Before I meet new creatives, I spend some time checking their brand, their positioning in the market and their market surroundings. When I ask (both corporate & entrepreneurs) about their competition and where do they think they stand within their respective market framework, I mostly get one response – “I don’t want to copy others”.

Well 1. That was not the question, and 2. I definitely hope not! Competition is always perceived as a very bad thing, something to preferably not talk about, like that ex that you try so hard to not be reminded off. Competition is a very strong and free knowledge platform, offering heaps of information just for the grabs. Looking at your competition is purely generating and collecting information. It’s up to you what you do with that knowledge. It can signal you to take it up as a learning and guideline on how to proceed, but can also tell you to move into a complete different direction. It can show visible opportunities on where to play, but also show you where you need loads of strength to take over.

Make sure you don’t go crazy into analyzing your competition, I’ve seen people going analysis paralysis! Make sure you pick 4 key elements you want to dive into, worthy to your brand knowledge to move forward. Consider max 3 to 4 key competitors and max 2 to 3 indirect competitors to keep an eye on.

Offer – Dive into the offer of your competition, based on product/sku level. This will give you insights in the size and focus of their collection. When you realize they all offer apx 20 products per season, your buyers are saying you are not interesting as your offer is too small, and you look back at your 8 products on offer… Wake-up Call, maybe time to invest into a slightly larger product scope.

Playground –  Map out a little competitive overview based on silhouette and you see that none of them really explores the long-sleeve top business into depth. Before you run off and focus 50% of your collection on long-sleeve tops, please do match this to your consumer needs – maybe she doesn’t like to wear long-sleeve tops. But when she does – HELLO! Major opportunity to own that part of the market, an easy win!

Pricing – Map out the key products on price and see where you play in comparison. This again could tell you to price up/down to play in the same field as this is where your consumer shops. But can also tell you that there is a strong opportunity to offer your product priced lower or higher than your competition, offering diversity to the buying platform.

Knowledge – Knowing where your competition plays is also fundamental to drive your sales within wholesale/retail. When you know the assets of your competition you can turn this around with your own USPs being in a sales pitch. Example – might your competition be extremely strong in prints, and you know that, you have the opportunity to sell your solids. Look into the product silhouettes they don’t offer and go in as a cross sell opportunity. The buyer can mix & match accordingly and cross sell both brands, both ways – this could be a great deal! This is your way in, next season you make sure your prints are better, and the buyer moves to selling only your products.

Don’t underestimate the power of knowledge! Please don’t make it a science, but spend a few hours per month, reviewing and eyeing the competition to confirm your next move. It will give you more confidence in your actions, and more confidence means growth! High-five your competition, and thank them for letting you kick ass!

xo Arinda (21/2/2017)