The competitive landscape refers to the existing market for your product or service. It represents every product a consumer could choose over the product your company offers. The competitive landscape can indicate a company’s position in the market and influence its business strategy.
A great example of a competitive landscape is the coffee shop sector. The main players, Starbucks, Dunkin’, Tim Hortons, etc., offer convenience and reasonable pricing, though they might not serve the highest quality coffee. On the other side of the competitive landscape, you have independent coffee shops that offer a bespoke experience and higher quality coffee. However, this comes at the cost of convenience.
Knowing your market’s competitive landscape is crucial to your success.
Mapping out your competition helps you improve your brand proposition, build a more attractive product, have a strong competitive advantage in your chosen niche, and prevent common pitfalls like overlapping with a competitor’s branding or solutions.
By conducting an analysis of the competitive landscape, you put power back into your own hands and stack up competitively against the rivals in your space.
A competitive landscape map is a visual tool that helps a business understand its position in the market.
The map consists of four values that represent important aspects of products in your market. Companies or their products are positioned on the map depending on where they fit, giving you a complete picture of the competitive landscape and where your business fits into it.
Mapping your competition in this way is similar to SWOT analysis, but it provides a visual representation that can help quickly identify competitive advantages and disadvantages.
Mapping the competitive landscape allows a business to identify where it stands in the marketplace.
This can help influence future strategy because you can see market gaps.
The gaps in the market could represent an opportunity for innovation. This could be a new product, a new feature, or improvements to how you interact with customers.
It can also help you avoid costly mistakes like sinking money into an idea that your competitors already have.
To conduct a competitive landscape analysis, a company needs to examine the following five areas:
Who your company’s key competitors are
What products, services, or general solutions your competitors are offering
The strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ solutions
Which strategies successful competitors are using
The overall market outlook of your niche
Identification is the main tactic of any successful competitive landscape analysis.
The best way to research a competitive landscape is via frameworks.
These analysis frameworks are designed to better structure thinking, meaning that logical thought flows freely and can be easily represented using visuals. They work to facilitate understanding, especially if multiple team members are working on analyzing the same business landscape.
Out tip tips for researching your competitive landscape include:
“Befriending” your competition by signing up for their newsletters or following their social media accounts. This provides first-hand insight into upcoming products and marketing tactics
Creating a comparison matrix to provide you and your team with a side-by-side comparison of all the comparable solutions in your market (as well as how they compare to one another)
Evaluating their pricing
Crafting a SWOT analysis to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to both your company and your competitors
Visiting a competitor’s website is often the first step in any chosen analysis framework.
Let’s take a look at an example of the competitive landscape from the technology industry:
Google’s main competitors are Yahoo!, Microsoft, Swiftype, and Inflow. To begin an analysis of the competitive landscape, Google would categorize the entirety of their products and services. Then, they’d compare them directly to the products and services that each of their key competitors has in the market.
After sorting each product or service into its own category, Google would proceed to identify each company’s price, social media content, general marketing, target audience, and customer service tactics. All of this would then be added to a competitive landscape matrix, where Google could line up each competitor side-by-side with each other for direct comparisons and slot each of their own products and services into the matrix to see how they stack up against the competition.