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INVENTOR'S CHECKLIST
THE COMPETITOR

DO YOU KNOW YOUR DIRECT AND INDIRECT COMPETITION?

"THE COMPETITOR TO BE FEARED IS ONE WHO NEVER BOTHERS ABOUT YOU AT ALL, BUT GOES ON MAKING HIS OWN BUSINESS BETTER ALL THE TIME." - HENRY FORD

Many people when first asked answer that they have no competitors, as their definition of a competitor is a solution that is exactly the same as their idea (looks the same, and has the same features and functions). However your competitors can be any product, process or service that solves the same problem as your solution.

For example, a competitor of the new Lamborghini could be a luxury speed boat – as a customer buying either of these products would be potentially buying for the same reason- to purchase a luxury, leisure product that displays their wealth and status.

Being the person who has developed an idea from the beginning, it will likely have consumed a great deal of your time and thought process. As such, in common with pretty much everyone who develops an idea into a business, the competitive landscape is seen as if through the lens of your idea. In order to try to gain an objective assessment of the competitive landscape, it is important to take a step out of yourself, and look at the problem from your customer’s perspective.

YOU DON'T CHOOSE YOUR COMPETITORS, YOUR CUSTOMER DOES.

Assuming that you have identified the people who have the problem that your idea solves, and the problem is pressing enough to provoke them into action, they may consider different means by which to resolve that problem or they may consider the degree to which they need to resolve the problem. Each of these thought processes by the prospective customer is likely to identify different solutions they could implement, and irrespective of whether they are similar to your idea, if the potential customer thinks about them when deciding how to resolve the problem, they are competition for your idea.

For example, if you had developed a solution that combated the common problem of your bath curtain blowing in while you shower (known as ‘the shower curtain effect’), you may initially have identified that you had no competitors – as no other shower curtains successfully solves this problem. However information from your customers or through blogs/forums identified a number of competitive solutions (primarily DIY) that customers use to solve this problem – ranging from the use of weights and blue tack, to using heavier curtains and glass panels (instead of a curtain).

EXERCISE 1 - COMPETITOR MATRIX

Exercise Template (Download)

Your aim in undertaking this activity is to make sure that your solution is significantly better/faster/different than what is already out there.

Developing a competitor matrix allows you to compare the key features and functions of your idea against your competitors. Use the template provided as a starting point, which you can tailor and adapt.

a) Start by identifying your main competitors in the market.
b) Identify the main criteria (features, functions, benefits, etc.) that are important to your customers, and which may influence their buying decision. You will use these criteria to compare your idea against competitors’ offerings.

This should make up the criteria you’re comparing in your competitor matrix. For example:

  • What is your competitor’s price point?
  • What are their Unique Selling Points (USPs)?
  • What are their channels to market (how do they access their customer?)
c) Develop and populate a matrix capturing key information about your competitors.
d) Compare your idea against your competitors using the criteria identified. This comparison should help you to clearly identify the strengths and weaknesses of your idea compared to your competitors.