Posted by: bbannan | April 12, 2011

Competitive Research – Frances

In Chapter 14, Kuniavsky provides an overview of competitive research stating that the same techniques used to research our own products come into play when we conduct research on the competition. He also emphasizes the importance of  knowing what the competition has done right as well as what they have done wrong.  The techniques listed to conduct a competitive analysis are recruiting, competitive contextual inquiry, focus groups, usability tests and surveys.

I would like to focus here on the importance of competitive intelligence. Competitive Intelligence (CI) provides a bird’s-eye view to allow for predictions and forecasting, facilitating design decision-making.  It’s a snapshot that to help you strategize against the competition. With competitive intelligence, you improve your strategy and performing better against competitors.  With competitive intelligence or competitive benchmarking, you gather enough to know what’s going on in a company but you do not have all the details, nor do you need them right away. You can gather enough information to draw a reasonable conclusion to act immediately.

Competitive intelligence helps companies  define and understand their industry and identify the competition’s strengths and weaknesses. When it’s done well, it can help a company anticipate moves and act swiftly.  An example of competitive intelligence gathering is when major airlines change their fares to respond to the competition.

With the internet, the rapidness at which an organization can gather competitive intelligence is astounding.  It has dramatically accelerated the speed at which companies can find competitive intelligence.  While digging for competitive intelligence, it is important to seek out information not readily available or which falls outside of the competitor’s realm–emerging technologies, non-customers, or unused markets. 

 A designer can learn more about the possible impact of the competitive intelligence gathered by asking users about it during the data collection stage. Perhaps it is an upcoming feature to a website or application which although not currently available, can be described in as much detail as possible to a user to get a reaction and anticipate its success or failure.

 Reference: Kuniavski, M. (2003). Observing the user experience. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.

 Interesting links:

 Keywords:  competitive user experience research, competitive intelligence, benchmarking



  1. That’s a great discussion Frances. It’s interesting to see how designers can cut time by looking at competitors’ success and failure and take it as a starting point for their design. That’s a very strategic user experience type of research.

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