Successful brands have a strong understanding of people they’re serving and of the other brands operating in their space. Knowing your consumer and your competition is the foundation for realizing your brand’s opportunity space in the market.
So where should you begin? With the consumer or the competition? Unlike the classic “chicken or egg” question, the answer is pretty clear.
Everything should start with the consumer.
Who is a consumer?
A consumer is a person who is either currently buying products or services within your brand’s category or is able to be persuaded to start purchasing those products or services. Consumers come in all shapes and sizes, from different locations, at different ages, with different lifestyles, values, beliefs, and buying powers. When creating a brand strategy, it is far less important to understand who a consumer is than it is identifying more precisely who your consumer is.
Your consumer is of course a subset of the consumer population, made up of people who possess certain attributes that make them more susceptible to trying or buying your offering. Your consumer is often referred to as your “target audience.” Defining your target audience means looking across demographics, geographies, psychographics, and more, to create a strong profile for the ideal people your brand can serve.
Who is your competition?
Only once you have a strong grip on your target audience can you truly understand this question. Your core competition can be defined quite simply: It’s another brand vying to win over your target audience. For example, if you are a kombucha brand looking to target male urban dwellers between the ages of 18-24, your closest competitors would be doing the same.
Defining your competition is the first step in the right direction, but getting under their skin to understand their brand strategy and execution capability is what’s required next. Try to understand what your competitors’ roles in the market are. What products are they making and what emotional and functional benefits do those products have that they’re communicating to consumers? Outside of product, dive deep into their pricing, distribution and promotional strategies to discover how and where your brand must be most competitive in market.
Understanding how your competition communicates to consumers is another must. Discovering which media channels your competition uses to communicate through the year and the budget they spend behind their advertising efforts will give you a good indication for the level of fight you need to approach them with.
It’s all about wants and needs
A common misstep when creating or scaling a brand is forgetting that, no matter what, your brand must be serving a consumer. It’s often quite easy to lose sight of that, so check yourself time and time again that every decision you’re making has the consumer at the center.
Products and services exist to fulfill people’s wants and needs, so deeply understanding what it is that those people want and already have allows you to discover the unmet need, and therefore, the opportunity for your brand.
Opportunities for your brand can take various shapes and sizes too. There can be completely unmet opportunities – which are essentially things people want but which no competitor is providing. There can also be under-delivered needs – which are things people want and have, but could be served better. The place to start is understanding what people want and then auditing your competition to determine how well those wants are being met. If your brand is meeting a need better than the competition, your communication strategy behind that product should flex your superior benefits. Whereas if you’re serving a completely unmet need, you might communicate how your brand solves a relatable problem.
Summing it up:
To boil it down, the road to real consumer intelligence starts with the consumer and follows a path of competitive understanding to discover your brand’s opportunities.
Here’s a map for your journey:
- Know your consumer: Who is the target audience for your brand?
- Define your competition: Which brands are talking to your target?
- Understand your target’s needs: What do these people need? What do these people have?
- Create Your Brand Opportunities: Develop products to meet unmet needs or under-delivered needs.
- Communicate it: Tell your consumers about the new need your product is meeting or how your new product is better at meeting needs than the competition.
At ProQuo AI, we always have the consumer in mind. This is why we’ve tailored our Brand Management Platform to show you what people think of your brand – daily. Learn where you stand against the competition, which demographics love your brand the most, and what people think and feel about your brand overall. Benefit from features like our Brand & Competition Monitor, which shows you space opportunities for innovation, or our Awareness Tracker, which helps you keep tabs on your brand awareness.
Interested in understanding more about building a strong brand strategy? Check out our article, “How to Build a Brand Strategy.”