Close-Up of Person Completing an Online Purchase with Credit Card and Laptop | Woodruff

Competitive Reviews: Re-engineered for the Future

Considering a competitive review, but wondering if it’s worth the investment? Competitive reviews are not only still relevant, but with more customer data available and measurement around the customer experience, it is an exercise that should be revamped, and can deliver key outcomes for marketing teams to adjust their strategies.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, companies have adapted interactions with customers to address their needs and changes in purchasing behavior: for example, they increased digital interactions with customers and expanded products and services available online, offering less person-to-person contact.1 The pandemic also changed some companies’ business models and marketing strategies. More importantly, some companies will maintain these changes moving forward. All of this adds up to the worthwhile exercise of a competitive review.

Competitive reviews are not only relevant but necessary for understanding how rapidly relationships — as well as product and service use — between companies and customers can change. Take usage patterns for services. Some services, such as at-home fitness and home improvements,2 are seeing renewed expansion since the pandemic, and a company’s competitors may be shifting. Other categories may be in sharp decline.

Thanks to recent technology, competitive reviews can include behavior metrics which weren’t tracked and compared as easily before. In-store purchases and phone conversations with customers were once regarded as an “offline data” black hole, since there was no way to accurately track and attribute sales to previous online behavior or marketing and advertising efforts. Marketing technology has evolved, however, and this offline data is now digital, which means it should be analyzed like any other online activity. For many businesses, this data is critical to decision-making, especially as competitive, customer and market realities quickly evolve.3

Considering whether a competitive review is necessary for your business? Contact us to discuss what’s right for your business.

In addition to data and usage-patterns analysis, there is real value by including a “first-person” perspective as part of a competitive review to validate how your customers’ behavior, expectations and perceptions have changed. Customer segments may have shifted, buying journeys changed and new competitors appeared in the category are all signs that a competitive review would be a much valued exercise.

Conduct competitive assessments to plan for the future, not just understand the past

There are several different key exercises to consider as part of a competitive assessment that is worth the investment because they provide a rich layer of insights beyond pulling and analyzing data. Below are a couple to consider.

1. First-Person Journey

Blank-slate it. Take the buyer’s decision journey and have them walk through it, in their own words, in their own version of stages or phases.

Team Meeting in Open Floor Plan Office | Woodruff

2. PESTLE Analysis (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental)

A PESTLE process identifies the macro external forces facing and providing opportunity to an industry or organization and ultimately how those forces are opportunities and threats. Adding a micro element to a PESTLE by having customers participate in this session can bring a personalized view of how macro factors impact someone at the individual level. The results can be eye-opening and paint a personalized picture that is easy to identify with.

PESTLE Analysis Diagram | Woodruff

Competitive reviews are necessary to stay relevant and ensure your marketing strategies are on track to meet your customers’ needs and support your category growth goals. It’s time to take another look at how this investment can be very worthwhile. Give us a call to discuss an approach that’s right for you.


1. Laura LaBerge, Clayton O’Toole, Jeremy Schnieder, and Kate Smaje. “How COVID-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point — and transformed business forever.” McKinsey (October 5, 2020).

2. Sean Ludwig. “10 Businesses That Will Remain in Demand Post-Pandemic.” U.S. Chamber of Commerce (September 22, 2020).

3. Gregg Johnson. “Is Your Marketing Strategy Based on the Right Data?” Harvard Business Review (May 14, 2020).