How important is B2B competitor analysis?

Regardless of the industry in which your company operates and its size, it is an activity with strategic value.

It can be carried out before entering new markets, to understand opportunities (and risks) related to the presence of other companies.

But that’s not all: analyzing the competition is also useful for obtaining an up-to-date overview of the markets in which you already operate.

Let’s see how why and how B2B companies can make the best out of this process.

Analisi della concorrenza: perchè svolgerla se sei un'azienda B2B | immagine di un manager e di un graficoAnalyzing the competition: why do it if you are a B2B company

The competitive environment companies move in is not static. Observation of today’s market shows how radical transformations, innovations and changes are the order of the day.

The principle affects not only consumers with their buying habits, but also the companies themselves.

The preferences, expectations and goals of our corporate customers change: this is why analyzing competitors is also crucial for B2B businesses.

Only in this way, in fact, is it possible to understand how companies like ours are moving, and what steps they are taking to go along with (or anticipate) changes in the market.

The principle applies both to markets in which we are already present and to those in which we wish to enter.

In the first case, we may already know our competitors, but in a globalized economy, the picture is much broader, and at any moment a company from another country could break through and jeopardize our strategy.

In the second case, as already mentioned, innovations and new solutions are coming faster and faster from the companies we deal with every day. Knowing them is the first step to not be caught unprepared.

But what are the factors to consider for a B2B competitive analysis?

Factors you should consider

Knowing direct competitors

Direct competitors are all those who offer a product/service equivalent to that of our company, within the same geographic areas, using overlapping processes and technologies, with similar sales and service processes.

An example from the B2B world might be that of a construction equipment manufacturer operating through a network of agents and distributors in Europe and the U.S., competing with other manufacturers of rock cutters and asphalt grinders.

The company also offers the possibility of long-term rental of machines; its direct competitors will therefore be companies in Europe and the U.S., which combine sales through retailers with the possibility of equipment rental.

Knowing the indirect competitors

To understand who the competitors are, it is necessary to broaden the perspective, going beyond companies that offer products and services similar to ours.

An indirect competitor could be a company that, while not making the same products, has the technology and know-how to enter the same market as us. Alternatively, an indirect competitor may meet the needs of the same customer segments as ours, though with a different offering.

Let’s better understand with some examples.

Returning to construction equipment, an indirect competitor to our company may be a manufacturer of agricultural equipment (such as tractor mulchers) that decides to develop a line of surface milling and asphalt crushing machines.

Let’s switch industries and consider an olive oil producer who sells to wholesalers active in the restaurant business. An indirect competitor may be a sunflower oil producer with the same target audience, since the two oils-while different-can meet similar needs.

I parametri per valutare i concorrenti nel B2B | Immagine di un meeting tra manager con una scrivania, tablet, PC per confrontarsi sull'analisi della concorrenza

The criteria for evaluating competitors

Regardless of the type, it is necessary to identify criteria on which to base the evaluation of your competitors.

Whether direct or indirect competitors, you will need to consider:

  • The business model.
  • The channels of customer acquisition.
  • Pricing policies.
  • The financial performance.
  • The customer care and retention strategies adopted.
  • The communication and advertising strategy, online and offline, both brand and product.
  • The online positioning on search engines.

These are some examples of elements to study carefully when conducting a competitive analysis in B2B.

Of course, before comparing a company’s business model, pricing policies or financial status with our own, there is another question to answer.

Who are my direct and indirect competitors?

It might seem obvious, but without first mapping the market, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to really understand how your competitors are doing, what their characteristics are, how they communicate and what results they are achieving.

Easy said, but not done.

Globalization, the multiplication of sales channels (online and offline) and the advancement of the digital technologies used also put B2B companies in front of a scenario in which understanding who yours competitors are can be extremely complicated, if not impossible, especially when it comes to indirect competitors.

Therefore, a specific one should be added to the question we have formulated:

Who are my competitors, direct and indirect, capable of posing a real threat?

Again, an answer to this question is not immediate, but certainly the mapping of the market is less complex.

In fact, it is a matter of identifying only those companies that can actually undermine our results with their strategies.

