17 minutesBy Canva Team

Competitor analysis: How-tos, templates, and tips

Whether you’re launching a product or restructuring your strategy, competitor research is vital. With our guide and competitive analysis templates, learn how to conduct competitor analysis effectively.
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What is competitor analysis?

In the world of business, staying ahead of the curve isn't about blind ambition — it's about informed strategy. The key to crafting that winning strategy? Understanding your competition. This is where competitor analysis comes in.

Competitor analysis is an essential process for navigating the ever-evolving landscape of your industry. It’s like taking a close look at other businesses similar to yours. It helps you understand what they're good at (strengths), where they might struggle (weaknesses), and what opportunities or challenges are out there. This way, you can learn from them and in turn, make smarter decisions for your own business.

Sample Competitor Analysis template

Write down your competitive analysis in a Canva document, packed with tools, graphs, and design elements to enrich your report.

Why is competitor analysis important?

Conducting a thorough analysis of your competitors is essential for businesses seeking to gain a competitive advantage. There are many advantages of competitor analysis — by studying rivals, you can gain a deeper understanding of the market you operate in, including its dynamics, trends, and key players. Without it, it will be difficult for you to win over clients.

From crafting your pricing strategy to finding that sweet spot in the market, the importance of competitor analysis lies in how it helps you in these crucial business processes:

Is your competition leaving a whole section of the market unaddressed? Forget playing catch-up — doing in-depth competition research brings you to these hidden opportunities and puts you on the frontlines of market trends.

As such, competitor analysis helps you carve out your unique place in the market. By understanding your rivals' strengths and weaknesses, you can identify underserved niches and tailor your brand to resonate with a specific audience.

Are your competitors all focused on high-end products? You could swoop in with a more affordable option for budget-conscious customers. Maybe they're neglecting a certain demographic? You can position yourself as the champion of that group.

Similarly, doing competitor research also fuels innovation by revealing what your competitors’ products lack. By looking at what features they’re missing, or what problems they're ignoring, you'll know exactly where to invest your resources for maximum impact.

Analyzing your competitors' missteps helps you avoid their pitfalls and steer clear of costly blunders. Think of it as learning from someone else's homework — it’s smart, effective, and saves you tons of time.

With this knowledge, you can develop your own products and services that will make you stand out. Maybe your competitors' software is clunky and outdated — you could focus on user-friendliness and cutting-edge technology. Perhaps their marketing is generic and uninspired? You could break the mold with creative campaigns that truly connect with your audience.

Another reason why business competitor analysis is important: it lets you see how much competitors are charging for similar products and services, and understand how price-sensitive your target audience is. With this, you can craft strategies that offer the best value while maximizing your profit margin. And you don’t have to fly in blind — a competitive analysis arms you with data-driven insights to make confident business choices.

For example, if you find your competitors charging premium prices, you could offer a more competitive alternative without sacrificing quality. Or perhaps they're undervaluing their offerings, in which case, you can confidently price your product at a fairer rate that reflects its true worth.

If communication is key, then competitive analysis helps with cracking the code. With it, you can learn from your competitors’ successes and failures in marketing and messaging. You can also discover what resonates with your audience, what falls flat, and where your competitors are stalling. This knowledge will help you craft marketing campaigns that leave your competition in the dust.

By understanding their preferences and pain points, you can tailor your communications directly to their needs. Maybe your competitors' marketing is full of jargon and technical terms — you could focus on clear, concise language that resonates with everyday people. Or maybe they're using outdated marketing channels — you could explore new platforms and formats to reach your target audience where they are.

Building a loyal community takes more than charm — it takes understanding. This is where a competitive assessment comes in — by helping you identify your competitors’ customer acquisition and retention strategies.

By seeing what works and what doesn't, you can devise strategies that attract new customers and nurture existing relationships, keeping them coming back for more.

