A quick guide to competitor survey research

A competitor survey can reveal useful insights to help you grow your market share. In particular, it can help you to answer the questions “Who are you going to win share from?” and “How are you going to do it?”

Nowadays a competitor survey can be run more quickly and easily than ever before. This is mainly due to the growing supply of potential respondents, especially in the B2C arena.

How a competitor survey works

Typically a competitor survey would be run online, rather than face-to-face or by phone for example. This is mainly because of the cost advantages. And usually it is best undertaken by a research agency, rather than by the client themselves. This is partly because respondents will be less likely to be honest and forthcoming to the client company than to an independent research agency.

That’s not to say that the research agency has to undertake all stages of the survey. For example, questionnaire design or analysis of results could be undertaken by the client, with the agency just managing the operation of the survey.

Either way, once the questionnaire has been designed it then needs to be scripted (programmed online, in other words). The questionnaire will need to include various demographic questions (age, gender, etc…) and “screener” questions. Screeners are designed to identify those respondents who do, and do not, qualify to complete the survey. For example, they may need to shop at particular stores or buy particular brands (your competitors) in order to qualify. Anyone who does not will be screened out of the survey, so that only those who meet your criteria are allowed to finish the questionnaire. Screener questions need to be designed carefully in order to ensure that they are effective.

Once the online questionnaire has been scripted, the next stage is fieldwork which involves invitations being sent by email to prospective respondents. Usually a small number of invitations are sent in the first instance. This is known as a soft launch, and it is designed to act as a final check that the online questionnaire is completely correct, before the main launch of the survey. After the soft launch the main fieldwork is undertaken, until the desired sample size has been achieved. Once fieldwork has been completed the final stage is the analysis and interpretation of the results.

The respondents for a competitor survey can be recruited from the client’s own customer database, but usually they would be recruited from external sources. A survey might be undertaken on a standalone basis, or it might be preceded (or followed) by focus groups. Focus groups can be run online, and they are designed for exploratory research, to help inform the design of the survey questionnaire or to undertake follow-up in-depth research with particular survey respondents.

To find out more about running a competitor survey, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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