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Beyond the Aisle: Why Defining Your Competition is More Than Just Shelf Placement

In today's market, understanding your competition is crucial for any business to succeed. However, the definition of competition is often oversimplified, which can lead to misguided marketing and product development decisions. It's important to take a step back and evaluate the consideration set and competitive set when defining your competition.

Consumers have a broader consideration set than what we typically consider as our competition in the industry. They are balancing their total pocketbook and the priorities of life when making purchase decisions. For instance, when looking at the air care category, Glade, Febreze, and AirWick are all in the aisle. Still, consumers also consider taking the garbage out, buying flowers, opening a window, or washing their floor with a cleaning product as a means of eliminating unpleasant odors.

To accurately define your competition, here are some tips to consider:

1. Evaluate traditional competitors as your business has historically defined them. This could be based on sales, market share, or industry categorization.

2. Look at buyer flow in and out of your categories. Where are shoppers coming from, and where are they going? This can help identify new and emerging competitors.

3. Conduct in-context consumer research to understand what's going on in their minds and how they are using products, as intended or unintended, to get their jobs done. This can uncover unexpected competitors and new opportunities for product development.

By understanding the consideration set and competitive set, businesses can develop a more accurate understanding of their market and consumer preferences. This information can help drive marketing and product development decisions that meet consumer needs and stand out from the competition. It's essential to take a step back and look at the broader context of the market to succeed in today's competitive landscape.


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