Fear? Not If You Use Competitive Intelligence The Right Way!

Holding your ground in today’s business environment can be scary. The competition is huge, the technology is advancing and consumers are becoming more savvy and demanding. This all forms a highly competitive market whereas competitive advantage can be as easily lost as it was gained. Businesses “live” in a world where information is widely available than ever before. Each day, there are massive amounts of data generated that just waits for it to be gathered, analyzed and used for best purposes. However, it often just floats around, which brings us to the word of the day (actually, two words): competitive intelligence.

In essence, competitive intelligence (CI) is understanding and learning about your products, customers, and competition, as well as every other facet of business in order to make strategic decisions based on knowledgeable insights. It a learning curve about everything that affects one business, from the tiniest details to global-like situations so it stands to reason there may be instances where CI is not used to the best of its abilities.

Theoretically, that’s all fine and dandy, but as we favor a direct and practical approach, here’s what competitive intelligence can do for your business.

1. Focus on what you want to know

Finding out everything about every competitor in the marketplace is a good idea, but not particularly effective if you want quick results in today’s fast-paced business environment. A better choice is to focus on a few specific business segments or problems whose understanding and addressing is key to company’s success. That way, the aim of your intelligence operation will be to collect information to help resolve the matter that matters to you the most. If that requires monitoring large companies for openings in the market, so be it, but try not to dilute your efforts too much. Collecting information for key strategic decisions and identifying new competitive threats is usually an ongoing, day-to-day operation in which you always need to have your goal in sight.

2. It’s not solely about your competition

We know what you are going to say – it’s precisely called competitive intelligence, not business intelligence or market intelligence or whatever adjective you want, therefore, it must be all about competition. Still, CI is a multi-layered business discipline that branches out like a tree from the earth. The focus of competitive intelligence in not on your rivals alone, it’s on the market as a whole and everything that makes it a highly competitive battleground.

 

demand for information

Source: B2B International

Failing to recognize the full value of competitive intelligence leads away from greater strategic flexibility. Using CI, a business can quickly adapt to market fluctuations and, if necessary, change its business strategy. For an example, we’ll use Pratt and Whitney, an aerospace manufacturer whose commercial engine division utilized CI by looking at all market aspects in an effort to stay competitive against its rivals, especially GE and Rolls Royce. As a result, the company deployed a highly successful breakthrough agenda for their new Geared Turbofan (GTF) engine, which wouldn’t be possible it P&W looked at each competitor separately.

Let’s get into specific details about what CI enables:

3. Perform win/loss analysis

A win/loss analysis requires surveying two groups of people

  • new customers
  • prospects attracted by competition

Why? You want to unfold and understand the reasons for their actions. During these interviews, it would be highly beneficial to ask your customers the motives for looking for your product and the reasons why they chose (or didn’t choose) your company, if they went with a competitor’s offering. Gaining insight from these simple, yet valuable questions will provide you with an understanding of your product among customers, competition’s selling points over your product, as well as what features are necessary to change or implement.

In 2015, Nestlé’s popular Maggi noodles had to be recalled from India due to containing a whopping seven times more lead (no big deal) that allowed. Up to that point, Maggi’s sales accounted for a quarter of Nestlé’s $1.6 billion sales in India, with the food giant having a 63 percent market share. The subsequent five-month ban of Maggi cost Nestle $277 million in sales with a half a billion dollars of damages to the brand name. However, Baba Ramdev, a famous local yoga guru and an owner of the growing local consumer goods company in India, launched a competing product (Patanjali noodles) to a great success. The key was catering to what people wanted to the product was marketed as a healthier option than Nestlé’s, while also having a lower price to incentivize sales.

4. Use competitive intelligence tools

CI presents a vast field of data that takes a considerable amount of time to sort out into actionable insights if you do it manually. Time matters greatly in today’s business operations which is why there are competitive intelligence tools that automate the process and provide real-time results. Therefore, a company should opt for a software solution that provides data about both your competitors and market, all the while keeping your budget in place and minimizing risk. What these tools offer are

 

  • Competitive market and competitor data (product tracking, industry trends, etc.);
  • Real-time intelligence;
  • Market gap minimization;
  • Predictive “what if” scenarios;
  • Time-saving through minimal human intervention;
  • Recommendations and more.

CI could also present you with potential problems regarding your sales approach, which you should discuss and coordinate with your sales team to correct.

Conclusion

Competitive intelligence, at its core, means learning as much and as quickly as possible about one’s industry in general, competition and market in order to be able to anticipate and face numerous challenges head on. In order to use competitive intelligence the right way, businesses must use it for insight management, not as a tool to search and distribute information. It allows a direct access to input into company’s strategic plans, smartly tapping a vast amount of external data to remain competitive.

