No brand is immune to competition. Even market leaders have their nemesis, and direct competitors keep a company from having the entire pie for itself. In many cases, competition can actually be mutually beneficial, as it keeps the competing parties from becoming complacent. In always trying to outdo each other, the companies push themselves to improve their brands and the products or services they carry. It is a welcome cycle that not many businesses want to admit (or enjoy).
Competitive analysis begins in much the same way a company would evaluate its own brand. You can examine your competitor’s value proposition in I3 terms based on their marketing claims. Find out exactly what they are saying that gives them an edge from their competition and compare that to your own unique selling points. If both of you are claiming the same thing, you end up canceling each other out on that factor, all other things remaining equal. I call this the overlapping value proposition: two companies making equally valid claims to a differentiator, neutralizing each other in the market on that attribute.
Take for example, Coca Cola and Pepsi. Both of these fizzy drinks are refreshing, affordable, and, for a time, they were actually marketed as health tonics. The Cola Wars are infamous in the marketing world. When it finally hit them that there is no use trying to convince consumers that one brand of soda tastes better than the other, they decided to go with more distinct (and emotional) approaches.
(image from Brand New )
Rather than win a consumer following with proof of taste superiority (a virtual unprovable), the beverage giants decided to woo the market by creating ‘personalities’ for their brand. It is evident in the evolution of their logos. Coca-Cola positions itself as a feel-good drink that encompasses all generations; thus, its logo has remained consistent over the years. Pepsi, on the other hand, keeps reinventing itself as the ‘cool drink.’ It mainly targets youth, which is why it also tends to get popular celebrities and artists to promote its brand.
Despite their difference in marketing approaches, Coke and Pepsi still enjoy a healthy rivalry. They were able to avoid the rut of the overlapping value proposition by re-thinking their challenge in other dimensions. They observed consumers more intently and creatively constructed brand personalities that resonate with their target market. Value proposition don’t have to be tangible or factual – they can simply be a matter of style.