I have already written about how to analyze competitors by functionality. You can read this article by clicking on this link. There is another important question that I would like to discuss. Often, working with my mentees, we work on the topic of competitor analysis. The most difficult thing is not the analysis itself, but the search for competitors. How to find competitors? How many competitors do you need to research features? What if competitors have only 2 of the 8 features that you should explore? What if access to features is closed?
I propose to analyze a few examples taken from my work in the mentoring sphere.
Project idea: develop a system for the coworking administrator and an application for clients.
Process: Oksana (mentee) ran a briefing meeting with her client, and then created a list of features that should have been in the first version of her project. In total, she planned to have 6 features.
Feature name: workroom plan with the ability to book a place or a room
Purpose: a) enable clients to independently find a place at a location and book it. b) clients should be able to book a meeting room for a while. c) the administrator must be able to quickly book a place or meeting room for a client.
Features: This project is half offline and half online. Oksana must create a system that will help people in the offline world. The coworking space has some features: a) a building has 3 floors: 2 floors are divided into small rooms, and the 3rd floor is occupied by one large conference room. b) at the moment, all bookings go through the administrator, and the booking scheme is maintained in the excel table.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you read the details of the task that Oksana had to complete? Where would you start? How would you go about finding competitors?
The first step that the mentee took was to start looking for competitors using Google Search. She used queries like “top coworking spaces in Europe”, “coworking spaces”, and “best coworking spaces in the world”. It took her a long time to find anything she could cling to. But sites did not talk about what features are provided and how to use them.
What did Oksana try to find there? She expected to find an overview, a description of the pages and features offered, as is often done on the Our Benefits or Why Us page. Alas, nothing could be found.
In the second step, the mentee tried other search methods:
1. YouTube video
2. Facebook channels
3. Linkedin groups
4. Designers’ portfolios who work for her product competitors
And she failed again. Oksana did not find information that she could add to her analysis work.
After that, we jumped on a call and discussed the problem. I suggested not focusing on direct competitors and switching to concentrating on how features work and on the system logic interaction with users. So, it was necessary to ignore the business itself and pay attention to the function.
Here is a picture of an existing coworking plan that Oksana had from the very beginning. How can you interact with this picture? What does this interaction look like? Where can you find something like this?
Oksana and I created a list that consisted of:
1. Booking cinema tickets (and there are many different platforms)
2. Selection of apartments for purchase, how it is done, for example on Lun.ua
3. Booking a seat on a bus/train/airplane
4. R-Keeper in restaurants (add photo)
My mentee can already work with this. We found competitors on the most important basis - interaction with the place and its booking. The platforms’ interfaces that were found had additional functions, such as filters for finding the right place/meeting room. Oksana applied some ideas to her project so that users could easily move between 3 floors and quickly find free places. All ideas were validated through user interviews.
1) Pay attention to your search queries in Google Search. What exactly are you trying to find?
2) Break down your competitor analysis by feature you will be analyzing
3) If it's hard to find direct competitors, ask yourself the questions "How should the user interact with the functionality" and "Where is similar interaction used?"
Project idea: an application for medication reminders.
Process: Nataliia independently determined who could be the target audience (proto-persona), their goals, and motivations.
Content: the application should consist of 1 big feature and 3 smaller ones: a) registration, b) creating a reminder to take medications c) a calendar with the ability to take into account the female cycle) profile.
Purpose: help users take their pills on time without going astray.
Features: This project has a free and paid version, so the search involved finding: a) functionality that the company received in a free form; b) functionality that is available only in the paid version.
Nataliia searched for competitors in the Play Market and on health forums. In this case, she managed to find direct competitors: Flo, My calendar, Medisafe, WomanLog, and Clue.
Not all competitors had all the necessary features. Therefore, was created a table and a presentation with all functionalities in detail. Also, where was indicated what has a competitor functionality and what does not has.
Nataliia analyzed and in conclusion, made a presentation of all features (add photo) that she would like to have in her application. All suggestions have been validated with user interviews and usability testing sessions.
1) For your competitor analysis to be more successful, write down what each feature should consist of - then you will have a complete picture and get rid of abstractions
2) It's okay if each competitor does not have all the features that you plan for your project
3) To find competitors, think about who your audience might be and how you can find them. For example, on forums or Facebook groups, people share their experiences and there you can find a lot of helpful information.
The competitors' search depends on your project, its subject, and its purpose. Try to identify the purpose of each function and find direct business competitors. If it’s hard to find direct competitors, think about where else they can apply the logic of the planned feature.
I hope these two examples have helped you understand how and where to look for competitors. This is a long process, especially if you have just started to study this topic.
This analysis can help you understand what your project might consist of, how it will look and how it will work.
Don't forget to validate your findings with users to learn how to conduct competitor analysis. I suggest reading this article.
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