In business, getting a leg up on the competition isn’t easy. And it’s made all the more difficult by the fact that, in most cases, everybody is trying to get an edge on the rest of the field.
Whether that manifests in competitive marketing campaigns, competitive pricing tactics, or even a race to hire the best personnel—companies in the same or overlapping verticals constantly outmaneuver and outposition one another to win customers. It’s nothing personal. It’s the fight that decides who thrives, who merely survives, and who folds.
Here at Crayon, we’re interested in the first subject. Our goal is to help businesses thrive by leveraging real-time intelligence to gain competitive advantages over the rest of the field. That results in greater market share, more revenue, and healthier business growth.
So, today, let’s explore five of our favorite competitive advantage examples and discuss how you can run with those examples to gain (or maintain) the upper hand in your vertical.
Let’s jump in.
1. “We have better reviews” (Tuft & Needle)
If you’ve ever purchased a new mattress, you know how cutthroat the industry is. There are four or five clear leaders in the clubhouse. They sell virtually identical products, and even their websites look like facsimiles. Because of these similarities, even the slightest product and marketing tweaks can help one mattress company win out over another.
This competitive mentality carries over into the world of paid search, where companies like Casper, Tuft & Needle, and Nectar all vie for awareness and traffic. You’ll find countless examples of competitive marketing in these search results. One of our favorites comes via the search “casper mattress”:
Not only is Tuft & Needle bidding on Casper’s brand term here; they’re deliberately and explicitly promoting a guide that explains why Tuft & Needle is superior to Casper. The callout? That they have better reviews and fewer complaints.
Click through to the landing page, and you’re directed to a complete guide describing the pros of Tuft & Needle mattresses next to the cons of Casper mattresses. Specifically, Tuft & Needle hammers home the fact that (1) the overwhelming majority of their customers love their mattresses and (2) they have the customer service chops to satisfy those who don’t.
Harping on product reviews and customer service is a phenomenal way to give your brand a competitive advantage over companies in your vertical. That’s why, here at Crayon, we help provide in-depth looks at the reviews of our customers’ closest competitors.
2. “Free, free, free” (TurboTax)
If you’ve watched any television in the past year, you’ve seen TurboTax’s Free, free, free commercials. These are essentially 30-second TV spots where TurboTax has people repeat the word “free” over and over again:
The result is an ad that isn’t exactly tactful, but sure does get its point across. Whether you find the concept amusing, annoying, or somewhere in between, the message is clear: TurboTax lets you do your taxes for free.
We love this competitive advantage example because it illustrates one of the most important stages of a messaging hierarchy: the positioning statement. The positioning statement, done well, states clearly and succinctly the one thing your brand does better than anybody else in the field. While TurboTax may offer a number of advantages over other tax tools, they’ve clearly landed on price as one of their most vital differentiators.
By positioning themselves as the best totally free tax tool on the market, and by drilling that concept into the brains of potential customers, TurboTax gives themselves a great opportunity to win over the budget-conscious consumer in the market for a DIY tax solution.
3. “Moving your service is easy” (Xfinity)
Speaking of price: Not everything in life is free, free, free, but it’d be nice if cable was!
If you’ve never called up your cable company and asked for a discount on a package or service based upon the prices of one of their competitors, you’re doing it wrong. A ton of competitive advantages in the cable industry are gained via competitive pricing. Which is why nearly every business in the vertical trains their customer service teams to be extremely sensitive to pricing requests.
At the end of the day, each cable company is selling a similar product. And every consumer is trying to get a deal. That’s why price is a huge differentiator.
Still, if you’ve tried or researched a few different internet/cable providers, you know there are functional differences between each product. One of Xfinity’s great features, for instance, is that it’s super easy (or supposed to be super easy) to move your service if you change addresses.
Xfinity harped on just that in a recent commercial called Moving Day.
We love this competitive advantage example because it incorporates one of our favorite components of competitive intelligence: understanding your competitors’ product features. When you have that intimate understanding of your competitors’ product-level features (like Crayon customers do), you can promote your own unique value propositions more effectively.
4. Price rigidity and prestige pricing (Ritz-Carlton)
Let’s talk a bit more about pricing, because so many businesses use it competitively to gain advantages. One of our favorite examples comes from this HBR article on competitive pricing.
In 1997, the travel industry in Southeast Asia was racked by forest fires. Luxury hotels in Malaysia responded by engaging in a price war. Each thought that, despite the already tight economic circumstances, they could salvage whatever revenue was left on the market by undercutting their competitors on pricing.
The Ritz-Carlton, led by general manager James McBride, chose to steer clear of the fray. Rather than dropping prices, the hotel created amenities like personalized greetings, discount coupons, and custom food and drink menus that appealed to luxury travelers. Rather than watering down the already dismal perception of Malaysia as a travel destination, the hotel increased their service offerings. The result: Not only was Ritz-Carlton’s Malaysia location able to stay afloat, but the Ritz was able to preserve brand equity across all their locations.
This is a classic example of price stickiness, or price rigidity. Price stickiness describes a company’s or an industry’s ability to maintain prices despite changes in market conditions. In this scenario, Ritz-Carlton smartly stayed true to their luxury pricing, and was able to win out by maintaining the integrity of their product/service.
This is also a great example of prestige pricing or premium pricing: pricing your product or service deliberately higher than the competition in order to achieve the appearance of higher quality. As we’ll discuss further in an upcoming post on competitive pricing: Prestige pricing works best when you are promoting a product that is, in fact, functionally or aesthetically superior to the rest of the field. While this example differs slightly, in that the Ritz didn’t set prices higher (they just didn’t lower them), the impact was the same. They offered a better service at a higher rate, and customers gladly consented, understanding that they were paying for the best product on the market.
5. Product innovation (Airbnb)
If you can’t tell, we’re pretty gung-ho on competitive pricing, which is why we’ve built pricing alerts into our product. Let’s leave pricing behind for a second, though, and talk about product innovation.
Airbnb has long been a trailblazer in the lodging industry. They put their own spin on a vertical that has traditionally been owned and operated by magnates, and opened it up to the everyday consumer. And while they’re constantly waging battles with regulators to determine where they can and cannot operate, they are also constantly innovating their platform to make it easier to use for travelers and hosts alike.
Take their most recent app update for 2021. Airbnb’s 2021 release introduced hundreds of new features designed to help hosts and travelers have a better experience this year. Features like “flexible destinations” (for people who just want to travel but don’t really care where to) and “personalized quick replies” (for hosts who want to respond quickly to oft-asked questions) cater to today’s consumer, not 2020’s.
We love this competitive advantage example because it illustrates the need for product innovation—specifically, the innovation that brands can initiate when they are (1) aware of changing market demands and (2) aware of the features their competitors do and do not offer.
Build a sustainable competitive advantage for your brand
We’ve talked a bit in this post about the suite of competitive intelligence tools we offer here at Crayon. Let’s make it clear: Our award-winning software solution can help you enjoy several—if not all—of the competitive advantages discussed here today.
Take a free spin through our product and learn how Crayon can help you compete like you mean it.
Topics: Competitive Intelligence