Competitive analysis: 5 key steps to success

Analyses concurrentielles: Guide en 5 étapes-clés

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Are you planning to launch a new product or service, or looking to strengthen your market position? Competitive analysis is essential to help you understand your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and challenges specific to your sector.

Competitive analysis enables you to develop a solid marketing strategy, enabling you to stand out from the crowd and create a sustainable competitive advantage. However, carrying out such an analysis can seem complex. What are the steps involved? What sources of information should be exploited?

This article offers you a 5-step guide to carrying out a complete competitive analysis. You’ll learn how to define your objectives, identify your competitors, collect the necessary data, analyze trends, develop an effective competitive strategy and deploy it. Tips on the tools and methods available to simplify your analysis are also included.

Step 1: Define your objectives and identify your competitors

Before embarking on a competitive analysis, it’s essential to clearly define your objectives. Identify the problems to be solved, the strategic decisions to be made and the performance indicators to be monitored.

Define the scope and objectives of the analysis

The objectives of a competitive analysis differ according to the field and the dynamics of the company. Here are some common objectives:

Mapping direct, indirect and potential competitors

Once you’ve defined your objectives, you need to identify your competitors in the marketplace. There are three categories of competitors:

To visualize this, you can use competitive mapping to position offers according to criteria such as price and quality. This will highlight similarities, differences and niches to exploit.

Selecting competitors for analysis

It’s neither necessary nor realistic to examine every competitor on the market. Choose the ones that are most important to your company, based on your objectives and positioning. Here are some selection criteria:

Once you’ve selected the relevant competitors, you can collect data and continue your analysis.

Step 2: Collect competitive data

Multiply your sources of information

To get the information you need on your competitors, you need several sources of information. These fall into two main categories:

It is advisable to cross-reference information from different sources to obtain a complete and objective view of the competition. For more details, see our article on information sources for competitive intelligence.

Collect quantitative and qualitative data

Competitive data can be either quantitative or qualitative, each providing different information:

The combination of quantitative and qualitative data provides a complete picture of the competition.

Create a competitive database

Once the data has been collected, it needs to be stored in a competitive database. This will enable you to centralize, classify, update and easily consult information on your competitors. This database can take the form of a table, software or online platform. To set up this database, you can follow the steps below:

  1. Define classification criteria (competitor name, type of information, collection date, source);
  2. Opt for an appropriate format and medium (Excel file, CRM software, online platform);
  3. Enter information in accordance with criteria and verify data accuracy;
  4. Regularly update the database, adding, modifying or deleting information as necessary;
  5. Use the database for research, analysis and reporting, according to your needs.

A quality competitive database will save you time and accuracy in your competitive intelligence process, enabling you to move on to data analysis and trend identification.

Once you’ve collected your competitive data, you need to analyze and interpret it to derive information useful to your strategy. This step enables you to identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as market trends and opportunities.

Use analysis methods and tools

The analysis of competitive data can be facilitated by the use of specific tools, enabling you to synthesize and visualize key information. Here are a few frequently used tools:

Assess competitors’ strengths and weaknesses

These analysis tools enable you to determine your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, and deepen your understanding of the competitive landscape. Use the following criteria for a comprehensive assessment:

This analysis will reveal your strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and risks to which your company may be exposed.

Beyond competitors, it’s essential to understand your market. Identify long-term trends affecting demand, supply, regulation and the environment. Also identify unmet needs, untapped niches, opportunities for innovation or potential partnerships for growth.

To uncover market trends and opportunities, leverage market research, industry reports, press articles, social media, influencers, customer feedback and rating tools for data analysis and surveys.

By identifying market trends and opportunities, you can anticipate changes, adapt your offers, innovate and stay ahead of the competition.

Step 4: Develop a competitive strategy

Once you’ve examined the data and identified the trends, it’s essential to develop a competitive strategy. This action plan is designed to differentiate you and give you a competitive edge. It involves effectively positioning your company in the market, establishing precise strategic actions and providing for regular monitoring and adjustment.

Positioning your company in the market

Positioning determines how your company distinguishes itself in the market through its offering, target clientele, image and value proposition. Successful positioning must be clear, consistent, credible and attractive to potential customers. To position your company properly, ask yourself the following questions:

By answering these questions, you’ll be able to define your positioning and integrate it into your communication strategies.

Define targeted strategic actions

Strategic actions are the means used to achieve your objectives and position your company. They cover different aspects of your business, such as product, price, distribution and communication. These actions must be targeted, i.e. adapted to your market segment, your competitive advantage and your budget. You can base your strategic actions on the 4Ps of the marketing mix:

By precisely defining your strategic actions, you’ll be ready to execute your action plan in the field.

Monitoring and iteration

An effective competitive strategy requires constant monitoring and adjustment to adapt to changes in the market, competition and customer needs. It is therefore essential to set up a monitoring, analysis and readjustment system to assess the performance of your strategy and make any necessary changes.

For effective monitoring, you can proceed as follows:

  1. Determine key performance indicators such as sales, market share and customer satisfaction;
  2. Collect and analyze data using scoring tools such as dashboards, surveys and statistics;
  3. Compare results with objectives, identify discrepancies and their causes;
  4. Make any necessary adjustments, modifying or intensifying your strategic actions in line with identified opportunities and threats.

By implementing a strategy of continuous monitoring and adjustment, you’ll optimize your competitive position and stay one step ahead of the competition.

Step 5: Implementation, monitoring and iteration

Once you’ve developed your competitive strategy, you need to put it into practice, monitor it closely and adapt it in line with results and market fluctuations. This involves sharing the strategy with your team, monitoring competitor reactions and market trends, and making any necessary changes to your strategy.

Communicating strategy to the team

Effective communication is essential to the successful implementation of your strategy. It’s important to involve your team in the realization of strategic objectives and initiatives, providing them with the resources, tools and support they need to succeed.

To convey the strategy to your team, consider the following options:

Implementing your strategy is a dynamic process. Remain vigilant to your competitors’ reactions to your actions, and to market trends likely to have an impact on your strategy. It is therefore essential to maintain a competitive and market watch to identify opportunities and threats.

To monitor competitor reactions and market trends, the following sources of information can be useful:

Implementing your strategy is a cycle of continuous improvement, not a straight line. It’s important to evaluate the results of your actions, compare them with the performance of your competitors, and adjust your strategy according to deviations, unforeseen events and the results obtained. To do this, set up a system for constantly evaluating and optimizing your strategy.

To readjust your strategy according to results and market trends, follow these steps:

By adjusting your strategy in line with results and market trends, you’ll optimize your competitive positioning and achieve your objectives more effectively.