Competitor Analysis case study shows how we increased certainty for a brand
Week by week, you will read true stories. Created from our Competitive Intelligence work. You’ll meet the clients and people using our insight. To build more and better business. What did they know, what did they want to know, what did they learn, and what would you do in a similar situation? This case study shows how we increased certainty for a brand. And it explains how easy it is to take competitors for granted.
We hope that this case study shows that our client acknowledged that they were uncertain about their competitor. But respected them enough to change that.
You know how
You know how you have a competitor with an excellent reputation? And annoyingly, they also provide great products. Luckily, they haven’t put much effort into your key markets. So, you are not too worried about them. Then the name of the business starts popping up. Your sales teams are complaining about them. And they have ramped up their efforts on your key accounts.
This situation was happening with one of our clients. Steeped in tradition and leaders in sustainability. With a track record of using Competitive Intelligence.
We met with the Global Marketing Director to determine what they needed to know and what they wanted to do. During the discussions, we defined what the problem was. And in turn, isolated six excellent questions. Going into a project with an instruction to find out everything you know is a silly idea. All you get is a lot of data. They already had lots of data in their analytics team.
Questions were determined
Once we determined the questions, we placed the whole process into a proposal. We agreed to a fixed fee, and the green light was given. As usual, we started by getting an understanding of the market. Here is a version of the agreed questions:
1. What are their plans for the future? How do they intend to grow and compete against our client?
2. What are their current levels of trade, and what is the sale breakdown of their two core products?
3. What is the sales split between the UK and Europe?
4. What are their competitive advantages and weaknesses?
5. Who are the key people within the organisation?
6. What is their view of our client as an organisation?
It’s common for people to ask for industry experience. As discussed last time, 90% of Competitive Intelligence is about Intelligence skills. Too much industry experience can blind you. Without external input, there’s a temptation to find out what you want to find out. Not what’s actually going on.
It allows us to get away with asking calculated and deliberately daft questions. We always find someone keen to fill in the gaps in our knowledge.
We developed an extensive investigation using primary research methods. We talked to people who could know the answer. This represented 50% of the data gathering. Most of it was talking face-to-face with target employees.
We defined the who, what, where and when, and the how of the competitor. We did this by getting out into the field.
Driving through a mid-Wales valley to a pretty country village. A lovely way to spend a sunny spring day. Coffee and a bacon sandwich from the village cafe. And onto the place we could call home for a couple of days. Then onto the quarry, factory and showroom complex. Sitting in the car, looking at the entrance and doing some truck spotting. An hour with the window down, counting them in and counting them out. The draft of dusty air and the growl of the engine drowned out the sounds of birdsong.
Noting where the vehicles were from and how many were leaving and entering the complex. Working out how long they were in the yard and many other things. We would do this another eight times over the next couple of days to find the averages. But, luckily our hotel was the local pub, and the plant did not operate a night shift.
We drove into the complex and parked in the staff car park. As we were not bothered by anyone, and we could see vehicles getting loaded. We could see what they were loading and how long it was taking them. We noticed there was a customer parking spot through the central area of the site. This allowed us to drive past open factory doors. And after taking a few wrong turns, managed to find the customer car park. We waited until some customers arrived. Then we got out of the car to stretch our legs and then took a walk to the product showroom.
We wandered around, looking at their products on display. We overheard conversations within the publically accessible areas. Some of which informed us of product limitations. One chat told us that they did not make a particular new product themselves. And another new product had a problem with a coating. All very different to what they were saying to buyers.
Back in the office, we analysed their recruitment strategy. and many other things. It became apparent that the target company had gone on a massive recruitment drive. New staff in our clients market. We noticed a spike of 35 new appointments over the last four months. All of which were senior sales and relationship-type positions. We also analysed the aspects of their needs, and this is what they got.
You may say that you would have noticed 35 new appointments. But people consistently don’t see. They are too busy getting on with their day job and creating new opportunities.
This is what they got
They got a useable Intelligence report which offered greater certainty. Options they may wish to do to tackle competitive opportunities and threats. They managed to gain a greater understanding by isolating these points:
- They were currently competing against them by price, innovation, quality standards and supply. However, the low prices would not (and could not) last forever.
- They quickly created local sales teams, business developers and specification teams. A highly experienced, credible sales team targets specific industry-sector sections.
- The new sales teams would do simple things well. Face-to-face visits, demonstrations, sponsoring local causes, and hands-on with branch-level staff.
- Current levels of trade were on target. To Around £66-67 million levels between Apr 20XX and April 20XX. They achieved revenues of £55m revenues April 20XX to April 20XX.
- 65% of all their trade originated from England, Wales and Scotland. The rest are from Europe.
- On average, the company sent out 700 truckloads of products every month.
- They are a quality-driven company. Not just words but actions.
- They were investing £8.5m into a new factory and would be ready Mid to late 2020.
- The competitors have a long-term, committed and loyal workforce.
- They were in a position of strength to provide serious competition to you.
- The competitor was a highly profitable and cash-rich organisation.
- Since the expansion of their sales teams, their prices have increased. And some of their stockists are seeing some resistance from their own customers.
- There were apparent gaps in the management structure.
- The company was heavily reliant on the Managing Director.
- They upped their game under the radar of their competitors.
The result was
The result was they now knew more about their main competitor and what they were going to do to compete with them. They improved their sales performance by ensuring they kept their current customers happy. But the knowledge of what they were up against. They were able to manage their competitor’s strengths and exploit their weaknesses. Counter the new opportunities the competitor thought they had. The competitor took the business from other competitors and less from our client. As a result, the quality of service and the end product were improved within the industry. A client kept on its toes and a quality competitor under control.
Competitor Analysis case study showing how we increased certainty for a brand
This article showed how we increased certainty for a brand.
This article is another example of how our insight created more and better business. What did they know, what did they want to know, what did they learn, and when would you do in a similar situation? We hope this brand certainty case study shows once again the power of Competitive Intelligence.
Do you have any competitors you acknowledge to be uncertain about? But respect them enough to change that?
*Confidentiality means names, locations, and numbers have been changed