Why is competition important in marketing?


One of Walt Disney’s most famous quotes was: “I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.” 

Indeed, we often think of competition as a threat. An enemy to battle against. A worry to keep us up at night. But the value  of competition to a marketer cannot be overstated. It’s  the fuel that drives innovation, improves quality, and offers better value to customers. In this article, we're going to dive into why competition is a positive force in marketing and how you can leverage it to maximize your advantage.

Putting competition in perspective

Competition in marketing is a term used to describe the relationship between businesses that offer similar products or services to the same target audience. A more strict approach to competition would be a zero-sum game, where the use of your product or service by the target audience precludes the use or purchase of any similar product. As a comparison tool, It's the metric  of how businesses stack up against each other in terms of quality, value, innovation, and customer appeal.

Think of competition as a race. The goal of any business is to cross the finish line first by offering the best products, services, and customer experiences. To achieve this, companies must understand their competitors' strengths and weaknesses and continuously strive to improve and differentiate themselves from the competition. It's a crucial element that shapes the marketing landscape and ensures that businesses are always seeking to improve and evolve.

One of Walt Disney’s most famous quotes: “I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.” 

Marketing benefits from every direction:

Competition is a multifaceted catalyst that triggers all kinds of “chemical reactions” for your team, and the company at large. It’s a power that:

  • Encourages companies to innovate and offer unique products/services
  • Drives companies to improve the quality of their products/services
  • Forces companies to offer better value to customers
  • Increases brand awareness and recognition
  • Promotes market research and understanding of target audience
  • Leads to differentiation and customer segmentation
  • Increases marketing budget and resources allocated towards marketing efforts
  • Improves customer experience and satisfaction
  • Forces companies to stay up-to-date with the latest marketing trends and strategies
  • Ensures a healthy and dynamic market environment, leading to better products, services and customer experiences overall.

Advantages of the Market Competition

Increases Awareness

Brand awareness and recognition are directly affected by marketing competition. When multiple financial institutions offer similar products or services to the same target audience, each must fight to be more visible in the market and make themselves known. This results in a higher level of brand recognition and increased customer engagement.

Take, for example, the credit card market. Companies like Capital One and Chase compete fiercely for the same target audience, constantly seeking to outdo each other with new products, promotions, and marketing campaigns. As a result, these brands are highly visible and well-known to consumers.

Of course, the competitive landscape often leads to an increase in marketing budgets and resources. Financial institutions must invest more into their marketing efforts to stay ahead of the competition and effectively reach their target audience. This leads to a higher frequency of advertising, more engaging promotions, and a wider reach, further increasing brand awareness and recognition.

Improves Quality

Competition is a powerful driving force that leads to improvement in product and service quality. When multiple companies are vying for the same target audience, they are forced to differentiate themselves and offer higher quality products and services to stand out from the crowd.

Here are some specific examples of how market competition can improve product and service quality:

Improved features: Companies may add new features to their products or services to stand out from the competition, such as waterproof technology in smartphones, or a more user-friendly interface for financial services.

Better customer service: Companies may improve their customer service offerings, such as 24/7 availability or improved response times, to differentiate themselves from their competitors and offer a better customer experience.

Increased durability: In a world of disposable and short-life products, competition may drive companies to make their products more durable, such as longer battery life or more durable materials, to improve customer satisfaction and reduce the need for repairs or replacements.

Improved safety and security: In industries like finance, competition may lead to improved safety and security measures, such as enhanced security protocols for online transactions or better fraud protection for credit cards.

Enhanced performance: Competition can drive companies to make their products or services faster and more efficient, such as faster download speeds or improved processing times for financial transactions.

Offers Better Value to Customers

Often (usually, in fact), the customer is the key beneficiary of competition as it’s a key factor in driving companies to offer better value to customers. Companies are constantly seeking to differentiate themselves and offer more value to customers in order to stand out from their competitors.

For example, consider the automobile market. Companies like Toyota and Ford are in constant competition, each trying to offer the best value for customers in terms of features, fuel efficiency, safety, and more. As a result, customers benefit from a wider range of options and can choose the car that best fits their needs and budget.