Studying your competition is also important for search engine optimization (SEO, for short). By conducting an SEO competitor analysis, you can identify what keywords your rivals are overlooking, optimize your website content, and build backlinks that send you soaring up the search rankings. Apart from this, you can also look at what they’re all doing right, and adapt your strategy to ride this wave of popularity.

Say your competitors are neglecting local SEO — you could do a competitor keyword analysis to optimize your website for your specific geographic area. Or perhaps they're using outdated SEO techniques — you can stay ahead of the curve by implementing the latest SEO best practices. Doing a website competitor analysis brings you on top of the game (and search engine results!)

How often should you do a competitive analysis?

The market moves fast, so keeping tabs on your competition isn't a one-and-done deal; it's an ongoing strategic exercise crucial for maintaining a proactive and adaptive business approach. Here's when you should consider revisiting your competitor analysis:

Launching a new product or service

Whenever you're gearing up to unveil a new product or service, it's high time to bring out your competitive analysis tools again. Conducting a market competitor analysis allows you to gauge the competitive landscape, identify potential challenges, and refine your offering to stand out in the market.

Sample Market Competitor Analysis template

Assess current market trends with interactive graphs you can create straight on your Canva Doc.

Facing a new competitor or losing market share

The business landscape is dynamic, and new players may emerge while others may fade away. If you're confronted with a new competitor or experiencing a decline in market shares, it's a signal to revisit your competition analysis.

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of both existing and new rivals can guide your strategic adjustments, whether to maintain, improve, or regain your competitive position.

Changing your pricing

Altering your pricing strategy can have a significant impact on your market positioning. Before adjusting prices, conduct a thorough competitor analysis to assess how others in the industry charge their products or services. This ensures that your pricing aligns with market expectations and remains competitive.

Updating your branding or messaging

When refreshing your brand image or messaging, it’s crucial to make a marketing competitor analysis. Understanding how competitors communicate their value propositions and resonate with their audience can guide your own development of an effective and differentiated branding strategy. This insight ensures that your brand remains relevant and distinctive in the eyes of consumers.

What to include in a competitor analysis?

While the specific details of a competitor analysis will shift depending on your unique goals and industry, some core elements remain constant across the board. Think of it like studying your opponents in a crucial match — you need to scout their skills, understand their strategies, and develop your own winning tactics. So, let's dive into the essential components to make an effective competitive analysis:

Sample Competitor Analysis Company Overview section

Start your competitor analysis with a comprehensive company overview.

Begin by examining the fundamentals. Understand your competitor's history, mission, values, and overall corporate structure. This provides a foundational understanding of who they are in the business arena.

Here are the best questions to ask yourself when digging into your competitor's company overview:

  • Who are they? What's their journey been like?
  • Who are the key players? What expertise do they bring?
  • How are they perceived in the industry? Are they a leader, challenger, or niche player?

Dive deep into their offerings. Evaluate the features, quality, and unique selling points of their products or services. With this, you can gauge how they position themselves in the market.

When researching about your competitor’s product or service, you can focus on the following:

  • What do they offer? How does it compare to yours?
  • How reliable and effective are their offerings?
  • What sets them apart from you?
  • Are they actively innovating? What are their future plans?

Identify the specific audience they are catering to. Getting to know their ideal customer base helps you put into context and therefore understand their messaging, distribution channels, and the potential blind spots you can take advantage of.

As you look into your competitor’s target market, you can ask yourself:

  • Who are their ideal customers? What are their needs, wants, and pain points?
  • How do they reach their target audience? What channels do they use? Your social media competitor analysis will come in handy here.
  • How do they keep their customers loyal? What are their customer satisfaction levels?

Next, analyze their pricing models, discounts, and promotional tactics. This allows you to assess their value proposition and identify potential pricing gaps for your own offers.

Assess your competitor’s pricing models with the following questions:

  • How much do they charge?
  • How do they price their products or services? Is it subscription-based, pay-per-use, or something else?
  • What promotions do they offer? How do they compare to yours?

Deconstruct their marketing channels, advertising campaigns, and content strategy in order to reveal their messaging tone, preferred platforms, and areas you can possibly disrupt.