CI has the power to be a facilitator of strategic advancement and change. Optimally, it will breed an organizational culture that relies on modern tools that provide real-time intelligence to deal with real-time challenges of ambiguity and prevailing competitors. It’s not enough to gather data and employ it, but rather to use it the right way as shown in this post.

3 Competitive Pricing Secrets You Never Knew

As pricing goes, competitive pricing is one of four major ways (the other three being cost-based, value-based and demand-based) how businesses set and develop their pricing policy. Basically, with respect to competitors, a company sets its pricing based on either lower, higher or roughly the same as it’s competition. Competition can be either direct or indirect. Direct competition happens when a company produces similar products that cater to the same group of consumers. Indirect competition exists when different companies make or sell items which, although not in head-to-head competition, still compete for the same share of the customers’ pockets.

A competitive pricing method is quick to implement as it doesn’t require as much in-depth market research as some other pricing methods like demand-based or value-based pricing. Instead, its foundation lies in the prices companies that sell similar products set. This way, a company can rapidly attract and influence customers because there is already a potential pre-established customer base. However, a competitive pricing policy has its own advantages and disadvantages that companies looking to implement should be aware of. In this post, we’ll show you three competitive pricing secrets that can help you boost your business.

1. Underpricing can harm you in the long run

A common occurrence in the e-commerce world is that companies often turn to underpricing their goods believing lower prices or being the least expensive solution will drive sales volume. While the theoretical basis is sound, the practical part carries two big downsides.

  • Pricing your products lower than your competition takes a toll on your bottom line. Sure, lower income is better than no income but you are needlessly leaving money on the table and seriously thinning and decreasing your profit margins.
  • You lose any form of brand recognition, at least the good one. Being too cheap might signal customers your product is shady and possibly of questionable quality, ultimately steering them away to your competition.

Underpricing is typically a result of lack of knowledgeable insights. It’s essential to avoid crossing the line between providing competitive pricing and underpricing. Pricing intelligence tools assert themselves as the logical solution in this case, as they will provide data driven insights to help a business stay competitive without underpricing.

2. Lower your prices the right way

Continuing the subject of lower prices, here is another thing that you might not know. Chances are, there is a group within your target audience that perceives your pricing a bit expensive. This might pose a dilemma – to cater to them by lowering your prices or not?

Consider resorting to alternative measures such as offering buyer benefits in order to be more appealing. For instance, you can offer brand club membership with exclusive coupons and discounts. The essence of this method is that you are not lowering your price in general but offering special prices to specifically targeted customers at specific times.

Lower your prices

Source: Harvard Business Review

Another way to achieve this is by offering less product or service for the same price. Taking into account your customers, product proportions and sizes and order sizes can effectively reduce your costs and produce a desired result without reducing the value to your customer base.

Fairly recently, the maker of Toblerone, popular Swiss chocolate, changed the overall look of it and reduced the overall amount of chocolate from the 170-gram and 400-gram milk chocolate bars (about six ounces and 14 ounces) to 150 grams and 360 grams in order to reduce cost because the necessary ingredients achieved higher prices. The company said the effect of the changes was less noticeable, thus continuing the established practice of companies trying to avoid price increases by reducing the contents of their product. Most consumers are not aware of the alteration because the product usually looks the same and has the same price, the only difference there is a tad less of it.

The same can be done with other aspects of your product like shipping. Instead of offering a two-day delivery, a business can switch to three-day deliveries, saving enough money to keep the existing price without decreasing its margins.

3. Reframe your product

This is an effective method that provides lots of breathing space for experimenting what works and attracts customers and what repels them. You will often find the term “psychological pricing” (also known as odd-even pricing) accompanied with the example of charging $9.99 for your product instead of $10.00. This way customers feel they are getting a fair, lowest or best possible price.

Simply switching up the product description can play a large role in selling your product. For instance:

  • Selling something that costs “$10 per month” rolls better of the customer’s tongue than “$120 per year”, even if those price points are exactly the same in the end.
  • Changing a $4 shipping fee to “only a $4 shipping fee” or “a small $4 shipping fee” could increase the response rate among those hesitant to commit to a purchase.
  • Another way to reframe your product is to provide a “free shipping” benefit with the actual shipping costs included in the product cost.

Conclusion

Balancing competitive pricing with profit margins can be a difficult task without proper tools (and secrets) of the trade. It’s important to understand what can propel you in the business environment, as well as hurt you in the long run. The most valuable pricing methods consist of constant planning and management, as well as competitive price intelligence, which ultimately points to pricing software. It joins big data with historical information to help retailers set the prices of their products in accurate and timely fashion.

