11 Types of Competitive Analysis Frameworks To Find an Edge

Christy Walters


August 11, 2022 (Updated: February 20, 2024)

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As much as you’d like it to, your brand doesn’t exist in a bubble. Your business decisions aren’t the only things that affect your sales or success. The global market and the choices of your competitors also influence brand strategy. And while you can’t control what your competitors do, you can track their behavior. Monitoring what your competitors are doing can help you make predictions about where the market is going, and what you need to do to keep your business ahead. This guide covers the types of competitive analysis frameworks you can use to make your job easier.

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What Is a Competitive Analysis Framework?

A competitive analysis framework is a structure or data workflow marketers and business professionals use to research the competition in their industry. Some frameworks also look at other factors that influence business, such as the global market, politics, or audience behavior and beliefs.

Competitive analysis frameworks help you collect information on the competition’s strategies, marketing plans, sales, products, and services. Some include data visualization models that make it easier to understand multiple streams of data in one image.

Types of Competitive Analysis Frameworks To Try

The type of framework that works best for your brand may vary by campaign or even by the competitor you want to analyze. It’s good to have your marketing toolbox stocked with many types of competitive analysis frameworks that you can pull out, depending on the type of information you want to gather. Here are some options to choose from as you plan your marketing strategy research:

The “7Ps of Marketing” Framework

The 7Ps or marketing is a basic analysis model to determine what a brand is selling and how they’re doing it. While this is most often a framework you use to analyze your own brand’s marketing strategy, you can use it to get basic information about your direct and indirect competitors. The 7Ps are:

  • Product: What is the competition selling?
  • Price: How much does the product or service cost?
  • Place: Where does the competition sell the product or service?
  • Promotion: How does the competition share information about the product or service with the audience?
  • People: Who plays a role in developing, producing, and selling the product or service?
  • Process: How does the competition deliver the product or service to the customer?
  • Physical evidence: How does the competition prove to the audience that it exists and provides the right solution?

Business Model Canvas

The business model canvas framework allows you to look at the most basic and important factors that affect the success of a company. This model looks at nine influential areas of marketing and sales to learn more information about a brand:

  • Cost structure.
  • Customer relationships.
  • Customer segments.
  • Key brand activities.
  • Key company resources.
  • Marketing channels.
  • Prominent brand partnerships.
  • Revenue streams.
  • Value propositions.

Typically, you’d run this kind of analysis on your own brand first and then on each of your competitors. Compare the fundamentals of each company to find similarities and differences in your business structures.

Competition Identification Diagram

Sometimes, finding out who your real competitors are is just as important as discovering who has the edge with your audience. The brands you think are your top competitors might not be your most direct competitors at all. If you want to get the most accurate results from any other type of analysis, make sure you’re looking at and targeting the right competition. You can use a competition identification diagram to help. This Venn diagram framework helps you identify competitors that are big, small, direct, and indirect, as seen in the following image:

competitor venn diagram for competitive analysis frameworks

Image via Buffer

The blue segment contains competitors that target the same customers as your brand. These are a type of indirect competitor that provides a different solution to the same problems you solve for your audience. The green segment shows competitors that offer the same solutions as your brand. These are indirect competitors that solve problems with similar solutions but target a unique set of customers. For example, they may target bigger brands, clients with more income, or those in another industry.

Finally, the place where the two circles intersect includes competitors that provide the same solutions to the same customer base. These are your direct competitors and the brands you would target for competitive analysis. But, depending on the business moves you want to make, any brands that fit within this Venn diagram could be worth assessing in a competitive analysis.

Customer Journey Map

A customer or user journey map shows a visual representation of how a client or consumer interacts with a brand. The map includes all the customer channels the brand uses to interact with leads, like social media, face-to-face services, or email marketing. Then, the map explains how a lead interacts with the brand on that channel, like a lead who finds a brand through social media and then browses the company’s feed. Here, the person may like a post or share it before clicking the follow button to see more updates from the account.

