Brand positioning & competitive intelligence. How is your firm doing?

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How well is your firm competitively communicating brand value – at multiple levels – to current and potential customers?

When I work with clients to comparatively assess their competitors (competitive intelligence) regarding market positioning, it’s most natural to think of “direct competitors” – brand competitors and product competitors.  Really, though, firms need to be able to position and market themselves in reference to all types of competitive forces.

Your potential customers – when considering whether to do business with you – are ranking you withing their total spending budget.   Competitive intelligence is a valuable positioning tool in this regard.  When I taught college-level marketing courses, I taught students about competition at all of marketing’s four levels:

Brand competitors

The most direct type of competition.  When car buyers purchase vehicles, they choose between a Mercedes Benz or a BMW, a Honda Civic versus a Toyota Corolla.

Product competitors

Vehicle buyers choose between a sports car versus an SUV or a sedan – any type of personal transport vehicle. 

Generic competitors

Transportation competitors – personal vehicle versus joining a car share program, using ride shares or taxis, buying a bicycle, or taking public transit.

Total budget competitors

Total  budget competitors are every company that sells something your customers buy – vehicles, health insurance, holidays, you name it. 


Your potential customers have a “total spending budget” for all their expenditures.  When thinking of all the things they could purchase and whether they should spend a portion of their budget on your product or services, how are you communicating your value to customers within each of the four categories above?   Communicate why your product or service needs to be prioritized within customer budgets.  If you need to look more closely at this topic, consider bringing me on board for your assessment.


Kim Burkhardt “wrote the book” on competitive intelligence (Competitive Intelligence Workbook). Contact me at Burkhardt & Co. for your competitive intelligence and market research projects.

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