Here are the best questions to ask yourself when researching your competitors' marketing strategy:

  • What channels do they use to reach their target audience — social media, content marketing, paid advertising? How effective are their marketing campaigns?
  • What is their brand identity? What message are they trying to convey?
  • How do they interact with their customers? What is their customer journey like?

Identify what your competitors do well and where they fall behind. Know their unique selling points and areas where you can outperform them. This empowers you to leverage your own strengths and capitalize on their shortcomings.

Ask yourself the following when doing a competitor SWOT analysis:

  • What are their key advantages? What are they doing well?
  • What are their vulnerabilities? Are there any areas where they fall short?

Competitor analysis frameworks

Understanding your competitors is key to building a brand that stands out, but with so many competitor analysis frameworks floating around, each with its own focus, it can be tough to know where to start. We’ve rounded up a list of the most popular models you can use in conducting your own competitor analysis:

SWOT analysis

Sample SWOT analysis template

Consider your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as potential opportunities and threats as crucial areas of analysis.

How to conduct a SWOT analysis
Planning to integrate SWOT into your competitor analysis? Read more about this analysis model from this Canva resource.

The OG competitor analysis, SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It's a straightforward approach, helping you identify your competitors according to these four categories. From this analysis model, you can glean advantages and disadvantages from your rival’s processes that could make or break your own game.

Porter’s Five Forces

Created by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, the Porter’s Five Forces(opens in a new tab or window) framework helps you analyze the competitive landscape of an entire industry. This competitor analysis methodology analyzes five key forces that shape industry competitiveness:

  • Threat of new entrants
  • Supplier power
  • Buyer power
  • Threat of substitutes
  • Competitive rivalry

Strategic group analysis

Feeling lost in a sea of competitors? Strategic group analysis, as the name suggests, groups competitors based on their shared characteristics like product offerings, target market, and pricing strategies. This competitor analysis framework helps you identify your direct and indirect competitors and understand their competitive dynamics.

Growth-share matrix

Sample Growth-share matrix

The growth-share matrix organizes your analysis in a two-by-two grid, each area with a designated level of priority.

The growth-share matrix(opens in a new tab or window) provides a visual framework to assess your portfolio's health. By plotting products based on their market growth and market share, you can make informed decisions about where to allocate resources for the biggest payoff. This competitive analysis chart is divided into four quadrants:

  • Stars: These are hot sellers with big potential. Put your money on them and watch them grow.
  • Question marks: New kids on the block with potential, but still small. Invest only if you believe they can be future stars, otherwise say goodbye.
  • Cash cows: Reliable money makers. They're stable but not growing, so milk their profits to fuel the rising stars.
  • Pets: Underachievers with little growth or market share. Decide if you can turn them around or put them out to pasture.

Perceptual mapping

Perceptual mapping helps you visualize how customers position different brands based on specific attributes. This approach reveals blind spots in your branding and identifies opportunities to differentiate yourself in the minds of consumers.

Business model canvas

Deconstruct your rivals' business models piece by piece with a business model canvas. This competitor analysis methodology helps you analyze their value propositions, customer segments, channels, and revenue streams, uncovering the core mechanisms that drive their success.

Customer journey map

Business model canvas 101
Better understand how you can use this model to strengthen your competitor analysis.
Sample Current State Journey Map

By detailing your competitors’ customer journey, you can pinpoint areas of opportunities you can take advantage of.

More about customer journey maps
Find out how to map customer journeys, whether your competitor’s or your own, with this resource from Canva.

As a competitor analysis model, customer journey mapping helps you plot down a customer’s touchpoints, emotions, and pain points throughout their interaction with a brand. This approach unlocks valuable insights into your competitors' strengths and weaknesses in their customer experience, allowing you to craft an even more delightful journey for your own audience.

How to do competitor analysis?