The customer journey map also lets you keep track of engagement metrics, such as follower counts, phone calls, or email replies. This data gives insight into how popular and responsive a brand is when interacting with customers on each channel. Journey maps help you identify customer pain points and challenges that leads might encounter when interacting with a brand on certain channels. These maps can also give you insight into various opportunities to improve brand channels and create a better user experience than the competition provides.

Growth-Share Matrix

A growth-share matrix shows how a company’s products or services compare to others in the same competitive market. This type of analysis is popular with big organizations or ones with many product and service offerings. The matrix breaks down into four quadrants where you can place products and services based on their market share and growth potential, like the chart below:

growth share matrix diagram for competitive analysis frameworks

Image via Similarweb

In the above example, your products and services would fall under four categories:

  • Stars: These products or services have high growth potential and a high market share. Stars make for excellent investments for a brand.
  • Question marks: These products or services have high market growth potential but low market share, often because they’re new. You may need more information and time to decide if they’re worthy investments or ideas to abandon.
  • Cash cows: These products and services have low market growth potential but a high market share. These items may be things a brand offers to help fund investment in star products and services.
  • Pets: These products and services have low growth potential and a low market share. In cases like these, companies might plan rebranding strategies to reposition themselves within target markets.

Perceptual Mapping

Perceptual or positioning mapping plots the customer perception of your brand and your competitors on a graph. Marketers often use this type of analysis to understand how leads and clients view products and services throughout an industry.

Like a graph, perceptual mapping uses an X and Y axis to chart to compare perception between customers and competing businesses. You can plot any two factors in relation to the campaign data you want to collect. One example may include the perceived quality of products and services versus the price. For something like this, you’d plot the points that come between those two factors to get an idea of where your company and your competitors fall within this range.

Using this framework, you’re able to analyze multiple competitors at once compared to looking at broad industry overviews or just one competitor at a time. A perceptual map helps you see how you can adjust business factors to help your brand. So, for instance, if you have a product or service with higher perceived value but a low price point than competitors, you’d increase prices while still offering better quality than the competition.

PEST Analysis

The PEST analysis, also called the Broad Factors Analysis, looks at the external factors affecting business decisions. It stands for political, economic, social, and technological factors, which are valuable indicators of your business’s growth among the competition. Breaking down each aspect of the PEST analysis, you’ll have a better idea of your position in the market and what driving factors are influencing it the most:

  • Political: Political influencers can be industry-specific policies or regulations that affect the ease of doing business in a market.
  • Economic: Economic influencers, like inflation, exchange rates, and interest rates, affect a business’s ability to make and spend money.
  • Social: Social influencers encompass human behaviors and patterns, population growth, demographics, and trends that affect how audiences make purchases.
  • Technological: Innovative factors like technological and systems advancements also affect the ease of conducting business in an industry.

Use the PEST analysis any time you want to dive into the advantages and challenges your brand and competitors face in the current market. The data can also show you which brands are more prepared to handle changes and setbacks, giving you even more insight into how competitors increase their market shares.

Porter’s Five Forces

This framework got its name from Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, who created it in 1979. The model examines five market forces that affect companies in any industry, including:

  • Industry competition and rivalries.
  • Probability of new competition entering the industry.
  • Supplier power.
  • Customer power.
  • Threats of substitute products or services entering the industry.

Rather than looking at one individual competitor, Porter’s Five Forces is an excellent analysis tool for understanding the overall competitive structure of an industry. It’s an excellent starting point and provides valuable insight, especially when:

  • Creating a new business strategy.
  • Understanding if a new product or service could be profitable in your industry.
  • Finding rival’s weaknesses and avoiding their mistakes.
  • Looking for a complete competitive overview of your industry or market.
  • Maximizing profitability in your industry.

STP Model

The STP model stands for segmentation, targeting, and positioning. It looks at how a company addresses its audience and then delivers relevant, personalized messages to the group to encourage conversions and sales. Each letter of the STP acronym functions as follows:

  • Segmentation divides the audience into smaller niche groups.
  • Targeting shows which segment will be most receptive to each message, product, or service.
  • Positioning uses tactics to make a product or service most appealing to the desired segment.

