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A Guide to Competitive Benchmarking (With Example Metrics)


Competitive benchmarking helps organizations gain a competitive edge in their respective industries. Analyzing and comparing key metrics with industry peers helps companies identify best practices, uncover performance gaps, and seize growth opportunities. 

This guide will walk you through every step, from selecting relevant metrics and establishing goals to implementing effective strategies that drive continuous improvement.

Whether you operate in a highly competitive market or seek to enhance operational efficiency, the practical tips in this guide will empower you to benchmark your performance and make data-driven decisions that propel your business forward.

What Is Competitive Benchmarking?

Competitive benchmarking is a strategic process businesses use to assess their performance and compare it to their competitors. This type of benchmarking plays a critical role in gaining a competitive edge in the marketplace by identifying industry best practices, analyzing market trends, and gaining insights into competitor strategies.

At its core, competitive benchmarking consists of evaluating key metrics and areas of comparison to determine where a business stands in relation to its competitors. These metrics vary depending on the industry and the specific goals of the benchmarking initiative. Some metrics include customer satisfaction ratings, market share, and product quality.

Businesses can perform competitive benchmarking using different methods, including primary research, such as gathering data about competitors through surveys, interviews, or observations, or secondary research, which involves analyzing publicly available information such as financial reports, industry publications, and customer reviews. In some cases, businesses may also engage in collaborative benchmarking, where they work with competitors to share information and collectively improve industry standards.

The insights gained from competitive benchmarking can help organizations better understand their strengths and weaknesses. By recognizing and understanding areas for improvement, they can set realistic performance targets and develop strategies to tighten the gap.

Competitive Benchmarking vs. Competitive Analysis

Competitive benchmarking and competitive analysis are both valuable for gaining insights into a company’s position relative to their competitors. While they share some similarities, there are significant differences between the two approaches.

Competitive benchmarking helps businesses compare their performance and practices against their competitors. It involves identifying industry best practices, analyzing market trends, and evaluating key metrics. The primary goal of competitive benchmarking is to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement, allowing an organization to set realistic performance targets and develop strategies to gain a competitive edge.

On the other hand, competitive analysis involves an examination of the broader competitive landscape to identify potential threats and opportunities and make informed decisions about market positioning and differentiation.

Examples of Competitive Benchmarking Metrics

Competitive benchmarking metrics offer businesses a means to measure and compare their performance against competitors in their industry. 

Financial Metrics

Financial metrics are essential for analyzing and comparing the performance of competitors. Publicly available financial reports can provide insights into the performance of other businesses within the same industry. One crucial financial metric to consider is revenue growth. Analyzing revenue growth can help understand a competitor's growth trajectory and financial health.

Customer Metrics

Customer metrics evaluate a competitor's customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. Researchers can collect information from customer surveys and online reviews to determine how customers perceive competitors' products, services, and overall customer experience. 

Net Promoter Score (NPS) can also help gauge the likelihood of customers recommending a competitor to others.

Marketing Metrics

Businesses can use market research data, surveys, or industry reports to assess their competitors' brand awareness and recognition. 

Engagement metrics, website traffic, and social media followers can all be used to analyze customer engagement. Third-party analytics tools can help you research competitor customer engagement levels. Examples of these tools include RivalIQ, BrandWatch, and others. 

Product and Service Metrics

To gain insight into customer feedback and ratings on competitors' products or services, researchers can explore public customer reviews and feedback. These ratings allow businesses to evaluate how customers perceive their competitors' offerings regarding quality and performance. 

Innovation rate is another vital metric to track, which involves monitoring the frequency or number of new products or services introduced by competitors within a specific timeframe. Companies can use this metric to discover opportunities to adapt to changing market trends and use these tactics themselves.

Furthermore, analyzing competitors' marketing materials, website content, or product descriptions allows researchers to identify unique features, attributes, or value propositions. Lastly, examining forums and social media platforms provides insights into warranty claims and customer complaints, helping researchers monitor competitors' performance in addressing customer concerns and identifying potential areas for improvement.

