One of the great uses of market research in general, and technology market research in particular, is getting G2 on what your competitors are doing.
Market research organizations usually have much greater access to your competitors’ customers, and the anonymity of a formal market research process allows participants to be much more open.
As technology market research experts, we get a lot of inquiries about competitive research projects. Here are answers to three of our most frequently asked questions:
1. Can you find my competitor’s customers?
Yes, with only one caveat – they actually have customers!!! Getting participants for any market research project is a bit of a numbers game. There will always be some percentage of people who don’t have the time or simply aren’t interested in participating. If your competition only has 20 customers in the entire world, we probably will struggle to find them all and get them to agree to participate in a project.
But with this one caveat, we have tried-and-true methods for finding users of any particular technology. In fact, at Dimensional Research we have actually had clients with such bad internal data and complex internal processes, that it’s been easier for us to find their customers!
2. Will my competitor’s customers talk to you?
Yes, absolutely. Not only do we motivate them with appropriate compensation but people like to be heard. And technology professionals know that strong competition drives innovation, so they want their vendors to have competition, and they want to have options.
3. How specific will competitor customers get with their info?
That of course depends on the participant and how open they are, but the majority of participants will tell you everything they know. It depends to some degree on the goals of the project. If your goals are to understand the motivation for purchase – such as a win/loss project or a lost-deal analysis – those are very straightforward questions and it’s straightforward to get clear answers from customers.
If your goal is to understand weaknesses in your competitor’s product, that can also be done, but you do need to be prepared that existing customers have often worked through weaknesses, have figured out workarounds, and no longer perceive those as problems. Having some sense of what the weaknesses might be so you can encourage the participants to recall their initial response to those problems will give better results.
Remember though that this is a good news/bad news situation. It’s just as easy for YOUR competitors to talk to your customers, so at Dimensional Research we strongly recommend that you get feedback from your own users in addition to your competitors’ customers!