As businesses strive to position themselves at the forefront of industries, understanding market share and their place in the competitive landscape has become more crucial than ever. In recent years we have noticed an increase in businesses looking for market share insight to help identify and navigate their competitive advantage; however, we argue that truly understanding competitors requires a deeper and more nuanced approach. This article examines the reasons businesses seek to understand their market share, explores the limitations of relying solely on data, and asserts the value of qualitative customer insights in understanding the true competitor landscape for businesses in all sectors.
Market share figures offer businesses a quantifiable metric that reflects their presence in the market relative to their competitors. Market share data of this kind can be gathered using market intelligence or web analytics tools, but these can be costly, time-consuming, and confusing, leading to vague and unhelpful conclusions which may negatively impact your strategy. Numbers can easily be misinterpreted and unintentionally taken out of context, and even when interpreted in light of external factors, cannot always provide a clear window into the true competitive landscape.
Market share analysis of this nature has limitations – it may provide a snapshot of a moment in time, but does not unveil the intricate dynamics of the competitive landscape.
While market share data presents a numerical snapshot, it lacks the depth of understanding that only direct customer interactions can provide. Customers are a valuable source of qualitative insights that data simply cannot capture. Engaging with customers can unveil not only why they choose one product or service over another, but also the emotional and psychological factors that influence their decisions. Understanding the reasons behind customer preferences empowers businesses to adapt their strategies effectively, in a way that directly and effectively targets their relevant audience.
Engaging customers in open conversations can uncover a treasure trove of information that market share data overlooks. Customers can expose the strengths and weaknesses of competitors, a factor hidden when viewing figures alone. Speaking with customers often reveals specific reasons they choose your services over your competitors, or vice versa.
For example, a simple survey question asking customers why they have chosen you as their supplier could disclose that your prices are cheaper, that your delivery times are faster, or that your products are higher quality than your competitors – information that can’t be garnered from simple figures. By understanding the factors driving customer choices, businesses can tailor their offerings to better match customer needs.
Web analytics provide a wealth of data about user behaviour, website traffic, and engagement. However, relying solely on web analytics to understand competitors falls short. Analytics can illustrate traffic trends and user interactions but fail to unpack why users take specific actions. Furthermore, they often lack context about competitors' product differentiation and customer perceptions. While web analytics have their place, they should complement, not replace, direct insights from customers.
Investing time in qualitative customer research might seem more resource-intensive than quickly obtaining market share data. However, this approach can ultimately save time and money. Developing products and strategies based on customer insights reduces the risk of misguided decisions. Rather than adjusting approaches later due to data misinterpretation, businesses can make informed choices from the outset.
In the quest to understand the competitive landscape, qualitative customer research emerges as the ultimate tool. This approach embraces the complexities of human decision-making, capturing the emotional, practical, and cognitive factors that drive choices. By engaging customers in meaningful conversations, businesses can uncover insights that guide strategic decisions, product development, and marketing efforts.
In an era where differentiation and customer experience are the keys to survival, a deeper understanding of competitors is paramount. While market share data provides a basic benchmark, qualitative customer insights offer a comprehensive understanding of customer preferences, needs, and perceptions. It sheds light on the "why" behind the numbers, enabling businesses to make informed decisions that resonate with their audience. By prioritising qualitative customer research over market share data, businesses can escape the limits of statistics, and craft strategies that truly connect with their customers and out-manoeuvre their competition.
Research and Insight Junior
Jess has a Masters degree in Cybercrime Investigation, and a Bachelors in Sociology and Criminology. She loved the research and statistics aspects of her degrees and now enjoys experiencing the practical applications of research, alongside writing content and experimenting with new software. Her favourite part of research is finding meaningful answers hidden within data.More About Jess
What Our Clients Say
See how our insight makes a measurable difference.
Our latest Blog Posts
From research tips to industry updates.
We Are Officially B Corp Certified
Utilising Customer Insights To Increase Market Share
Research Briefs | Understanding your Needs