While the STP model is more common for planning your own brand’s marketing strategies, you can conduct it for your competitors, too. Use information from their marketing channels to identify the audience segments they’re targeting and how they’re positioning their brands as the best solutions. This process may help you find weaknesses in competing marketing messages, giving you the opportunity to improve yours and get ahead of your competitors.

Strategic Group Analysis

The strategic group analysis framework organizes your competitors into groups based on the similarities in their business or marketing strategies. The groups that you choose are entirely up to you and your team and can vary based on the information you want to collect. For example, you might sort your competitors based on pricing strategies, products or services, or specific marketing strategies.

The beauty of this analysis framework is that it’s helpful for understanding what companies are doing to maintain top positions and a majority of market shares. The more patterns you find among top-performing brands, the more you can decide if adopting some of these tactics is right for your company. Use this type of analysis is when you’re:

  • Reviewing sales and marketing strategies.
  • Analyzing your target audience.
  • Comparing profit margins to the competition.

11. SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Each category looks at information like:

  • Strengths: Internal factors of a company that benefit its business operations, like a highly trained team.
  • Weaknesses: Internal factors of a company that put the brand at a disadvantage, such as a small budget.
  • Opportunities: External factors that give the company opportunities for growth, such as high demand for a specific product or service.
  • Threats: External factors that create challenges for a brand, such as inflation or rising supply costs.

You can use a SWOT analysis to discover these internal and external influences on any brand, including your own. When you run this type of review on a rival, it not only shows where their strengths and weaknesses lie. The results also show where your brand performs better than the competition and where you may need to focus more of your efforts and resources to get and stay ahead of their progress.

Why Should You Use a Framework For Your Competitive Analysis?

Competitive analysis frameworks give you data and insights into how your competitors run their businesses. This is helpful when planning your own marketing strategy because you know what you’re competing against rather than making guesses. The more you know about your competitors, the better your educated predictions will be when planning marketing strategies that keep you ahead of brand rivals. Check out a few of the benefits you’ll get from following a framework for your competitive analysis:

  • Avoid competitors’ mistakes.
  • Find content and strategy gaps.
  • Identify market shifts.
  • Identify market trends and patterns.
  • Make data easier to understand.
  • Set achievable, measurable strategy goals.
  • Target effective marketing strategies.

What to Look For When Choosing a Competitive Analysis Framework

Since there are so many analysis frameworks available, you may wonder how to choose the right one for each campaign or competitor. Here are four elements to keep in mind to find the best framework for your research:

Choosing the Right Competitors or Competitive Factors

Before you pick a framework, you need to know who to analyze. Are you looking at the strengths and weaknesses of one brand? Or are you going to analyze your entire industry? Different frameworks target different numbers and sizes of competitors, so knowing who you’re analyzing helps you make the right choice.

Picking the Right Elements to Analyze

Once you know which brands or factors you want to focus on, you then need to decide which business aspects are worth tracking. Again, these factors depend on what you want to get out of the data. For example, if you’re trying to decide if you can increase service prices and still remain competitive in your market, then pricing strategies and perceived value might be your starting points.

Discovering Where To Find the Right Data

Competitive analysis can sometimes be tricky because not all information you look for will be readily available online. You’ll need to know the right sources and locations to find the data you’re looking for. So check things like content analysis tools, social media, and trade publications to find information that might be less obvious in a simple Google search.

Understanding How To Apply Your Analysis

Before you even pick a framework, it’s important to know how you plan to apply the data you find at the end of the analysis. Collecting data is just busy work if you don’t have a plan for using it. Consider how the information you collect affects changes you want to make to things like your content marketing strategy or your online advertising. Then, you can select a framework that presents these insights in a clear, easy-to-understand format.

Leverage the Data To Elevate Your Content Marketing

Understanding what your competitors are doing to generate leads and customers can be extremely helpful in developing a content strategy that gets results. If you’re wondering how to gain more insights into your content performance and what to do with the info once you have it, download our free guide: “How To Analyze Your Content and Craft a Winning Strategy.”

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Kevin Doory

Director of SEO at Auto Revo

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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