Building a sustainable competitive advantage requires the entrepreneur to constantly review the value chain of his company: from suppliers to the single steps of the production process, passing through the outlet markets, intended both as final customers and as companies with whom to ally to develop innovative products and services.
How do you build a sustainable competitive advantage? Why is my company chosen by customers over a competitor? Why do I attract talents? How can I engage investors to fund R&D that makes my products and services unique?
These are the questions that keep an entrepreneur awake at night.
Competitive advantage: determinants and the value of market research
Competitive advantage is usually determined by the uniqueness of the value offered to one’s customers and/or a competitive cost structure. But how can these elements be made long-lasting and defensible against the competition?
In a word: how to make them sustainable?
Let us try to assess the two determinants of competitive advantage separately.
The first one, i.e. the value differential, can be built through:
- the clear definition of the needs of the market segment at which our solution is aimed, enabling us to design a product with particular characteristics;
- the ability to provide additional services that make the product more user-friendly;
- the presence of unique technical features that make our product an irreplaceable component of our customer’s finished product.
These are just a few examples which, together with other elements, require careful observation of market needs.
Market analysis and research therefore become a crucial element not only to identify potential customers but, even before that, to intercept the needs to be satisfied through the definition of an offer with high added value. This offer can be made independently or together with strategic partners, and this leads us once again to a careful research activity: suppliers of specialised components, project companies, research bodies and much more.
With regard to the second factor, the cost structure, market analysis and the data obtained are an essential element for defining a correct strategy and its execution.
In addition to the specific skills within the company, the entrepreneur will have to identify new resources in the external environment with which to develop a more efficient production process, e.g. by using innovative machinery, identifying alternative raw materials or carrying out joint projects with selected customers and partners.
Market research: not just an operational asset
Market research is therefore not only of operational value, as could be the case for finding new customers or suppliers to cope with the logistical difficulties of this pandemic.
The definition of a sustainable competitive advantage, capable of withstanding the constant changes in the market, requires the formulation of precise strategies based on data and analytical observations. This activity must include:
- the identification of the geographical areas on which to focus the analysis;
- the subsequent definition of targets, be they customers, suppliers, partners or competitors;
- the contact activity aimed at building new business relationships.
At Matchplat we are implementing solutions that help companies to build a sustainable competitive advantage, redefining their value and cost differentials. How? By applying Artificial Intelligence to business information in order to offer automated analysis, reducing the time and costs involved in these activities.
We aim to make it easier to study and research the market to help our clients make the right decisions: a need every organisation faces in a rapidly changing environment.