Competition is Healthy

When a new product was launched by a company with a large amount of clout and marketing power, a project I was working on had its management team move into crisis mode fairly quickly. The competing product, at first glance, seemed to compete directly with the product we were building, which raised the question as to whether or not we should cut losses immediately, or persevere with the development.

Upon consideration, however, it was decided that development would continue, though the focus of the project, and how it would be marketed to potential consumers, would need to change. After all, the features of the product were sufficiently different from what the competition was offering, to the point that there was little concern as to whether those features would appear in future versions of the competing product.

That being said, the few hours of crisis during which there was uncertainty about the future of the product was extremely beneficial to the product. Everyone involved had to reflect on what exactly the project we were working on was trying to achieve. Everyone had to get more focused on what set us apart.

Competition does that – when competing with many other products, the differences may be price, features, availability, marketing spin. When competing on new products, the differences may go deeper than that, dealing with different needs, different consumer bases, or even different approaches to the same problem. The more prevalent the competition is in your market, the more carefully you will be forced to examine your customers, and why they buy from you rather than from anyone else.

Likewise, you will have to pay better attention to what gives you an edge in a certain market – what are the true barriers to someone else entering your market? Is it actually surmountable, or have you created, by way of completely filling a need, made the concept of competition irrelevant?

While making competition irrelevant may lead to lawsuits under anti-trust laws, it is the place where many businesses would like to be. Offer something so unique, and available to everyone who needs it no matter their location, at a price they can all afford, and the competition will have no reason to exist. After all, any consumer will already be shopping from you, and are happy to stay with the established status quo rather than risk jumping to a new-comer.

In your business, are you looking for ways in which you can consolidate your customer base and build loyalty so that there is little reason for them to move to an alternative? Or are you focused on the growth of your business today, with little thought to the longevity of your business, especially in light of the fact that there eventually will be competition to any business which does not properly care for its consumers.