Going back to the construction equipment manufacturer, a competitor to watch out for is definitely a company of the same size-in terms of employees and turnover-located in one of the countries where the company is also present, with a similar production capacity.

If, for example, the company were to have a turnover of more than 200 million euros and four production sites, hardly another company with only one location and a turnover of 50 could pose a real risk.

Now we come to the most important question:

How do I find my competitors?

There are several solutions to this, each with advantages and disadvantages. Let’s see which ones.

Individuare i concorrenti: soluzioni tradizionali | Immagine di una folla di manager durante una fiera in un padiglioneIdentifying competitors: traditional solutions

Traditionally, the study of competitors takes place both offline and online.

An example of offline B2B competitor analysis is provided by trade shows.

Visiting booths, collecting brochures, attending product presentations and workshops are ways to stay up-to-date on the state of the art in your market.

This helps you understand how your competitors are doing, what innovations they are introducing and how they are presenting themselves.

However, this is a partial analysis.

In fact, not all factors related to a competitor can be studied during a trade show; moreover, it’s not certain that all of our company’s potential competitors are present, or that the companies encountered have the characteristics to be a competitor.

Communication via social media, pricing, e-commerce channels and financial data can only be assessed through online research, platforms, or external consulting.

That is why it is necessary to integrate different sources of information.

However, even the solutions we have listed have limitations:

  • Online searches yield dispersive results, and it is necessary to check hundreds of websites to try to figure out whether the companies found may be our competitors. In addition, much data-such as financial data-is not accessible with a simple Google search.
  • Platforms to access databases of companies, while integrating a lot of information (financial, industry, etc.), often have national covers that make it more complex to compare competitors from different countries.
  • Consulting services from specialized companies have high costs, and are consequently out of reach for SMEs. They can be very in-depth, but relying on different sources, they involve rather long lead times.

Studiare i concorrenti nel B2B grazie all'AI | Immagine di un meeting tra managerStudying competitors in B2B with AI

For these reasons, in Matchplat we have developed Explore, a single solution for identifying direct and indirect competitors. Worldwide, in a short time and with the most important features.

But how?

  • By leveraging a database with over 400 million companies in 196 countries: Explore starts with information from institutional sources to provide the broadest possible overview of the market. Thus on the one hand it overcomes the limitations of databases with national coverage, and on the other hand it expands the opportunities for B2B competitive analysis offered by trade shows.
  • Valuing companies’ online content: Explore does not limit itself to the information in its database, but cross-references it with companies’ websites and their content to offer up-to-date information. All thanks to AI algorithms, thus reducing the time spent on search engines.
  • Offering the possibility to customize searches: through the inclusion of specific keywords, Explore allows us to identify only those companies that could jeopardize our strategy as competitors. Specific processes, products, certifications, but also financial data: this and much more can be known quickly, cutting down on the effort required to check different sources.
  • Using technology to make B2B competitor analysis accessible to everyone: Artificial Intelligence makes the study of competitors within the reach of even SMEs, both in terms of cost and usability. Indeed, the technology makes it possible to cut costs but also to simplify a complex task, without having to possess the expertise of market analysis consulting firms.

Find your competitors in 196 countries now.

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Conclusions

We have seen how competitor analysis can be carried out both in new markets and in those in which you already operate.

The criteria to keep in mind when evaluating a competitor are numerous: they range from its communication to its products, passing through data such as turnover and number of employees. Competitors can be divided into two groups: direct and indirect.

The former have an offer similar to that of our company, while the latter may produce substitute goods or possess the necessary requirements to enter our market (for example, the know-how to develop a specific technology).

The first step to take is to identify the companies that can really threaten our strategies, either directly or indirectly.

In today’s complex market, figuring out who they are is a real challenge.

There are many different solutions to simplify this process. They range from visits to trade shows to “manually” map competitors to buying consultancy from specialized companies through lengthy online research.

Analyzing markets to find competitors today is made easier by digital technologies. At Matchplat we have automated the task by combining a worldwide database of companies with AI algorithms.

This reduces the time and cost of traditional solutions for analyzing B2B competitors.