Having in-depth knowledge of your market and target audience is vital. Lowering your pricing can certainly be a tempting proposal, but it can also cost you money if you lower it too much. Also important is knowing how you can appeal to customer’s price consciousness by reframing your price to appeal even to those hardened buyers. Keeping the competition factor provides a fast way of scoping the market and setting prices accordingly. By utilizing these little secrets, you will avoid the pitfalls of competitive pricing and turn them to your advantage.

Competitive Pricing Strategy – See How Products Are Priced

Effective pricing is essential for a business. That’s the only way they’d know at what price they should offer a product, while maintaining a good profit margin and keeping up with the competition. A business can pick from a variety of pricing strategies and the selection depends on different factors.

A business can set a price to maximise profitability on each unit sold or on the overall market share. It can set a price to stop competitors from entering the market, or to increase its market share, or simply to stay in the market.

Pricing is one of the most important components when it comes to creating marketing strategies. The price is one of the first things that a consumer notices about a product and is one of the deciding factors when it comes to their decision to buy it or not.

Needless to say, the competition in the market is on a constant rise, especially with the ever growing popularity of online shopping. This means that businesses need to keep an eye on their competitors’ behaviour while setting prices in order to get the much needed competitive edge in the market. Comparing prices online is easy and customers are well aware about the monetary value of a product. These factors are also important considerations while setting the price for a product or service.

Among the various models of pricing, competitive pricing is one that has caught the fancy of many businesses. Having a monopoly is one thing—you can set the price the way you want (of course there are few government norms) but setting pricing strategies based on competitors’ behaviour isn’t an easy task.

Here’s an insight to competitive pricing theory, used by most companies around the world.

What Is Competitive Pricing Strategy?

When a product is priced in accordance with what the competition is charging, it’s known as competitive pricing. It is one of the four major pricing strategies adopted by most companies. The other three include, cost-plus strategy, where a prefixed profit margin is added over the total cost of the product, demand pricing, under which the price is set by establishing the optimal relationship between volume and price, and markup pricing, where a percentage is added (as profit) over the wholesale price of the product.

When it comes to competition based pricing strategy, the purchasing behaviour of customers is an important criteria. Some of the factors that companies take into account are costs, competition, and price sensitivity. In order to ensure profitable sustenance of the business, managers have to set the price such that it covers the production cost, company overheads costs, and also offers suitable profits.

In order to establish the right competitive price for your product, you need to take into account the product life cycle and the stage your product is in. Competition is one factor that you can ignore if your product is in the developmental stage. However, if it’s a part of the market, and fighting with a relatively high number of substitutes and competitors, then considering the actions of your competitors might be one factor driving your profit. You have three choices—price your product lower, higher, or same as your competitor. The most common tactic is to set the price according to the competitors, also known as competitive pricing strategy.

As already mentioned, there are three things that you can do in order to set the right price for your products:

1. If you’re planning to set the price above the price of your competitor, then you’d need to bring in new features and improvements in your product that would justify the increased price.
2. Pricing below your competitor’s price depends on your resources. If you can increase the volume without affecting the production cost to a great extent, then this might be a good strategy for you. However, there’s the risk of diminishing profit margin and you might not be able to recover your sunk cost and even face bankruptcy. So, it’s really important that you evaluate each step of your competitor while establishing the price for your product.
3. When you set a price equivalent to your competitor, then the differentiating factors cease to exist. The focus shifts to the product itself, and if you can offer more (and better) features at the same time, it’s a win-win for you, and your competitors will fall behind.

So, competitive pricing is a game to play. Competitive pricing intelligence demands that you have in-depth knowledge of your market and target audience.

A lot of effort goes into the process of establishing the price based on competition. According to a recent survey, minor variations in prices can lower or raise profit margins by more than 20-25%. Competitive price analysis is essential to competitive pricing strategies. Let’s look at some competitive pricing examples, to get a better understanding of this process.

Competitive Pricing Examples

The concept of competitive pricing is best understood when there are only two competing parties. Suppose, two companies manufacture detergent for washing clothes. Both will charge the same price and if one company wants to compete with the other, will advertise saying why it’s product is better.

Even big corporate giants sometimes resort to competitive pricing strategy when they want to enter a new market. They have to set the price almost equivalent to their competitor, even if the production cost is high. In case the production cost is higher, they’d have to play around and adjust prices of packaging, advertising, and distribution.

Some companies have to use competitor based pricing, as often price is the only factor customers consider while buying a product and the switching cost for buying a product from two different stores is very low. However, in many cases like software, competitor’s behaviour or data shouldn’t be the central factor for determining prices. There are numerous other variables that need to be considered in this case.

While keeping the competition factor is important while setting prices, it shouldn’t be made the central pillar.

