As a Product Manager, How Do You Best Analyze Competition In The Marketplace?

This is a very complicated question and the process can change drastically depending on the industry and the company, but I will attempt an answer geared towards the companies that I have been a part of.

The first analysis that always must be done is a standard GAP analysis.  Basically, lay out your product line, and those of all of your competitors, by price point.  Layer in all of the different features/benefits that the various models offer to see what companies offer what feature at which price points.  This will help you tell how there internal step-up features work.  For example, your company might use better lighting as a step-up feature, where your competitor might use a better motor as their key step-up feature.

Once you have completed your GAP analysis and made all relevant observations about how you and your competitors are using step-up options, you will want to go back and look at the past several GAPs that had been conducted previously (hopefully).  By looking at the last three years worth of GAPs, you can tell what a company is likely to do during their next launch.  For example, some companies migrate existing features down to lower price points with each new launch, while others might routinely come out with new features to add to current models and keep them at the same price point.  This is all valuable while you are building your next line, because if every competitor has x feature on their $99 model, and your X feature model starts at $119, you will likely lose most of the sales for customers where that particular feature is the most important buying factor.

Those are just the first two, of many, steps that I would suggest when thinking about your next model line.  As far as making time to do this research, you just have to find a way to do it.  Look at it this way, your job is to come up with a successful product line, and the only way that you can reasonably expect to do so is to know exactly what that product line has to look like from a feature/cost/price standpoint in order to be successful in the market place.  Many firms farm out the GAP analysis to younger associates or interrns, that way they have several different GAPs to look back on when they need it.  It is also a good way for younger employees or interns to quickly learn about the company’s products and competitors.  If you are not fortunate enough to have an intern, then suck it up and do the research yourself.  The number one way to come up with a killer product line is to develop an uncontrollable obsession with the competition, and be able to anticip[ate their next moves while fooling them with yours.  I hope that long-winded answer helps you out.  Good Luck out there!

Todd Hagopian

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About Todd Hagopian (@ToddHagopian)

Todd Hagopian received his BA from Eastern Michigan University with a major in Political Science. After graduation, he worked as a Financial Advisor and a Bank Manager before returning to school. He attended Michigan State University, where he completed an MBA with a double-major in Finance and Marketing. Todd is now a Senior Product Development Manager for a Fortune 500 company. He frequently writes about business issues, social media strategy, and political issues that he finds important. Enjoy the blog!

Posted on September 23, 2011, in Business Strategy and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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