Competitor Creep

August 12th, 2008 | Categories: content, design, launch, marketing, markets, networks, strategy, trends

Many new companies looking to compete in a given space choose to first copy basic competitor features to level the playing field. Only at this point do they integrate their own functionality and incorporate what they think the consumer will want. This tactic isn’t rare by any means, but it may bring about feature creep and maybe even an inferior overall offering.

Basing your product offering on what everyone else is doing is short-sighted and potentially dangerous. Having said that, there may be features that need to be present in all offerings. In this case, it’s not a matter of copying but rather obligation. Nevertheless, the addition of any new feature should always be questioned to ensure that its existence is necessary and adds value.

Let’s look at video sharing sites (like YouTube), for example. Almost every site offers comments and ratings on individual videos. Is this absolutely necessary for every new video sharing site? Perhaps. But maybe straying from the norm may offer new potential opportunities. (This is simply an example and there are many others that may illustrate this point even better)
Simply riding on industry conventions and failing to innovate will likely result in a lackluster business. Success may come based on luck and market-timing, but it is unlikely to occur as a result of market emulation. Never assume that just because everyone else is doing something that it is the best strategy.

Note: The same can also be said for messaging and positioning, among other things, not just features.

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  1. Ruben Says:

    The temptation to copy others should be cured by analysing what makes them successful in the first place!

  2. Paul Says:

    You make a very important point. However, ‘features’ aren’t the only thing that differentiate a company. Company B may copy all of Company A’s features, but if Company B is more able to explain the offering to potential customers (with superior marketing) then Company B may end up being the more profitable company.

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