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What are some advanced techniques of UX Competitor Analysis and what is the number of competitors that must be analyzed to have relevant results and get enough data to create a solid product? Also, how complex it should be? My main concern is to have a never-ending list with the data that is hard to interpret.

According to Nielsen Norman Group’s “User Experience Careers” survey report, 61% of UX professionals prefer to do the competitive analysis for their projects and the benefits of carrying out this type of analysis are obvious, but are few resources of how complex this research should be and how to find info that really matters.

Besides the unique features, how do you identify user loyalty and engagement in the apps of our competitors and find out if their approach really works?

How to take advantage of this method when your product needs to be the first on the market and not only in a small niche and also if the type of business is in a relatively new domain of activity?

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There are two similar techniques/methods that often get mentioned in the same conversation, and they have both been adapted from different disciplines and used by UX researchers to gather information about the users and the problem to be solved.

A - Competitive/Competitor analysis

As the name suggests, it is about doing research on 'competitors', or companies with products or services in the exact same market category or customer base. There are similar research performed by This is important to try and understand the variation in the product/service features and customers that your own products and services are competing with. The analysis itself doesn't need to be complex (and shouldn't be considering the audience), but it needs to be clear about the assumptions and conclusions you are making based on the information collected.

B - Comparative analysis

This one comes from the type of analysis performed in a few different disciplines, and the primary focus is on the feature comparison of the product or service (which don't necessarily have to come from the same industry) to try and find the different ways in which a particular problem is solved (e.g. price comparison feature). Again the analysis itself doesn't need to be complex, as long as you can be clear about what you are compared and the source of the information that you have used in the research and analysis.

I think that a competitor analysis benefits from having the perspective of a comparative analysis (and vice versa), and I would suggest that it is an 'advanced' technique of doing UX competitor analysis.

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I hope this will simplify the formula for the different analysis types so that you can choose and customize your technique for whichever domain/objectives you want to achieve.

This builds up on Michael Lai's answer so please refer to it first.


There are two angles/approaches for a competitor analysis, the first is exploratory and the second is comparative.

Exploratory Approach

In the exploratory approach - which Michael referred to as Competitor Analysis - the idea is to explore your competitors looking for insights, these can be strengths, channels, markets, ideas, features or anything else depending on the domain/scope of your analysis - will come back to this part in a bit.

Comparative Approach

In the Comparative approach, you already know what you are looking for, you just want to compare between how each of the candidates implements or performs those aspects.

The reason we say here candidates instead of competitors is that they are not necessarily competitors, a checkout process can be compared between two e-commerce platforms, one that sells cars and other sells potatoes, they are not really competitors still there might still be a great value to compare between them, in fact this is where interesting inspirations are typically found.

One addition within the Comparative approach, if you assign a list of metrics and a scoring criteria for your comparison, you can eventually sum them up to a total score for each of the candidates, this is when you start referring to the analysis as a Competitor Benchmark.

You might notice for the Competitor Benchmark, we went back to use the term "Competitor" instead of Candidate, why? simply because you don't usually want to benchmark non-competitors, Gmail vs Stack-exchange? it sort of does not make any real value or relevancy to do so.

Scope of Analysis

Back to the scope of analysis part, the approaches that mentioned earlier are not exclusive to domain UX, Marketing, Business or anything else, the scope is simply the focus areas.

If you are performing an analysis for UX, within the exploratory approach you are looking for insights for the UX, in a digital product these could be interaction patterns, flows, design decision, user needs, features (in some cases)...

In a comparative approach, you could be comparing between user flows, feature utility, feature simplicity...

In a benchmark, you could be looking for 3-click rule, user satisfaction rates, load time...


One last note

Personally, I sometimes feel that the namings of those activities are confusing the way they are known, to make sense out things, i choose to secretly rename them in my mind:

  • Similarity Analysis (The big category, people refer to it as competitor analysis)
    • Exploratory Analysis (Explores competitors, People also refer to it as competitor analysis, this is the confusion)
    • Comparative Analysis (Compares competitors and other similar candidates)
      • Benchmark Analysis (Compares competitors with a scoring criteria)

This structure informs the approaches of each analysis type, and allows to prepend the domain with them, so we can add UX, Market, or whatever domain you are using it for.

  • UX Similarity Analysis
    • UX Exploratory Analysis
    • UX Comparative Analysis
      • UX Benchmark Analysis
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When you mention a solid product, I imagine you mean that you'd like to create a product that can satisfy the essential user needs, that are already being fulfilled by the competition.

Number of competitors

I think you should have enough competitors in your analysis to be able to form groups so that you can not only understand the characteristics of each group but also be able to compare them against each other. Having groups would help you better understand where'd you think your product could fit and where you wouldn't want to compete. Doing this without having groups is more complicated, as focusing on the features of a single competitor might cause us to miss the bigger picture.

How complex should it be?

I think it all depends on the strategic intent behind the analysis. How much do you need to know to have enough confidence to take the next step? How certain do you need to be? How will you achieve that level of confidence outside of competition analysis?

Identifying user loyalty and engagement

Now, this is a tricky one, but there are a few ways you could look into this. A loyal user is less likely to churn or switch to the competition. If they are actively searching or getting information on alternatives, that means they might not be too loyal. Now, targetting those specific audiences is hard. Ideally, you'd have a list of current users of an app; it might be from a user group, or you created a survey and collected that data. If those aren't available, there are Twitter ads that allow you to target followers of competitors. Now, you can create a campaign that doesn't necessarily talk about your product but could be of value for someone comparing options within your industry. Once you have enough traffic, try to find a pattern, is there a specific group that had a higher engagement with your content? What parts were they interested in particular? The quality of the content you put out will determine the value of the data collected by the campaign, so make sure it does relate to the audience needs.

Being first in the market

Problems never change, and whatever problem your product is solving, will most probably have an existing solution, even if not optimal. The same methods will apply, as long as you understand the underlying needs and identify the set of solutions your potential users are relying on to fulfill their needs.

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