We continue Disruptor Week with Part 2 of Competitive Research Strategies brought to you by the 3Q Strategy team.  This two-part series investigates tactics you can use to stand out in your crowded marketplace. Yesterday’s post walked through the first tactic: product differentiation. We dive into the following two tactics below: 

Part 2: Customer Sentiment

Now that we have an outline on how to win on a product level, customer sentiment analysis can be used to discover how successful your competitors are at fulfilling their value propositions.

For an example of how sentiment can vary regardless of product attributes, let’s look at orange juice:

Photo credit: https://thekrazycouponlady.com/tips/couponing/5-surprising-generic-foods-that-taste-as-good-as-name-brand

A customer is deciding between two brands of orange juice on the grocery store shelf. Both are priced the same and contain an orange, citrusy, sweet beverage, not from concentrate, and without pulp.

Now, is there any physical difference between these two juices? Not on paper. Do customers feel one brand is better? You betcha. Our goal with sentiment analysis is to discover why customers feel one brand is better, and use that to our advantage in our messaging strategy.

How it works

To develop an understanding of customer sentiment for you and your competitors, visit the top online conversation sources for your industry and collect the most recent reviews. Examples of places to start are:

  • Accredited third-party review sites such as bestreviews.com, Consumer Reports, or Trustpilot.
  • Industry blogs, awards networks, or magazine articles
  • Macro/Micro product influencers
  • Customer platforms! Check out Facebook, Yelp, or Amazon for what real customers have to say.

After collecting the reviews, analyze your findings by looking for recurring themes in the data to determine the strengths and the weakness of each competitor.

Part 3: Competitive Messaging Analysis

Messaging analysis is used to identify competitive value propositions. Just as with product analysis, build your own robust value proposition using a comparable or unique value messaging strategy.

To get started, look at every place a competitor talks about their products, such as:

  • Search and display advertisements
  • Facebook / Instagram posts
  • YouTube videos
  • Organic search listings
  • Website pages including: paid, organic, product, and home pages

After recording all of these these data points, break down the core values of competitors’ messaging using a consistent framework such as Bain & Company’s Consumer Value Hierarchy. This Value Hierarchy draws inspiration from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and aligns brand value propositions along functional, emotional, life-changing, and social impact tiers.

Photo Credit: http://www.bain.com/bainweb/media/interactive/elements-of-value/#

When utilizing this framework as a tool for analyzing brand positioning, try answering these questions:

  1. Are there values your product provides that you aren’t currently speaking to?
  2. Are your competitors messaging against values that you should be, too?
  3. Are your competitors failing to message against important values related to your product?
  4. Are you communicating the values that customers actually care about?

Just as seen with previous analysis into product and sentiment findings, the answers to these questions will shed light on new messaging strategies that can help you get a “leg up” on your competition or add new flavor to your creative stalemate.

In Closing

By looking at the differences that exist among products, sentiment, and messaging, any company can build a winning competitive strategy.

And remember – when implementing your newfound strategy ideas, be sure to utilize testing best practices so you can track the results of your hard-won effort!

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Ardith Alexander
Ardith joined the 3Q Strategy team in March of 2018 with a background in web development, graphic design, and E-commerce management. She attended the beautiful San Diego State University, where she acquired an undergraduate degree in Marketing and Art. In her free time, Ardith enjoys collecting houseplants, hanging out with her cat, and reading science fiction.