quit journalism to train as an aromatherapist and nutritionist before founding Neom. The brand's products focus on improving people’s wellbeing through home fragrances and skincare. 
 
Adam Azor, Managing Director, Curb
 
My first pick is Pepsi. Lets be honest, Pepsi had an awful 2017 from a brand perspective, they created what they thought was going to be a work of advertising art, an ad that would change the world, but instead it turned them into a global laughing stock.
 
This is also on a backdrop of huge backlash and increased legislation against sugary drinks. The days when all they had to worry about was competing against Coca-Cola are probably looked on with nostalgia by the marketing team. However Pepsi are a brand with true marketing pedigree, iconic campaigns, partnerships and experiences.
 
 
I’m really interested to see how they come back. The test of a great brand is how they react when they are at their lowest. I will be watching Pepsi closely in 2018 to see what they have planned.

My second one to watch for 2018, is the darling of the Aim, BooHoo. The online based fashion retailer has gone through exceptional growth over the last few years, along with some very smart acquisitions.

However they are now at the point where brand building is becoming as important as performance marketing. I expect an innovative business such as BooHoo to evolve its marketing activity to ensure it not only continues its business growth but becomes a brand leader in its own right.

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