Zoom Out, Zoom In & Get the Complete Picture of Your Competitive Landscape
Before you can analyze your competitors, you have to know who they are. A competitor analysis template starts with identifying your competition (both by category and by name). This guide will walk you through two steps to single out your biggest competitors (plus, tips for how to develop a useful understanding of them).
- Zoom Out: During the brainstorming phase, I recommend considering the entire competitive landscape.
- Zoom In: At the research phase, you’ll want to narrow your focus to a meaningful set of competitive products and brands.
Competitor Analysis Template Example:
Polaroid Reinvigorates Analog Photography
To really drive home my photography analogy, let’s use the Polaroid camera as an example for this competitor analysis template. The first Polaroid instant photo was revealed to the world in 1947 (incidentally, the picture was a selfie of the inventor). This revolutionary tech allowed photography to reach the masses, by eliminating the need for darkroom expertise.
“Dubbed as ‘the Apple of its time’ by some, the company began to produce the now well-known instant cameras — also likened to having the latest iPhone at the time — and reached its popularity peak in the 1970s when it controlled almost two-thirds of the instant camera market in the United States.”
But by 2001, the company filed bankruptcy (and went bankrupt again in 2008). Competition with 35mm film cameras, then digital cameras took its toll. The product couldn’t dominate any longer. Until 2020! Under new ownership, the camera was re-named Polaroid Now and launched interest in a new category: analog instant photography. Today, there are several models in the Polaroid lineup, and the brand’s stated positioning is:
“For the imperfectionists. Introducing the Polaroid I-2 instant camera. Made for those who embrace chaos, beauty in the everyday, and the tactile pursuit of craft.”
Let’s explore how the Polaroid team found their competitive niche by zooming out, then zooming in to get the whole picture.
Competitor Analysis Template Step 1:
Zoom Out to Consider Product Categories
First, think broadly about all the different categories, industries and verticals your product competes in. Zoom out your focus to consider any and all possibilities. This will help you uncover new, promising opportunities.
For modern-day Polaroid, competitive categories include:
- Smart phone cameras: This is the ubiquitous competition. Everyone can enjoy instant photography with their phone. Quality and ease-of-use only get better with time.
- DSLR cameras: A top-quality digital camera is a must-have for amateur and professional photographers alike. These products require technical expertise to operate the camera, along with artistic training for impactful shots.
- Mirrorless cameras: Competitive with DSLR cameras, with a similar customer segmentation. Possibly will overtake DSLR in the future.
- Instant cameras: This is the original category that Polaroid popularized. Over the years, consumer applications include “first camera for kids,” “Instant ID cards” or “Crime scene documentation.”
- Disposable cameras: These film cameras are designed for one-use occasions, like wedding receptions.Their utility is to capture spontaneous, informal snapshots.
- Point-and-shoot cameras: Digital cameras that are easier to use and may offer a higher-quality image than smart phone cameras (this category is in decline).
Although your product can technically compete in dozens of different areas, now’s the time to start zooming in on top priorities. Select the key categories that will reach your most promising customer segments and move to step two.
Competitor Analysis Template Step 2:
Zoom In to Understand Specific Brands & Products
For Polaroid, there are three categories that matter: DSLR cameras, mirrorless cameras and instant cameras. The brand chose to compete with other instant camera brands to win the business of photography enthusiasts who wanted an instant camera to “play around with.” Polaroid developed an understanding of the DSLR and mirrorless consumers to create a product that would be the top competitor in instant cameras.
|Competitive Category||Brands||Example Products|
|DSLR Cameras & Mirrorless Cameras||Nikon |
|Nikon D6, D780, D850 |
Canon EOS 5D, EOS-1D, EOS 90D Sony α7 IV
LUMIX S5 II
|Instant Cameras||Fujifilm |
|Fujifilm Instax |
KODAK Mini Shot, Printomatic
Dylanto Instant Print Camera
You will complete the same steps for your brand’s specific competitive landscape. Notice how Polaroid needed to understand products that weren’t in direct competition with its product. No wedding photographer would ever trade in their Nikon D6 for a Polaroid camera. But, if the price is right, they would certainly supplement their camera inventory with an impressive instant camera.
Competitor Analysis Template Next Steps:
Steps one and two of my competitor analysis template will give you a clear picture of actual competitors. Next, it’s time to learn more about them. There are several useful parameters to gather intelligence on:
- Product features
- Marketing budget
- Customer segmentation
Not all parameters may apply to your brand. For Polaroid, the core parameter is customer segmentation. Only a professional photographer or amateur photography enthusiast would be interested in buying an instant camera as part of their collection. A casual photographer is happy with the instant gratification they get with smartphone photos and likely won’t invest in the purchase of an instant camera. Our colleague wrote about another relevant customer segmentation example in minimalist phones that also sheds light on the potential Polaroid customer.
To complement the customer segmentation, Polaroid identified possible features that could set its products apart from other instant cameras. These include manual controls, shooting modes, high-quality lenses, ability to add lens filters, rechargeable batteries and faster shutter speeds.
Competitor Analysis Template Helps Polaroid Release Pricey New Product to Critical Acclaim
On September 7, 2023, Polaroid released its I-2 camera, the first analog instant camera with built-in manual controls. It was a competitive home run, with reviewers from TechRadar, The Verge and PC Magazine all declaring it “awesome but expensive” (for photographers, those are the magic combination of words that make a product irresistible). Will this product be a big success for Polaroid, or will the niche prove too small to generate impressive sales? I suspect we will learn the answer after the upcoming holiday season.
Get inspired by Polaroid’s rise from the ashes. Who would have ever predicted that the instant camera could make a comeback? Your competitor analysis template will develop a complete picture of the landscape to help your brand surprise competitors and consumers alike.
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