Functional Competitive Research

3 min read

It doesn’t matter what kind of product you’re planning to create. Chances are, someone has already done the exact thing. Creating a new product means entering a competitive race, and to win, you need to know who your competitors are.

What is competitive research, and why is it needed?

By analyzing competitors, you can assess your position in the market and develop an efficient marketing strategy. It also allows you to conduct deep functional research, which is needed to discover your own advantages and evaluate the competitors’, collect references, find mistakes, etc.

Competitive analysis is a powerful marketing tool that, if conducted correctly, can positively affect a product and its creators. But how do you find your competitors and analyze their products? Let’s find out. 

Where to begin

Before diving into competitor analysis, it’s essential to define your objective. Whether you’re brainstorming a new product and determining the scope of its MVP, seeking fresh ideas for an established product, or focusing on developing a specific feature and exploring the best implementation methods, your analysis goal will dictate which competitors to examine and what parameters to consider.


How to choose competitors

Two factors distinguish competition between projects: the targeted audience and the problem a product solves. If both factors coincide, the competition between products is direct. If the audience is the same, but the problem isn’t, the competition is indirect. Among direct competitors, the key ones are those that can directly affect the success of your product. For example, when your targeted audience finds the competitor’s product helpful and uses it, the competition is direct. 

If your research objective is identifying MVPs or searching for new ideas for a product, then direct competitors, or better, the key ones, are suitable for analysis. By researching the functionality of products built for the same targeted audience and solving the same problem as yours, you can determine which features are most popular, which are better supported, and which are unnecessary.

Suppose your research aims to collect references for implementing a specific feature; direct and indirect competitors will do. In this case, the purpose of the product is not as essential as the audience is. 

Not only other products can be considered competitors. Different ways to solve the problem can also serve as ones. For example, to satisfy hunger, you can order some food online or cook something yourself. Discovering different ways to solve a problem can lead to interesting thoughts and suggest a competitive advantage.

Where to find competitors

The easiest way is to search the Internet. Just look through a compilation of top solutions from your field. It is best to formulate the request from the point of view of your potential user and then focus on the problem that you and your competitors are trying to solve. Also, you can read professional forums and attend meetups. Even if you don’t have time to participate in such meetups, just check out the lists of participants. Not all of them will serve as competitors, but you’ll figure that out. 

29.03 img competitive research 2 development

What parameters to consider when conducting the research

Competitor research parameters are individual features or scenarios that will be analyzed. If the study’s goal is to identify MVP, it would be helpful to analyze different features. For example, suppose we are making an application for product delivery. In that case, we’ll look at the following parameters (features): product catalog, shopping cart, checkout, payment methods, delivery progress, repeated orders, etc.

After analyzing how often these parameters are implemented by competitors, we will understand which of the features are mandatory for an MVP and which are not. Eventually, all that information can help you realize your competitive advantage. 

If we are to analyze a specific feature, then more detailed scenarios would serve as parameters. A scenario is a list of steps a user or a system takes to get value from a feature. Let’s take authorization features as an example. The scenarios here will be logging in or signing up, choosing a method, entering data, verifying data, recovering a password, etc. After analyzing these parameters, you’ll find the best way to implement them in your project or even learn from someone’s experience.

The list of parameters can be defined in advance, but it is usually updated during the research.

How do you document the research?

The best way to visualize the comparison is by drawing a table. It’s easy to make and convenient to use. 

The comparative table is compiled during the competitor analysis itself. Competitors are arranged in columns and parameters – in rows. For clarity, you can highlight the cells in different colors: if a competitor has a feature/scenario that is well implemented, highlight the box in green. If the performance is mediocre or even evil – use a red color. The feature/scenario is implemented but not supported – yellow is the color. 

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Collection of references and why it’s important

Reference is an example of implementing something in different projects. With the help of references, you can explain to stakeholders, designers, and the development team what exactly you have in mind. Analyzing competitors can also collect many useful materials for further work.

You can create a visual board and place your references there so everything is gathered together in the same place and forms a whole picture. You can sort them as a diagram or a user flow by parameters. 

Competitor analysis helps you identify the minimum viable product (MVP) for a new offering, uncover your competitive edge, and determine the optimal way to implement features. However, it’s crucial not to depend on mimicking competitors solely. Blocking various research techniques with your creativity and expertise is essential for crafting something truly unique and valuable.

29.03 img competitive research 1 2 development

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