Competition also leads to more innovation and better pricing. Companies are motivated to offer lower prices and special promotions to attract customers and stand out from the competition. This results in better value for customers, as they can purchase high-quality products and services at a more affordable price.

Moreover, having a highly competitive market encourages companies to be more transparent and straightforward with their communication in pricing and offerings. Customers benefit from clear and concise information about what they are paying for, making it easier to compare products and services and make informed purchasing decisions.

Large corporations battling for recognition in a competitive landscape. Made with midjourney.

The Impact of Competition on Marketing Strategies

Here are some ways that competition can impact marketing strategies:

Differentiation: Competition can drive companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors by offering unique products, services, or experiences that set them apart.

Target audience focus: Competition can lead companies to focus more on their target audience, researching and understanding their needs, preferences, and behaviors in order to tailor their marketing strategies to better reach them. It can help create and capture a niche market when it wasn’t necessarily well defined before.

Innovation: Competition can spur companies to be more innovative in their marketing strategies, exploring new channels and techniques for reaching their target audience and standing out from their competitors.

Brand positioning: Competition can drive companies to re-evaluate and adjust their brand positioning, seeking to establish a unique and differentiated brand image that sets them apart from their competitors.

Marketing mix: Competition can lead companies to adjust their marketing mix, such as product features, price, place, and promotion, in order to better appeal to their target audience and stand out from their competitors.

The Impact of Competition on Marketing Strategies

Jump-starts Market Research

One of the most significant benefits of competition in marketing is that it encourages market research. When there are multiple players in a market, companies need to gather information about their competitors and the market to determine their unique selling proposition (USP). This information can help companies understand their target audience, identify gaps in the market, and improve their marketing strategies.

Promotes Differentiation

Competition also promotes differentiation in the market. With multiple players vying for the same target audience, companies need to stand out from the crowd to attract and retain customers. Competition drives companies to create unique products, services, and marketing strategies that differentiate them from their competitors.

Leads to Customer Segmentation

Competition also leads to customer segmentation, where companies divide their target audience into smaller groups based on specific characteristics. This allows companies to tailor their marketing strategies to specific segments, resulting in more effective and efficient marketing efforts.

Types of Competition in Marketing

In marketing, there are three types of competition: direct competition, indirect competition, and substitute competition.

Direct Competition

Direct competition refers to companies that offer the same products or services to the same target audience. These companies are direct competitors and are the main focus of a company's marketing efforts.

Indirect Competition

Indirect competition refers to companies that offer products or services that fulfill the same need as the target audience, but in a different way. For example, a fast-food chain and a sit-down restaurant both fulfill the need for a quick meal, but they offer it in different ways.

Substitute Competition

Substitute competition refers to companies that offer products or services that can substitute for each other. For example, a car and a bicycle both serve the same purpose of transportation, but they offer it in different ways.

How to Stay Ahead of Competition

To stay ahead of the competition in marketing, companies need to monitor their competitors' marketing strategies, maintain a strong online presence, offer unique customer experiences, and continuously innovate.

Monitor Competitors' Marketing Strategies

Monitoring competitors' marketing strategies can provide valuable insights into what is working and what is not. This information can help companies improve their own marketing strategies and stay ahead of the competition.

Maintain a Strong Online Presence

Having a strong online presence is crucial in today's digital age. Companies need to have a well-designed website, active social media accounts, and a robust content marketing strategy to maintain a strong online presence.

Offer Unique Customer Experience

Offering a unique customer experience sets companies apart from their competitors and creates loyalty among customers. Companies can do this by providing excellent customer service, offering personalized experiences, and being responsive to customer needs.

Continuously Innovate

Finally, companies need to continuously innovate to stay ahead of the competition. This means staying up-to-date on the latest technology and marketing trends and experimenting with new ideas and strategies.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, competition plays a vital role in the marketing world. It drives companies to create better products and services, reach their target audience more effectively, and continuously improve their marketing efforts. By embracing competition and striving to stay ahead, companies can achieve long-term success in their marketing efforts.

If you're looking for a way to leverage competition to boost your brand, get in touch for a quick 15-minute demo of how Brew can help.