Step 1: know the enemy and
Marketing is a fight for market share, market growth, increasing turnover and profits, and sometimes survival. To fight without knowing the enemy, the competition, is not very clever. That is why the road to understanding starts with the enemy, the competition.
Not knowing where the enemy is makes fighting very difficult. That is why defining the battlefield, the category, is a fundamental, first building block of the process to understand competition.
The two dimensions, competition and category, are interlinked, but for simplicity's sake they are treated separately below – although in the same chapter – and the purpose of this chapter is to provide some basic advice on the subject. Only a few key elements are covered as the subject matter is, or should be, part of any marketing textbook.
Who you are competing with defines to a large extent who you are, and where you are coming from. Trying to beat a defined set of brands influences the fighter's way of fighting, understanding of the universe and what to learn.
A competitive analysis does not require more special skills than a will to see the world from another angle than one's own: