The following blog post was written by Zach Shaw, Panel Associate at RMS.

Knowing your competition is important, whether you’re starting a new business, revamping an old one, or rolling out a new service. Every good business plan should be created with their competitors in mind; it’s the best way to take a closer look at what your competition is doing and why. For businesses that are just starting out, a knowledgeable market research company can perform a competitive analysis in order to give you a better understanding of the competition in your industry and within your target market. For businesses that are revamping or rolling out new products, a competitive analysis will help you stay up to date with trends, new market segments, product innovation, and taking a look at best practices.

In the competitive analysis, the researcher will explore the “who, what, where and how” of that industry. This differs depending on the industry. For example, if you were a college trying to analyze your prospective position in the education market, you would want to understand the regional competition and the institutions competing for students, the “who”. Identifying competitive institutions with similar degree/certification programs (the “what” is what they’re offering) that are in the same state or region (the “where”). The research will also explore the “how” – the strengths and weaknesses of the institution as it compares to competitors. The researcher may investigate the distinctive features, program composition, credit hour requirements, branding and marketing tactics, subject matter specializations and target audiences, and/or tuition/fee schedules among competitors (“how” they offer the program). In the end, the research should be able to help you locate opportunities that may be available to you.  In summary, a competitive analysis will help you create and implement a stronger business plan that understands the industry needs and trends, allowing you to gain a strong foothold in the market.  A knowledgeable market research firm should be able to tell you:

  • Who your competitors are
  • What makes them competition
  • Where they’re located
  • How they do it (offer the service of interest)

RMS is a full-service market research firm and has performed competitive analyses for a wide array of industries. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at or by calling 1-866-567-5422.