It’s hard to see competitors as anything other than the enemy when it comes to competing for every little bit of the consumer’s mind and wallet. Regardless of who your competition is, at the end of the day we all want to make sure we have a leg up on the companies who have the ability to own a piece of the market we want and need. But we should all stop to think about what can be gained from a little bit of healthy competition – inspiration and drive to keep growing and building a stronger business for instance. Here are 6 different ways to stay ahead of the competitors in your category of the pet industry:
Know Who They Are
Who are the companies offering a solution to the same problem you’re trying to solve? Those are your competitors. Even if they aren’t in the same industry as you, all of those companies are part of your target consumer’s consideration set. So do your research. Complete a competitive analysis. Conduct consumer research. And share a final list of who all of your competitors are with everyone in your company so you all know who you need to be aware of.
Stay Close…But Not Too Close
There is so much knowledge to be gained from having insight into the competition: how are they innovating, what position are they claiming in the marketplace, how are they marketing to consumers, etc. We recommend always keeping an eye on your competitors, but it comes with a caveat. Don’t stay so close to them that your own innovation is influenced in a negative way or that you start to mimic their approach or messaging. You want to stay close so you know how you can continue to differentiate yourself, not so you can mirror their success. Otherwise, you will play second fiddle in the eyes of your customers and essentially devalue your brand little by little.
You Do You.
Go back to when you first defined your brand and what it represented as a player in the pet industry. This is your voice and no one else will have the same point of view so own the hell out of it (and might we add: have the visuals to match)!
If you know who your competitors are and how they present themselves to consumers, it shouldn’t be hard to remain loyal to who you are and still solve the problems of your customers.
Find your inspiration.
Really want to get ahead? Look outside the pet industry for inspiration. Set your sights on the toy industry, the health and wellness industry, the fashion industry, consumer packaged goods, or any other sector that aligns with what you’re offering. You will find a wealth of ideas for product innovation, design, packaging, and marketing. It’s a sure fire way to stay on your a-game and consistently improve your offering.
Know Your Equation.
There should always be a percentage of your marketing budget dedicated to trying new tactics – don’t be afraid to spend that money! This is the time you can really set yourself apart from the competition – by being the first to try something in your niche. A company must fully capitalize on the successful marketing it already has in place while artfully exploring other new concepts, platforms and consumer audiences – a combination of exploitation and exploration.
Get Real. Create Loyalty.
This is all about creating strong relationships with your retail partners. What programs, processes and people do you have in place to make those relationships stronger and more meaningful? By investing in these direct customers you have the opportunity to stay top of mind, learn important insights about your end consumer and, hopefully, be the chosen vendor when your retail partners are looking to define their solution sets. It’s simple in the end: you want them to think of you when it comes to choosing their product offering, not your competitors.
Bottom line, the pet industry shows no signs of slowing down and there are hundreds of new companies entering the market every year – you need to be on your toes, ready for anyone and anything.
Do you have questions on your specific category in the pet industry and who your competitors are? Contact us if you need support in creating a competitive analysis to get a better idea of who you should be keeping an eye on.
In the meantime, as we approach the fourth quarter, you should be starting to think about your marketing strategy for next year. Download our Pet Product Marketing Guide to help you get crystal clear where to go next with your marketing strategy. It includes 11 questions to answer about your current status and specific actionable steps to follow if you aren’t quite sure how to improve certain areas of your strategy.