Most marketing departments assess their market position based on a standard set of their “greatest hits” reports, routinely tracking the same metrics such as market share, profit margin, and competitive position. But by focusing on a limited set of market indicators you will certainly miss new opportunities and threats that could dramatically impact your business overnight.
Here are three ways to get out of your “analysis rut” by taking a fresh perspective that can lead you to breakthrough insights about your marketplace:
1. Scrutinize non-traditional competitors
Most analyses of competitors tend to focus primarily on the big players – that is, the current dominant market-share rivals. But try taking a closer look at your other competition, namely:
- Small rivals
- Emerging competitors
- Substitute-product providers
- New alliances
Some of the innovations from these players will likely become game-changers in your market. Can you identify what those innovations are and how you could respond?
2. Get a different kind of customer feedback
Market research that focuses mainly on the needs and opinions of your current customers leaves out a big part of the market picture. If you invest more time getting feedback from lost customers, you will likely learn far more about what it takes to excel in the market – and how and where your competitors are beating you.
Remember your satisfaction surveys with current customers tell you nothing about how the customers who have left you experienced your products’ flaws, feel about your service levels, or want you to change the way your sales force engages with them. It’s important for you to understand where you might have fallen short and how to avoid the same happening again.
3. Consider the wider impact of changing consumer preferences
Take a broader look at evolving attitudes of your target customers that could affect your market position.
For example, if you were in the automotive industry focusing exclusively on car-buying preferences – such as the relative appeal of electric vs. hybrid vehicles – you would have been blind-sided by the market impact of many millennials’ preference for using riding-sharing services such as Uber rather than owning a car. Seek out research on consumer and demographic trends that could have a profound impact on your target market.
Similarly, take a broader perspective in analyzing the strengths and vulnerabilities of your company and your competitors – not just in the finished products but also in factors such as raw materials, labor supply, equipment and capital.
For example, the market leadership of the tech and industrial product manufacturers who rely on rare-earth minerals in China was recently thrown into jeopardy as China threatened to block U.S. access to those minerals. Try to identify your company’s vulnerabilities and strategies for protecting your position as well as how to capitalize on a competitor’s loss of a strategic advantage.
These are just a few of the techniques in my book The Insight Discipline: Crafting New Marketplace Understanding that Makes a Difference. I also encourage you to read and comment on my other blogs. and consider signing up for my course at ISBM on Advanced Market and Competitive Analysis and Insights.
About the author: Dr. Liam Fahey’s consulting, teaching, research and writing focus on enabling organizations to win in the marketplace through enhanced marketplace intelligence and insight. Liam advises leaders, conducts workshops, consults to analysis specialists, and engages with work teams in all facets of generating and leveraging marketplace intelligence and insight.
Liam has an extensive academic background and 30 years of practical experience in a variety of industries around the world. His corporate clients include some of the world’s best-known brands and he has delivered executive education for more than 10 universities around the globe. His custom-designed intelligence and insight workshops have enabled organizations to develop a deeper understanding of their emerging and potential competitive environments; understanding that makes a real difference in their thinking, decisions, and action. The difference is reflected in the development of new points of view about the future, new strategy options, new modes of strategy execution, and new organization-wide capabilities.