Why bother to analyse competitors? Some businesses think it is best to get on with their own plans and ignore the competition. Others become obsessed with tracking the actions of competitors (often using underhand or illegal methods). Many businesses are happy simply to track the competition, copying their moves and reacting to changes. Competitor analysis has several important roles in strategic planning: • To help management understand their competitive advantages/disadvantages relative to competitors • To generate understanding of competitors’ past, present (and most importantly) future strategies • To provide an informed basis to develop strategies to achieve competitive advantage in the future • To help forecast the returns that may be made from future investments (e.g. how will competitors respond to a new product or pricing strategy? Questions to ask What questions should be asked when undertaking competitor analysis? The following is a useful list to bear in mind: • Who are our competitors? (see the section on identifying competitors further below) • What threats do they pose? • What is the profile of our competitors? • What are the objectives of our competitors? • What strategies are our competitors pursuing and how successful are these strategies? • What are the strengths and weaknesses of our competitors? • How are our competitors likely to respond to any changes to the way we do business?