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Watch on-demand: Know thy enemy – The art of competitor intelligence

The business world is full of analogies about how to beat your competition – there are boxing puns, running puns, and puns about battles.

The language around competitor intelligence is generally focused on being stronger, being better and being more well-informed, and at Relative Insight, we’re most interested in helping our customers to win the race and fight the war through actionable insights that will actually change the way they work.

To say that robust competitor analysis is crucially important for any business, brand or organization to succeed is another one of those business cliches. Most of us have a good idea about who our competitors are and what they do, we know why we think they’re different to us, and we know why we think we’re better than them – but do we really know what our actual customers think, and how our target market differentiates us?

Hosted by Relative Insight’s customer success manager, Holly Clarkson, our latest Spotlight Series hybrid event demonstrated the importance of competitor intelligence, shedding light on new competitor research techniques that enable you to gain powerful consumer insights about the competitors you know about – but more importantly the ones you don’t.

We were joined by expert panelists Peter DeTrempe (Harte Hanks), Ben Thrasher (Superunion) and Felicity Edwards (Relative Insight) who talked about the importance of whitespace analysis, how brands can differentiate themselves and how to turn brand loyalists into advocates.  

The session also included a special keynote speaker – Gideon Wilkins, Head of Research at McCann Central. He discussed an agency-specific competitor use case, which sought to answer the question: Is there a simpler richer way of doing early-stage campaign testing without the slowness of a focus group and the transactional outcomes of quant research?

Taking a deep dive into pizza marketing

At Relative Insight, we know that comparison is an efficient and scalable way to analyze unstructured data, revealing sophisticated competitor insights you didn’t know to look for. Our host, Holly, presented an example of competitor research conducted by Relative Insight, looking how eight pizza restaurants position themselves in a busy landscape, and how customers also speak about these brands on social media.

Masterclass on Competitor Benchmarking

Keynote speaker, Gideon Wilkins from McCann reflected on the history of market research – with quantitative often used for robust measurement and qualitative for in depth. He discussed how even qual approaches were often outdated commenting, “We took people out of their real lives, into an artificial environment. It was slow, reflective and inflexible.”

McCann wanted to carry out early-stage concept testing to gain a richer understanding of advertising concepts before committing to full-scale production. However, rather than using traditional methods such as surveys and online panels, McCann wanted to replicate authentic conversations with participants – using chatbots via Facebook Messenger and live intercept social ads.

McCann presentation

To understand their own methodologies in comparison to competitor tools, McCann compared responses from traditional research platforms such as Zappi (survey) and Dynata (online panel) to responses from their chatbots. What they found was that McCann’s conversational approach to research was:

  • 7x more likely to generate themes that were cocreative – Participants talked about opportunities and gave constructive feedback on where the advert could be improved.
  • 2x more engaging – Participants on messenger doubled how many words they used to describe an advert in comparison to survey responses.

Panel discussion

The discussion evolved into a generic exploration of competitor analysis and brand strategy, with our expert panel diving deep into questions such as: What is whitespace analysis? How should a brand differentiate themselves? How can brand managers better address their consumers needs? A key takeaway here was to never underestimate your competitors. In order to fully differentiate, take a step back and ask: who exactly is my tribe?

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.

Sun Tzu