Choosing Competitors to Benchmark Against

When deciding which competitors to benchmark against, it is essential to evaluate various factors to ensure relevance and effectiveness. Here are fundamental considerations to guide your selection process:

  • Identify direct competitors: Start with businesses that offer similar products or services. These direct competitors typically target the same customer base and operate in the same market, making them primary candidates for benchmarking.
  • Consider market leaders: Look at the market leaders or industry giants. These organizations often set the standards and best practices within the industry.
  • Analyze regional competitors: Account for competitors that operate within the same geographical region as your business. Regional competitors often better understand local market dynamics and customer preferences.
  • Look for emerging competitors: Keep an eye on up-and-coming companies that show disruption potential in the industry. Benchmarking against emerging competitors enables you to stay proactive, identify new trends, and prepare for shifts in the competitive landscape.
  • Account for company size: Consider competitors similar in size to your organization, as they may face similar challenges and resource constraints.
  • Seek diversity in the benchmarking pool: Include companies from different regions, market segments, and business models in your benchmarking pool. A diverse benchmarking pool offers a broader perspective and helps identify more opportunities and strategies to explore.
  • Consider customer perception: Choose competitors that enjoy positive customer perception. Understanding what resonates well with customers can inform your customer-focused initiatives.

Competitive benchmarking is essential in today's highly competitive business world. 

Step 1: Define Your Objectives 

Start by clearly defining the goals and objectives you want to achieve. Consider the criteria you want to compare against your competitors. For instance, if your goal is to improve customer satisfaction, your objective might be to benchmark your customer service performance against industry leaders. Determine the scope and timeline of your benchmarking project to ensure a focused and efficient approach.

Example: Let's say you own a restaurant and want to improve your online presence. Your objective could be to benchmark the number of online reviews for your company against top competitors in your area within a three-month timeframe.

Step 2: Identify Key Competitors

To find key competitors within your industry or market segment, consider both direct competitors, as well as indirect competitors who are operating in the same market but targeting different customer segments. Plan how you will analyze their market position, strengths, weaknesses, and market share to gain insights.

Example: In the restaurant industry, your key competitors may include nearby restaurants offering a similar cuisine or those targeting a similar customer base. To understand their performance, you would analyze their websites, social media presence, and customer reviews.

Step 3: Determine KPIs and Areas of Comparison

Choose the key performance indicators (KPIs) you wish to benchmark against your competitors. Ensure that the chosen metrics align with your objectives and are relevant within your industry. You can leverage surveys to gather customer perceptions, preferences, and satisfaction levels for benchmarking against competitors.

Example: For the restaurant's online presence benchmarking, you may choose KPIs such as social media followers and average ratings from customer reviews. You may also look at search engine rankings to see which keywords they rank for relative to your position for the same keywords. 

Step 4: Gather Your Data

Collect data from various sources to acquire insights about your competitors. These sources may include industry publications, competitor websites, customer feedback, etc. Utilize surveys, interviews, or focus groups to gather specific insights or opinions from customers and industry experts.

Example: You could conduct surveys among your customers to gather feedback on their experiences at other restaurants and brand awareness of other vendors in your area.

Step 5: Analyze and Interpret the Findings 

Review the collected data, including the survey responses, to obtain meaningful insights. Using the chosen KPIs, compare your performance to that of your competitors. Determine areas of strength, weaknesses, and opportunities based on the benchmarking results.

Example: Compare social media engagement metrics to see how your restaurant's presence measures up. Compare your company's strengths and weaknesses to competitors, such as high customer satisfaction ratings and fewer social media followers.

Step 6: Plan & Implement Data-Driven Improvements

Based on the insights gained from the benchmarking analysis, develop action plans and strategies. Prioritize areas that require improvement or optimization. Think of innovative approaches to enhance your business performance while remembering to account for the data-driven insights you have obtained through the benchmarking process. 

Remember, this is an ongoing cycle that doesn't happen overnight but can be an annual regular project to ensure continuous improvement.

Example: You want to increase your social media engagement based on the benchmarking findings. To that end, you might increase your social media marketing budget or employ new tactics such as social media advertising. 

Maximize Your Competitive Edge with IntelliSurvey

Ready to embark on your competitive benchmarking journey and gather valuable insights that drive your business forward? 

Ensure that your competitive benchmarking survey has fully engaged respondents by enlisting the help of IntelliSurvey. Our professional and reliable market research services, backed by a tenured team of research operations professionals, will ensure your benchmarking survey is executed seamlessly. Contact us today for more details.

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