Conduct your competitor research the right way. While there are several ways to do competitor analysis, the frameworks mentioned above follow general steps that ensure your research is effective, regardless of which one you choose. Here, learn how to perform competitor analysis in seven easy steps.

How to do competitor analysis

Before you begin, make sure valuable insights don’t slip through your fingers! Document your findings in a ready-made competitor analysis template that already outlines the type of data you’re looking for. Choose a document creator that seamlessly integrates visual aids, especially tables and charts, into your analysis.

Whether you’re planning to add a customer journey map to know where your competitors stand in terms of customer experience, or a SWOT analysis to discover where you can outperform them, having a dynamic and visually supercharged document enhances your analysis, and will serve as a reliable reference point for your team in the future.

Write with Canva Docs
Your next free writing tool, Canva Docs allows you to organize data visually and add images, graphics, and even videos, making the complex world of competitors more manageable.

Now, you can determine who you’re competing with. Identify your competitors accurately by categorizing them into two: direct and indirect. Direct competitors offer similar products or services to the same target market, while indirect competitors address the same customer needs or problems with different offerings.

Go beyond the surface. Research your competitors' history, mission, and leadership. This lays the foundation for understanding their values and motivations. You can consider it as reading your opponent's playbook, a way for you to anticipate and make sense of their moves.

Understanding their target customers' demographics, needs, and pain points is crucial. This knowledge will help you refine your own targeting strategies and tailor your branding to resonate with the right audience.

Analyze your rivals’ pricing strategies, from subscriptions, to discounts, and special offers. This knowledge will inform your own pricing decisions, putting you closer to finding the sweet spot that will attract customers and boost your bottom line. Understanding their tactics will help you craft a competitive pricing strategy that caters to your ideal customers, all without sacrificing value.

From social media to email marketing, various strategies are being used by your competitors out there to vie for attention. Make sure to take a close look at these marketing channels and strategies. This reveals their strengths and weaknesses in reaching your target audience, allowing you to identify gaps and craft a more effective marketing strategy of your own.

As you do this, make sure to analyze your competitors strengths and weaknesses, as well as your own. This honest self-assessment reveals areas for improvement and opportunities to capitalize on your unique advantages. Know the saying “Comparison is the thief of joy”? Well, that doesn’t apply here. Comparing yourself to your competitors is a powerful catalyst for growth.

Now, to ensure the information is polished before submission or presentation, consider sharing the document with your team for their valuable checks and comments. Collaborative insights will refine and strengthen your strategic approach.

Get inspired with competitive analysis templates

Gain a strategic edge effortlessly with Canva Docs’ ready-made online competitor analysis examples. Track pricing, map audiences, compare tactics — all with drag-and-drop ease, making competitor analysis accessible and effective for everyone. Elevate your strategy game with Canva Docs — where creativity meets competitive intelligence.

All you need in a competitor analysis maker

Effortlessly conduct competitor research with Canva Docs, an intuitive online document creator you can add to your arsenal of competitor analysis tools. Packed with professionally-designed visuals, user-friendly features, and a powerful AI writing assistant, our drag-and-drop editor makes crafting and collaborating on competitor analyses a breeze.

  • Great on any device

    Great on any device

    With responsive Docs, create, view, and edit your doc on any device. Perfect for when you're on the go.

  • Visual library for visual Docs

    Visual library for visual Docs

    Seamlessly add visuals like graphs, tables, images, videos, graphics, and more, all available within your doc.

  • Collaborate in real-time

    Collaborate in real-time

    Work with teams and build on ideas with comments and emoji reactions. Keep sync sessions on track with a timer.

  • Magic Write your first draft, fast

    Magic Write your first draft, fast

    Beat writer's block and skip ahead to your first draft with a single text prompt on Magic Write.

  • Share your work effortlessly

    Share your work effortlessly

    Share a link to your doc and control your team’s access. Track activity, views, and comments via Insights (Pro).

  • Turn Docs to Decks

    Turn Docs to Decks

    Instantly convert your document to a fully customizable Canva presentation with Docs to Decks.

