By Heather Newman
One of the most important things you can do as a marketer during uncertain economic times is to redefine how you view your competitors. In an economic downturn, consumers will reevaluate their purchasing habits and look for ways to cut costs. Doing so, consumers will think outside industry boundaries for cost-efficient solutions.
The best way to combat losing customers is by viewing your competitors like your customers do. Of course, you already know quite a bit about your direct competitors: how they price their items; what products or services they offer; how your products or services differ from theirs; what campaigns they are running; etc.
However, what you should be thinking about is how a customer could completely avoid your product category by purchasing from an indirect competitor. Indirect competitors are those companies who offer a product or service that isn’t the same as yours but could be a viewed as substitute. If you see sales drop, think about how you can redirect attention back to your product category. Remind your customers of the value your category brings that they will lose if they chose the substitute.
If sales aren’t dropping for your product or service, think about how the inverse scenario could benefit your organization. Could your product turn into a substitute for another more expensive industry category? Think about how you could be drawing in these new consumers.
Regardless of whether your organization is worried about competing with indirect competitors or fostering its position as a substitute for another product or service, be sure to broaden who you think is a “competitor”.