Competitive analysis

Yaroslav Zhmikhov
Yaroslav Zhmikhov
488 October, 26, 2021 3 min read
488 October, 26, 2021 3 min read


A process that will help evaluate direct and indirect competitors to gain a complete understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, which will help you gain a competitive advantage over them.

Competitors are usually divided into 3 main groups: direct, indirect, and potential competitors:

  • Primary (direct competitors) are companies that offer the same or similar products or services to the same consumer groups, such as iOS and Android (both products provide essentially the same services).
  • Secondary (indirect competitors) are companies that sell similar or different products to the same consumers, but differently (perhaps with less functionality), such as Meta Messenger and Slack (in both products, people can chat with each other).
  • Tertiary (replacement competitors) are companies that can expand their line of products, services, or apply new technology to better satisfy their customers, and become your direct competitors in the future, such as DSLR cameras and iPhone (both are quality products for photo and video filming).

Competitive analysis is the identification of competitors and the evaluation of their strategies, which will allow you to determine the strengths and weaknesses in comparison with your product, service, or idea that has not yet been implemented.

To summarize, competitive analysis helps us understand:

  • What our competitors offer.
  • What is their monetization?
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the product. This will allow us to compare them with our capabilities.
  • Helps to identify types of customers and how those customers, who use competitors’ products, solve their problems.

An example of competitive analysis for an online e-learning platform where the goal is to evaluate the usability of the user interface

An example of competitive analysis for an online e-learning platform where the goal is to evaluate the usability of the user interface

An example of competitive analysis for an art gallery where the goal is to analyze all features

An example of competitive analysis for an art gallery where the goal is to analyze all features

The purpose of competitive analysis

Increase product knowledge, soberly assess the strengths and weaknesses of competitors, identify threats, gaps in products or services, and generate new ideas, and find new business opportunities to gain a competitive advantage.

Value for the team

It will help you to see the following things:

  • What services do your competitors provide?
  • What functionality do they use to solve the problems of their users?
  • Evaluate this functionality using heuristics to see errors made and assess usability to design the best solution.

Recommendation: do not blindly copy all the decisions of your competitors, try to understand “Why did they do this?” For example, there are 2 seemingly identical products, but some solution works in one, and not in the other. Think about it.

Value for business

A well-researched competitive analysis will help businesses understand what our competitors are offering and how we can create a better product in the marketplace with broader offerings that address a wider range of needs.


  • Preparation: up to 30 minutes
  • Main activity: from 2 to 4 hours to evaluate each competitor

Creating process:

If you are very lucky, you can find ready-made “Preparatory & Secondary research (Desk research)”, I wrote about this before. The studies or reports you find may contain competitive analysis.

Recommendation: check the data you find, as it may not be professionally done or may not correspond to reality due to outdated data.

Step 1: Goal setting

You can’t just go ahead and do a competitive analysis.

Every study is done for a reason.

Ask yourself and the team:

  • Why do you need to conduct a competitive analysis?
  • What do you want to achieve and what do you want to get as a result of competitive analysis?

Step 2. List your competitors

How to do it? Everything is very simple. At the “Preparatory & Secondary research (Desk research)” and “Kick-off meeting & Stakeholder interviews” stages, you must find competitors, and if you couldn’t do it yourself, then ask the stakeholders a question:

  • Who are your direct, indirect, and potential competitors?
  • Why do you think so? Explain your point of view.

Stakeholders are the main source of knowledge, since most of them do a lot of market research before applying to the company.

If you are told that there are no competitors, then this is not entirely true. There are always competitors, perhaps the stakeholders simply do not know about them.

If for some reason you have not found out about your competitors, and you can no longer do it, for example, a client has set a task for you, and will not be available for communication within the next 2 weeks, then you need to:

  • Prepare a list of keywords for search queries related to the industry you want to analyze.
  • is the first starting point. All searches must be done in “incognito mode” so that the search engine does not take into account your previous searches. Also, check the promotional search results.

Recommendation: Use Google Advanced Search.

  • Also, use such excellent services for finding competitors as SimilarwebCrunchbaseTrustpilot, etc., and for mobile applications, use Google Play and Apple Store.

Recommendation: analyze the reviews of the found competitors.

Step 3. Create a table, start analyzing features and recording data

Additional explanation: if you need to analyze only the user registration process, then the table will not have the same structure as the analysis of the full product with all its sections, etc.

Everything that you will analyze and record in the table depends only on your goals. Unfortunately, there is no universal method.

A feature is a special function, an unusual property, a "chip", that is, something that is of value to the user.

  1. If the purpose of the analysis is to analyze the entire product of a competitor, then you need to create a table in which you can record not only the features of competitors, but also interface elements, such as filtering and sorting content, the ability to order goods in “1 click”, tariff plans and their appreciation, etc., such things can be noted in the table with simple marks: yes, no, no, or give a short description.
  2. If the purpose of the analysis is to evaluate the convenience of the user interface, then you can use this legend for this:
  • Lack of necessary — 0 points.
  • Poorly implemented — 1 point.
  • Normally implemented — 2 points.
  • Perfectly implemented — 3 points.

Note: Use Jakob Nielsen’s heuristics to evaluate the usability of the user interface.

Example: Competitive analysis

OTAKOYI UX design program:

Stage 1. Business research:

  • Step 1. Preparatory & Secondary research (Desk research)
  • Step 2. Kick-off meeting & Stakeholder interviews
  • Step 3. Business model canvas (BMC)
  • Step 4. Competitive analysis
  • Step 5. SWOT analysis
  • Step 6. Business process model and notation 2.0+ (BPMN)

Stage 2. User research:

  • Step 7. User interviews (based on proto-persona) & Hypothesis
  • Step 8. Focus groups
  • Step 9. Surveys
  • Step 10. Empathy mapping (uncovering insights & identifying needs)
  • Step 11. User personas
  • Step 12. Point of view (POV) — Problem statement & How might we (HMW) questions

Stage 3. Strategy phase:

  • Step 13. Business & User Goals
  • Step 14. Value proposition canvas (VPC) — additional POVs and value descriptions
  • Step 15. Customer journey map (CJM)
  • Step 16. Service blueprint

Stage 4. Ideation phase:

  • Step 17. Ideation (Six thinking hats, Brainstorming & The Walt Disney creativity strategy)

Stage 5. Design:

  • Step 18. Prioritization
  • Step 19. User flows & Task flow
  • Step 20. Information architecture
  • Step 21. Wireframing

Stage 6. Test:

  • Step 22. UX testing methods