Watch Your CPG Competitors for 3 things

CPG is a famously competitive industry. There’s always high demand for CPG products — which is great. But there are lots of CPG brands around and consumer loyalty is at an all-time low.

When your CPG competitors are tempting consumers away from your product offering, it’s easy to see them as a threat. But the relationship is actually way more interesting than that.

Competitors can provide you with strategy inspiration, business plan guidance and new product ideas. Keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing throws up a heap of opportunities to grow your share of the market, as well as highlighting the areas in which you need to defend it.  

So what should you be watching your CPG competitors for? Here are the top three things we recommend CPG brands monitor and analyze to stay one step ahead.

1. Product shelf placement

Whilst DTC sales may be big CPG news, maintaining a strong, in-store presence still has the power to boost brand awareness and sales. You can make the most of those opportunities when your product occupies a prime piece of retail shelf real estate.

A product that sits near the bottom or very top of a shelf is more likely to go unnoticed by shoppers. Eye-level shelf space and eye-catching end caps are where it’s at.

Because a whopping 82% of consumers only decide what they’re going to buy when they’re actually walking the aisles of a store, getting your product seen as consumers make those purchasing decisions increases the chance of your brand ending up in a shopping cart.   

Easier said than done. The competition for product shelf placement is fierce. But by taking a look at your CPG competitors and their product shelf placement you can learn a few things that may give you the upper hand. Ask yourself the following questions.

What’s your share of shelf in comparison to CPG competitors?

How much shelf space are your CPG competitors currently occupying? Tracking your share of shelf in comparison to your competitors can help you to discover opportunities and threats.

Is there a new sector player rising up the ranks and challenging you for shelf space? Or is a bigger brand taking up a heap of space but failing to deliver on sales?

Understanding where you currently stand in the shelf space ecosystem will help you to build a stronger strategy and develop a winning shelf space pitch for your retail partners.

What do you have that your CPG competitors don’t?

A little competitor research can help you build a battle plan. It gives you the insights you need to show a retailer why you deserve to occupy the best possible shelf space.

Look at the brands currently occupying eye-level space. How would you rate their packaging design? How much space do they take up and how does this relate to their sales volume? What price point do they have? Are they keeping up-to-date with industry trends or resting on their laurels?

Spot a weakness and this — paired with lots of data to back up your brand’s sales potential — may help you to persuade a retailer that a shelf switch around is in their best interests.  

Are your CPG competitors MIA?

Don’t see your main competitors at a particular retailer? This might seem like a golden opportunity for shelf space dominance. But before you leap in, ask yourself: why are your competitors MIA?

Perhaps this retailer just doesn’t align with your sector’s target market or maybe your type of products simply don’t sell well in this particular store.

Can you piggyback on someone else’s success?

Is your main CPG competitor already sitting pretty in the shelf spot you’d like to take? You don’t necessarily need to knock them off that spot to reap retail rewards.

Instead, you can aim for the next best thing. Try to get your products next to the best-selling SKU in your category. That way shoppers seeking out the leading brand can discover your alternative product at a glance.

Getting to know where and how your competitors’ products appear on retail shelves can help you negotiate the best possible shelf placement deal with retailers. And that can mean the difference between selling a handful of units – and selling hundreds.

2. Social media tactics

In the wake of the pandemic and the move to online sales, maintaining a strong CPG social media presence has never been more important for CPG brands.

Analyzing your CPG competitors’ performance on social media will help you to see how your pages are performing in comparison. You can then identify opportunities for growing and engaging your audience more effectively – and identify any emerging social threats.  

Luckily there are lots of great social media monitoring tools around to save you the hassle of manual competitor analysis.

When you’ve got hold of the data — ideally relating to around five of your main CPG competitors — you can do the following:

Get strategy inspiration

By examining your competitors’ social media presence and logging your findings over time you can discover:

  • What time of day they post
  • How often they post – are you posting frequently enough to catch your audience’s attention and maintain their interest?
  • Which platforms they choose to post on
  • Which company values they choose to highlight – social is all about building a like-minded community
  • How engaged their audience is – how many likes, shares and comments do their posts get?
  • Whether they sell their products through their social media account
  • The rate at which their audience is growing or shrinking

Get content inspiration

Coming up with ideas for social media content can be tough. Whilst you don’t want to carbon copy competitor posts, competitor pages can provide a heap of inspiration.

You get an idea of the tone of voice used: is it formal or conversational, serious, or irreverent?

You see what types of posts and media your target market responds well to.

And you get to find out which hashtags are popular within your industry and sector.

By analyzing your competitors’ top performing posts you save yourself a heap of trial and error effort. You can see what works and what doesn’t when it comes to a social media profile in your CPG sector.

Using all of this useful competitor information you can set social media benchmark — industry and sector standards you want to achieve. You can also work to mimic successful competitor strategy as well as finding ways to differentiate your brand’s social media offering from the rest of the content out there.

3. Website content and backlinks

Capitalizing on DTC sales means operating an ecommerce website that offers exceptional user experience. But how do you get visitors to your site in the first place when you’re a relatively unknown name on the CPG scene?

SEO strategy is key. A mix of SEO knowhow, keyword research and stellar website content will help your website to rank higher in SERPs — and maybe even grab one of those top spots on the first page.

But you can’t just build it and expect consumers to come — you need to know exactly which websites you’re competing against.  

What you can learn from CPG competitor website content

Analyzing CPG competitor websites will help you to understand their SEO strategy — and align your strategy accordingly.

Again, there are lots of great online tools that can help you build a picture of your competitor’s website: which pages perform best, which keywords they’re targeting, and what their audience looks like.

By analyzing the content that brings traffic to your competitor’s website, you can create a more effective keyword strategy — targeting the same keywords with a better content offering or targeting keywords your competitors are currently overlooking.

What you can learn from CPG competitor backlinks

Without doubt, any website reaching the SERP top spots has an excellent backlink profile.

To enhance your own backlink profile and challenge your competitors for search result visibility, you should:

  • Pick out a few competitors who rank highly in SERPs
  • Use a backlink auditing tool to find and analyze competitor backlinks, along with your own
  • Find new domains to aim at
  • Repeat this process regularly. Your competitors will be updating their backlink profile all the time so your research can quickly become out of date

This information can tell you two key things.  

Firstly, it gives you an idea of which domains will help you knock your competitors off their SERP top spot. Secondly, it tells you the rate at which your competitors are growing their backlink profile — and how much time and effort you need to commit to keep pace.

In summary

Keeping an eye on the competition is key to CPG success. You need to know who you’re up against if you’re to position your brand effectively.

Just remember that competitor analysis is an ongoing process. The CPG landscape is constantly changing. So check in with your competitors regularly to keep your CPG strategy on point.

Keep ahead of the CPG crowd. Get the latest industry news and insight over on the Buffalo Market blog

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