Competitor analysis best practices

There’s no denying it — when it comes to studying your competition, research can be challenging. Just one wrong move and it’ll affect the outcome of your analysis. To help you out, here is a break down of some of the most helpful tips you can consider when doing competitive analysis:

Define clear objectives

Set precise goals to guide your analysis. Identify what you want to achieve, whether it's enhancing market positioning or uncovering growth opportunities.

When you’re in this phase, there might be times where information could overload and overwhelm you. To avoid this, it’s good to organize your information in a structured list. Canva Docs has a checklist feature to organize your goals, ensuring you stay on track. Having a structured checklist will serve as your roadmap and guide. Add one to your doc by typing “/” and searching for the Checklist action. You can also type “[ ]”, which automatically converts to a checklist item.

Use a structured framework

From the list of frameworks previously discussed, make sure to choose the one that best aligns with your goals, and then use it to streamline your data collection and analysis. Popular options like SWOT analysis, Porter's Five Forces, or the growth-share matrix can help you structure your research and categorize your findings.

Canva Docs offers a variety of visualization tools to complement your chosen framework. Enhance your competitor analysis by incorporating graphs and graphics. You can even add shapes, images, and other design elements that can be useful for your analysis. These features will make your analysis dynamic, on top of making it more engaging and insightful.

Expand to a Whiteboard
Need more space to plot your framework? Create it with Canva Whiteboards’ unlimited canvas. Copy the design link and easily embed it to your Canva Doc when you’re done.
Add shapes, images, and other design elements to your chosen framework

Access graphs, graphics, and media on the left side of your Canva Doc.

Prioritize key metrics

Cut through the analytical noise. To help you focus, identify the metrics that matter most to your goals. For example, if you're focusing on brand awareness, prioritize social media reach. This means creating eye-catching graphs depicting engagement data. By focusing on certain key metrics, you can avoid analysis paralysis and ensure your findings are actionable.

Involve cross-functional teams

Don't do it alone. Involve marketing, sales, and customer service teams in your competition analysis. Their diverse perspectives will shed light on different aspects of your competitors' strategies and help you identify hidden opportunities.

When using Canva Docs’ editing tool for your competitor analysis, you can easily share it with your team by sending them a link to your workspace, or inviting them via email. This way, everyone’s on the same page.

Canva for Teams
Analyze competitors with your colleagues. With Canva for Teams, collaborate anywhere and anytime, access Pro tools, and share a central storage for your documents and other designs.

Competitor analysis FAQs

The main goal of competitor analysis is to score some strategic insights on what your rivals are up to, get a solid grip on the market, and spot awesome opportunities to win. It enables you to refine your strategies, stay agile, and maintain a competitive edge in the ever-changing market scene.

Absolutely! Even large, established companies need regular competitive analyses. Why? The market evolves, competitors innovate, and new opportunities emerge. Crucial for your long-term success, analyzing your competition should be an ongoing process, not a one-time event.

Performing competitive analysis can be challenging, especially if it’s your first time doing it. But with Canva Docs, it’s easier than ever to create a visually impactful analysis.

Canva Docs features ready-made templates you can customize for free. As you write your analysis, make the template your own by applying your branding colors, adding charts, graphs, and competitor logos for maximum impact.

And here’s where it gets more fun — you can invite your team to brainstorm, edit in real-time, and uncover hidden opportunities together. Share your findings seamlessly as a PDF, link, or even an instant presentation, ensuring everyone's on the same page. Remember, the market moves fast. Regularly revisit and update your analysis to stay ahead of the curve.

Here are some of the popular tools for competitor analysis you can use to get a closer look at what your competitors are doing:

  • Ahrefs, SEMrush: For SEO, search ads, and content marketing
  • Canva Docs: For turning data into reports and digestible visuals
  • Sprout Social, Social Blade: For social media
  • Buzzsumo, Similarweb: For content marketing
  • Mailcharts, Owletter: For emails, ads and industries

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