Competitive Comparison: What It Is, Why You Need It, & How to Do It

The need for social and media analytics continues to rise as more companies enter into the playing field. And a competitive comparison is a vital part of your company’s benchmarking efforts to stay a few steps ahead here. It gives you a thorough understanding of your own brand position, audience and trends. Let’s check it out!

importance of competitive intelligence for brand strategy

What does a competitive analysis offer and why does a brand need it? In short, to stay on top of the changing scenery, and aligned with fickle consumers. To that end, here are some statistics that highlight the importance of having competitive intelligence to not only beat out the competition, but win fans:

  • 69% of Americans either changed brands entirely or branched out to new brands post COVID. Competitive intel can reveal why they are switching, providing you opportunity to swoop in and recapture those considering leaving you, and others.
  • 30% of millennials are quick to drop a brand that doesn’t meet expectations
  • Over 77% of consumers said that specific ‘hero’ products inspire their loyalty to a brand, which makes discovering these new opportunities in the competitive realm critical

Additionally, the probability of selling to a current customer is 60-70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5% to 20%, with competitive comparison, the former is significantly easier. Let’s explore how.

Competitor Comparison in Action

From tracking how you stack up and identifying competitors (new and old) that are gaining on you, to a detailed elaboration on emerging trends in your marketplace, there’s never been a better time for a competitive comparison.

Tracking your competition can provide an expansive real-time view into how your competition is perceived by both consumers and media. With social media analytics and market research, your window of view is blown wide open and you can see not just the beach, but the whole ocean.

This vast intel is broken down and segmented into easily digestible bits for you and your team. And the information can be used to help you gain momentum and outshine your rivals, as well as gain praise and loyalty from consumers around the world.

And a competitive comparison goes well beyond mentions and likes. It provides metrics that matter – demographics, psychographics, sentiment analysis and even brand passion. And that’s exactly what we will dive into next!

Understanding Your Category, Share of Voice, and Consumer Sentiment

These are the big three of benchmarking. Are you analyzing the right category(ies) for your brand? And then what about how you compare against other top contenders out there? Are you being mentioned and if so what’s the volume comparison? And of course, sentiment is king when it comes to consumers. They make decisions based on how they feel, so gauging this metric is very critical component. It’s vital, in fact.

Let’s break that all down.

There’s the category you believe you’re competing in, and then there’s the category you are competing in. And sometimes it’s not as clear cut as you’d think it would be. For example, if you’re a beverage brand, doing a little social listening may reveal that consumers are using your soda as a mixer more than a thirst quencher. This would be valuable intel to know so that your brand could pivot its marketing in the right direction.

Once you’ve shifted your marketing, it’s time to see how loudly your brand stands out to consumers and how you stack up against the competition. A share of voice analysis helps you visualize how you’re doing on multiple levels against the top competitors out there.

Below we can see three top beauty companies and how they are preforming against one another over the past 6 months – posts, mentions, potential impressions, sentiment and passion intensity are all revealed:


Sentiment and passion intensity play a huge role in how your brand in perceived by the public. We can see that our first brand is ruling in all areas but one – net sentiment. Passion intensity runs on a scale form 0-100 and tells us how passionate the consumers are about this brand. Net Sentiment ranges from -100 too 100 and reveals how consumers feel about the brand.

The third brand, though not mentioned as much and with far fewer potential impressions, is garnering higher sentiment and brand passion. When we look at what’s driving this passion, it boils down to a fantastic Instagram presence and great products that offer consistent results.

But like everything, this too could change. What’s perceived as fantastic one moment is boring the next….

Identify and Track Trends Over Time

Are you hip? Are your products rad? These outdated terms were used frequently at one time, but stand out as being out of touch when reading them now. And this is important for brands in every category to consider, as it applies not only to word choice, but also to trends. Trends come in many forms, from fashion to lifestyles and are accompanied by hashtags and even new slang. Without identifying these markers, you are likely missing out ways to connect with your audience and could be alienating them if you’re perceived as stodgy and outdated.

What’s ‘In’ one moment changes overnight, and so savvy brands will need to be on the lookout for those conversations that are happening and gaining a steady following. It’s in these smaller conversations with higher engagements that emerging trends can be found.

As an example, this beauty trends conversation highlights outlier clusters which reveal conversations that show an unusually high volume of engagement, even though it’s not being talked about a lot. Exploring Sunburn Blush and it’s revealed that this is a new Tik Tok trend, and is one seen being worn by celebrities like Hailey Bieber:


Is this something makeup companies will want to amplify in their messaging? Tracking it over time will tell if this has staying power, or if it’s just a fad. This way you’ll know just how much effort to put into it.

Analyze Media Coverage & Competitor Perception 

Though consumers form their own opinions, there’s no arguing that they’re influenced by what the media has to say – which is why your consumer research should include media coverage.

Media coverage is a critical element for competitive comparison. By tracking this kind of intel, you can identify events, storylines, and topics that are driving, and even defining, the public narrative of a competing brand. This will aid your team’s efforts in understanding what to amplify about your own company.

A competitor analysis also identifies subjects you may want to shy away from. Perhaps brand X misjudged their audience’s wants, and now their perception in the media has gone haywire in the worst of ways. You can learn from their mistakes using this intelligence.

Since consumer opinion/perception and media are so intertwined, a competitive comparison which analyzes media coverage, and the perception of the competition will play a central role in obtaining the whole picture on the brands to be aware of in your space.

Stay Informed of Shifts & Influencers

In marketing, you’re always reinventing the wheel, or perhaps just embellishing it a bit more. And sometimes, you’re creating new ways to use the wheel. It’s a constant evolution – and one that does not stop, nor does it slow down. And it’s not just you out there, it’s a whole world of companies vying for attention and watching this wheel. So, it helps to stay informed of product launches and events.

And then, sometimes, you just need a little lift. Locating a key opinion leader can be just as advantageous as a new product or event.

KOLs have the ability to give your brand a lift in the public and media eye, and therefore are an important part of your competitor analysis. Here, we have a KOL analysis which identifies top KOLs in the beauty frontier. Remember earlier when we mentioned that Hailey Bieber was seen wearing a sunburn cheek look? Well, look who is on our list of KOLs in the beauty trends conversation:


She’s certainly someone to align with when thinking about messaging and social posts online. You’ll want to track her and what she has to say about many things, including trending topics, to know when her views align with your company’s. And if so, a simple share of an article with her and her sunburn cheeks will help grab her fans’ attention and create a touchpoint on the road to building future loyal consumers.

Benchmark Your Relative Position

This isn’t a one-time thing. If you want to stay ahead of the pack, then you need to be continuously and consistently tracking any changes surrounding your brand. With new startups springing up all the time and smart competitors ready to jump in place where another brand is falling behind, you can’t afford to get complacent. You need to know not only how you’re doing, but how your competition is fairing as well.

Achieving social success calls for figuring out what’s average for brands in your industry and measuring your success against that, instead of just relying on your own performance over time.

Gathering and updating enough industry-wide competitive data to create benchmarks is an enormous effort. Rival IQ’s competitive analysis adds competitive context to all your social metrics with its always-on and exceptionally accurate benchmarks.


This constant analysis will keep you aware of any significant changes in the landscape and could highlight potential opportunity to take the lead!

When you’re ready for a competitive intelligence tool that is able to spy on the competition in a way that gives you the opportunity to stand out from the rest, reach out for a demo.

importance of competitive intelligence for brand strategy

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