How To Research and Write A Competitive Analysis For Your Business

Learn about the process of writing an effective competitive analysis, the essential tools, various types of analysis, advantages, providing relevant examples and templates.

A comprehensive competitive analysis is an integral component of a well-crafted business plan. It provides valuable insights into the competitive landscape, helps identify opportunities, and enables businesses to develop effective strategies.

What is Competitive Analysis?

A competitive analysis assesses the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, identifies market trends, and analyzes customer preferences. By conducting a thorough analysis, you gain a deeper understanding of your industry, target market, and competitive positioning.

Essential Tools for Competitive Analysis

When conducting a competitive analysis, several tools can assist you in your research of gathering data, analyzing information, and gaining valuable insights. Here are some essential tools commonly used for competitive analysis:

a. SWOT Analysis: This framework examines the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your business in relation to competitors. It helps identify areas where your business has a competitive advantage or needs improvement.


Swot analysis

b. Porter's Five Forces Analysis: Developed by Michael Porter, this model evaluates the industry's competitive dynamics. It analyzes the bargaining power of suppliers and buyers, the threat of new entrants, the threat of substitutes, and the intensity of competitive rivalry.


Porter's Five Forces Analysis

c. Market Research: Utilize qualitative and quantitative research techniques to gather information about your target market, customer preferences, and competitors. Surveys, focus groups, and interviews can provide valuable insights.

d. Online Tools: Several online tools aid in competitor analysis, such as SEMrush, Moz, and SimilarWeb. These tools provide data on competitor website traffic, keyword rankings, backlinks, and social media presence.

Types of Competitive Analysis

It’s important to consider various types of analysis to gain a comprehensive understanding of your competitors and industry. Here are some common types of competitive analysis:

1. Direct Competitor Analysis

This type of analysis focuses on evaluating businesses that offer similar products or services to the same target market as your own. Key areas of assessment include:

- Product or Service Comparison: Compare features, quality, pricing, packaging, and warranties of your offerings against those of your direct competitors.

- Market Share Analysis: Evaluate your market share compared to your competitors to understand your relative position in the industry.

- Pricing Analysis: Analyze your pricing strategy in relation to your competitors' pricing models and pricing levels.

- Marketing and Communication Analysis: Examine your competitors' marketing campaigns, messaging, advertising channels, and branding strategies to identify areas of differentiation.

- Customer Analysis: Understand your competitors' customer base, target audience, customer satisfaction levels, and loyalty programs to identify potential gaps and opportunities.

2. Indirect Competitor Analysis

Indirect competitors are businesses that may not offer the exact same products or services as yours but cater to the same customer needs or provide substitute solutions. Key areas of analysis include:

- Substitute Products or Services: Identify businesses that offer alternative solutions to fulfill the same customer needs. Assess the benefits and drawbacks of these alternatives compared to your own offerings.

- Competitive Advantage Analysis: Determine the unique selling propositions (USPs) and competitive advantages of your indirect competitors to understand their appeal to customers.

- Differentiation Opportunities: Identify areas where your offerings can differentiate themselves from indirect competitors by highlighting unique features, benefits, or value propositions.

3. SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis evaluates your own business as well as your competitors, focusing on the internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats. This analysis helps identify areas for improvement, areas where you have a competitive advantage, and potential market opportunities.

4. Industry Analysis

An industry analysis examines the overall industry landscape, market trends, and competitive dynamics. Key areas to consider include:

- Market Size and Growth: Understand the current market size, growth rate, and potential future trends.

- Industry Structure: Evaluate the number of competitors, market concentration, and barriers to entry.

- Regulatory Factors: Assess the impact of industry-specific regulations and compliance requirements on your business and competitors.

- Technological Advancements: Identify technological innovations and trends that may disrupt or impact the industry.

- Economic Factors: Analyze economic conditions, such as GDP growth, inflation rates, and consumer spending patterns, that influence the industry.

5. Comparative Analysis:

A comparative analysis involves benchmarking your business against competitors on various performance metrics and key success factors. Areas of analysis include:

- Financial Performance: Compare financial metrics, such as revenue, profitability, return on investment, and growth rates, to assess your business's financial standing in relation to competitors.

- Operational Efficiency: Evaluate operational processes, supply chain management, and cost structures to identify areas of improvement and potential cost advantages.

- Human Resources: Analyze talent acquisition, employee training, organizational structure, and company culture to assess your competitive advantage in attracting and retaining skilled employees.

By employing any of these different types of competitive analysis, you can gain a comprehensive view of your competitors, industry landscape, and your own business's strengths and weaknesses

Steps to Writing a Complete Competitive Analysis

Here are processes involved in writing a complete competitive analysis for your business plan, covering the key steps and considerations.

Step 1: Define the Purpose and Scope of Your Analysis

Before you start writing you competitive analysis, clearly define its purpose and scope. Ask yourself: What specific information are you seeking? Are you targeting direct competitors, indirect competitors, or both? Do you want to assess the overall industry landscape? Defining these parameters will help focus your research efforts.

Step 2: Identify and Research Competitors

Start by identifying your primary competitors—those businesses offering similar products or services to your target market. Additionally, consider indirect competitors, who may offer substitute solutions or cater to the same customer needs using different approaches. Compile a comprehensive list of these competitors.

