Did anybody else read the latest Fast Company article about Blockbuster? In it Kevin Lewis, the head of Blockbuster’s digital strategy, makes the following comment about their competition in the phone app market:
“By the way, my biggest competitors in this space are not Amazon, Apple, and Netflix. My biggest competitor is: What the heck is this thing, and how does it work?”
Touché. Setting aside the often-complicated world of smartphones and the galaxies of available apps, one thing is true – in any business: your customer gets to decide who your competitors are.
That’s arresting. We may think we know who we’re up against, but do we really? Your biggest competitor may be do-it-yourselfers or a standard-setting company outside of your industry, like FedEx. Companies that seem light-years away from your company may be creating new expectations for your customers – expectations about service, innovation, and value.
We see this all the time. Since E.G. Insight’s in-depth customer interviews include questions about the competition, we know who customers cite. Yes, sometimes it is the obvious choice, like the largest competitor in a particular industry. Other times, it is a company that has raised the bar through personal experience, like Southwest Airlines or Google.
We all think we know who our competitors are, but do we really know? Why not ask?