Retail pricing ebook CTA

How to Advertise to Your Competition’s Customers When They’re Out of Stock

The more successful you are in business, the more cutthroat the competition becomes. That’s simply the reality that your company must face, regardless of your industry. Strategy is key to maintaining an edge over other companies within your niche, and advertising oftentimes plays an integral role in establishing the mission and reputation of your business. Even with that fierce pursuit of customers, you must adhere to certain rules when it comes to promoting your products and/or services to prospects. This does not, however, preclude you from employing the latest technology to stay abreast of what your competitors may be up to.

Keep Your Enemies Closer

As the saying goes, wise individuals know that it’s best to keep their adversaries under a watchful eye. Such is the case in today’s professional landscape. However, now this principle takes the form of sophisticated monitoring systems you can use to assess your competitors’ prices, behavior and activity. When employed effectively, this approach can even clue you into when your competition is running low on a particular product, and once that inventory finally hits zero, that’s a prime opportunity for you to pump up your efforts to win over some of their prospective customers.

Try These Tactics

Finding new and innovative ways to reach out to prospects should be a constant focus of your business. After all, the best way to expand your company is to establish an ongoing relationship with the very individuals whose patronage you desire. Yet, here are some smart ways to cut into your competitors’ customer base that just may pay off, especially when they are out of stock on a particular product.

 

  • Analyze social media networks: The emergence of social media has made it easier than ever for companies to connect directly with customers. However, it also allows you to check in on your competition and target their customer base. For the purposes of poaching their business, consider digging into Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections and Facebook likes. In particular, you can also pinpoint the demographic you want by investing in Facebook ads.

 

  • Play the Google game: When it comes to the online space, few companies are as omnipresent as Google. As such, the company offers several different venues you can use to target your competition. From honing in on keyword brand terms on Gmail ads to focusing on a predefined audience with the custom affinity audience feature, Google is a key tool you should be using to its full capability to build your customer base.

 

  • Engage in content marketing: If a customer is all set to make a purchase and then finds that product is “out of stock,” the most likely alternative they’ll turn to will be one they trust and/or are familiar with. That’s why content marketing could be such a useful tool in reaching out to your competitors’ prospects. Though not a form of advertising per se, content marketing builds trust with consumers and allows you to emerge as an easy favorite for subsequent online searches customers will engage in to find a suitable replacement for the product they elsewhere found out of stock. Fill the market with blog posts and other content which allows you to highlight your products and stay top of mind for potential customers.

 

  • Kick up your YouTube presence: One of the most prominent trends right now is a gradual leaning towards video content. Targeting customers via your company’s YouTube presence is a clever move to stay in line with your competition. The site allows advertisers to run brief ads before other videos, and this may present a unique opportunity for you to go after competitor content directly. There may be no better way to keep your prospects in the know about everything your product has to offer.

The Right Moment to Strike

Customers may fret when they see that a product they’re interested in is “out of stock,” but the value that this has for your business cannot be underestimated. Consider it a second chance to win back a consumer who was dangerously close to opting for your competition. Such opportunities can be identified and acted on when you have the right strategies in place to facilitate this realization, but remaining top-of-mind with your potential customers helps to ease them into a purchase when that critical moment comes wherein a competitor has depleted their inventory. Remember that remaining persistent and vigilant is half the battle when it comes to fostering growth.

For more details about how you should approach pricing and foster your customer base, check out our new eBook, “A Comprehensive Guide to Competitive Online Retail Pricing Strategies.”

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Capture More Retail Customers with Automated Price Monitoring

Ask any consumer what rationale guides their decision-making when it comes to retail purchases, and pricing will almost certainly emerge as one of the most prominent considerations. Because of this, business owners understand that the strategy they apply to their pricing can make all the difference in the long-term success they achieve (or don’t achieve) with their customers. However, though the importance of pricing is well-known, the tools available to optimize it may not be in place when it comes to your business. In particular, automated price monitoring may prove to be a major factor in boosting your sales.

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How to Boost Retail Sales with Automated Discount Pricing

The retail space has certainly long known that pricing is a key factor in a customer’s decision whether to purchase a given product or service. However, while how much something costs is far from the only element influencing the sales process, pricing strategies continue to evolve as the marketplace becomes more and more crowded with emerging retailers. In particular, discount pricing — itself a tried-and-true method of boosting sales — has become less about simply dropping price points and more about strategically adjusting to fit the ever-changing nature of the market.

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5 Online Retail Pricing Strategy Examples Worth Copying

Buy One Get One Free deals, Flat 50% off, Minimum 70% off & other crazy deals! Without them, where’s the fun in shopping online? For eCommerce owners, pricing their products is one of the most daunting tasks. They feel that not only should their prices be attractive for shoppers, but sales figures should always be in the peak of health. Online retailers use a variety of strategies to price their products to keep shoppers intrigued and coming back for more.

Here are the top 5 eCommerce pricing strategy examples we think are worth copying.
Continue reading “5 Online Retail Pricing Strategy Examples Worth Copying”