Once you have the list, conduct thorough research on each competitor. Explore their websites, product catalogs, marketing materials, and social media presence. Take note of their product features, pricing strategies, target audience, distribution channels, and overall brand positioning. Also, seek customer feedback and reviews to understand their strengths and weaknesses.

Step 3: Analyze Strengths and Weaknesses

Compare and contrast your business with each competitor to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Look for areas where your offerings outshine theirs and vice versa. Focus on key factors such as product quality, pricing, customer service, marketing efforts, brand reputation, and unique selling propositions. This analysis will help you pinpoint your competitive advantages and areas where you need to improve.

Step 4: Assess Market Opportunities and Threats

In addition to evaluating competitors, analyze the broader market landscape. Identify emerging trends, changes in consumer preferences, and market opportunities that may impact your business. Look for gaps in the market that your competitors have not yet tapped into. Also, consider potential threats, such as new entrants or disruptive technologies, that could challenge your market position.

Step 5: Conduct SWOT Analysis

One effective tool for competitive analysis is the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis. Perform a comprehensive SWOT analysis for your business and each of your key competitors. This analysis will provide a holistic view of your internal strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats. By comparing your SWOT analysis with your competitors', you can identify areas where you can gain a competitive edge.

Step 6: Determine Competitive Positioning

Based on the insights gathered from the previous steps, determine your competitive positioning. Define how your business stands out from competitors and clearly articulate your unique value proposition. Highlight the aspects that differentiate you in terms of product features, pricing, customer experience, or any other factors that set you apart. This positioning will form the foundation of your marketing and business strategies.

Step 7: Develop Strategies and Action Plans

Now that you have a deep understanding of your competitive landscape and your own positioning, it's time to develop strategies and action plans. Based on your analysis, identify specific steps you can take to leverage your strengths, mitigate weaknesses, and seize market opportunities. Consider areas such as product development, pricing adjustments, marketing campaigns, customer acquisition, and improving operational efficiency. Lay out a clear roadmap for implementing these strategies.

Step 8: Continuously Monitor and Update Your Analysis

Competitive landscapes evolve over time, so it's crucial to continuously monitor and update your competitive analysis. Keep an eye on market trends, emerging competitors, and changes in customer preferences. Regularly reassess your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to ensure your business remains competitive. Adjust your strategies and action plans accordingly.

Benefits of conducting a competitive analysis

Competitive analysis provides several key benefits for businesses. Here are ten advantages of conducting a comprehensive analysis of your competition.

Competitive Analysis Advantage

1. It helps you identify and understand your direct and indirect competitors. This knowledge allows you to benchmark your business against industry peers and stay informed about your competitive landscape.

2. Analyzing your competitors' positioning helps you determine your own market position. By assessing their strengths and weaknesses, you can identify gaps in the market that your business can exploit to gain a competitive advantage.

3. It reveals market opportunities that your competitors may have overlooked. It helps you identify emerging trends, unmet customer needs, and untapped market segments, allowing you to develop strategies to capitalize on these opportunities.

4. With insights from competitive analysis, you can make more informed strategic decisions. It helps you assess the potential risks and rewards of various strategies, enabling you to allocate resources effectively and prioritize initiatives.

5. It helps you identify areas for product or service improvement. By understanding their features, pricing, and customer feedback, you can develop innovative solutions that meet customer demands more effectively.

6. It enables you to evaluate your competitors' pricing strategies. By comparing prices, you can determine whether your prices are competitive or if adjustments are necessary. It also helps you understand the value proposition your pricing should communicate to customers.

7. It helps you benchmark your marketing strategies. It provides insights into their messaging, promotional tactics, target audience, and channels. You can identify gaps in their marketing approach and develop unique, compelling campaigns to differentiate your business.

8. Studying your competitors' customer base and feedback provides valuable insights into consumer preferences, expectations, and pain points. Understanding their strengths and weaknesses helps you tailor your offerings and improve customer satisfaction.

9. It helps you identify potential threats and challenges in your industry. By assessing competitors' strategies, market dynamics, and emerging trends, you can proactively mitigate risks and develop contingency plans.

10. It is an ongoing process that fosters a culture of continuous improvement within your business. By regularly monitoring your competitors and industry trends, you can adapt your strategies, refine your offerings, and stay ahead of the curve.

Examples of Competitive Analysis

a. Company A: Analyze the pricing strategy, target market, and marketing channels of Company A. Identify their strengths and weaknesses in comparison to your own business, and determine strategies to differentiate your offerings.

b. Industry Analysis: Conduct a comprehensive analysis of the e-commerce industry. Identify key players, their market share, competitive advantages, and emerging trends. Determine how your business can carve a niche and stand out.

c. SWOT Analysis: Perform a SWOT analysis comparing your business to a direct competitor. Highlight their strengths and weaknesses, and assess how your business can leverage its strengths to gain a competitive edge.


It’s important to know that when writing a complete competitive analysis for your business plan is vital for understanding your industry, identifying opportunities, and formulating effective strategies. A detailed competitive analysis offers numerous benefits that are crucial for business success. It empowers you to make informed decisions, uncover opportunities, differentiate your offerings, and respond effectively to market changes. By investing time and effort in understanding your competitors, you position your business for growth and long-term profitability. By utilizing the essential tools and conducting various types of analysis, you can gain valuable insights into your competitors and make informed business   

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