Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What is competitor analysis?

Competitor analysis ('CA') is the in-depth study of one or more rivals (or potential rivals) to gather information on their structure, strategies, strengths, weaknesses and future directions. This information is then used to make informed decisions about everything from marketing to long term business strategies.
CA goes beyond the type of B2B research that most companies will already be engaged in to varying degrees, such as reading trade papers or obtaining rivals' sales literature - although the systematic gathering of information from published sources is an important element of it. It involves extracting and piecing together the inside information your competitors really don't want you to get your hands on. The most effective technique to achieve this is the skilful interviewing of people connected with the company concerned - without alerting them to your motives. It's a highly specialised discipline, and while increasing numbers of very large companies are employing their own in-house competitor analysis professionals, for the vast majority of businesses the most practical option is to use specialist agencies.