In this lesson, we will look at the definition of competitive landscape. We will then discuss the process and apply competitive landscape to a real-life example.
What Is a Competitive Landscape?
There you are, a senior in high school playing for the Bulldogs in the 'big game.' You are nervous and excited, and as you step out on the field you hear the crowd cheer. The time has now come for you to show off all your hard work; what the crowd may not realize, however, is all of the planning and analysis of the opponent that happened prior to the game. Much like the Bulldogs, businesses are also planning and conducting analyses of the competition. This is known as competitive landscape analysis and can be defined as identifying and understanding the competition.
To better understand the definition, let's break the process down into a few steps.
- Identify the competition. Who is the business competing with? This can be done by researching websites, reports, and through other media.
- Understand the competition. Why are they competitors? How big is their presence in the market? Once the competitors have been identified, you can again use the internet, newspapers, social media, and various other reports to understand what impact your competitors have on the market.
- Determine the strengths of the competition. What are the strategies of the competitors? What do other companies do well? Do they offer great products? Do they utilize marketing in a way that reaches out to more consumers than other companies? Why do customers give them their business?
- Determine the weaknesses of the competition. Where are they trying to grow as a company? Finding out weaknesses (and strengths) can be as easy as going through consumer reports and reviews. After all, consumers are often willing to give their opinions, especially when the products or services are either great or very poor.
- Put all of the information together. What will the business do with this information? What improvements do they need to make? In order to maintain or gain consumer support and business, companies need to make sure they are meeting their consumers' needs while remaining profitable.
Now let's put this process into action with the following scenario:
Bob's Auto is currently the top selling auto parts store in the town of Wilcott. However, obtaining that honor took more than just selling a bunch of auto parts; it took a lot of work behind the scenes. You see, prior to becoming a top selling company, the business team went through a process known as competitive landscape analysis.
- Bob's Auto had to identify its rival, or competitor, which was an auto store by the name of Larry's Car Parts.
- Next, Bob's Auto had to understand the competition. Larry's Car Parts had been in business for ten years and specializes in parts for small compact cars. It also won the title of top selling auto parts store the past three years.
- The next step involved analyzing the competition's strengths. Larry's Car Parts carries the largest selection of small compact car parts in the region. Many people from all over the state travel to Larry's to find parts for their cars that other places do not carry.
- After figuring out the strengths, Bob's Auto had to identify the weaknesses of the competitor. Larry's does not carry very many parts for large pickups and SUVs.
- Lastly, now that Bob's Auto knows who the competitor is, why it poses a threat, and its strengths and weaknesses, Bob's Auto needed to figure out what to do with all of this information. It was found that Bob's Auto already had a large supply of parts for larger vehicles, but that it needed to carry a larger supply of parts for small compact cars, including parts that Larry's did not sell. Bob's Auto also ran a state-wide advertisement about its selection of products. This allowed Bob's Auto to attract some of Larry's customers and gain higher profits.
Let's review. Competitive landscape analysis is identifying and understanding the competition. In order to stay viable and profitable, businesses need to constantly stay on top of what their competitors are doing. This process can be carried out in five steps:
- Identify the competition
- Understand the competition
- Determine the strengths of the competition
- Determine the weaknesses of the competition
- Put all of this information together