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Avoiding the Lookalike Competitor Trap in CX analytics

Emily CleaverContent Editor30 Sept 2022

How Relative Attractiveness (RA) delivers more nuanced insight than traditional customer analysis

Think about the times you’ve tried to measure your CX against competitors. It’s hard to find analytics tools that give useful answers beyond the obvious. There are tools that will give you ‘cheaper and more convenient’ as reasons people choose to shop elsewhere. But you knew that already — those kinds of answers are what customers always say when they’re asked about their shopping choices.

It’s harder to analyse the complex real-world environment in which customers make decisions. Customers can’t even do this themselves — humans are poor at analysing our own past actions or predicting future actions. We find it hard to remember why we did something or imagine how we would act in a different mood to the one we’re in right now.

So, asking customers why they make the choices they do delivers those same old obvious answers again and again.

A coin for the trolley

The Uncrowd story starts with a shopping trolley and a pound coin. Founder Richard Hammond needed the first but didn’t have the second. It was the moment that crystallised for Richard the crucial relationship between friction and reward in the customer journey.

The need for a coin was only a tiny friction — Sainsbury’s would have given him a trolley token for free if he’d gone in store. But on the mission he was on (buy family meals for the weekend) in the mindset he was in (hungry, tired, wanting to get home,) it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Richard went home, got a takeaway, and put in his first order online with Ocado.

Traditional customer analysis might have missed the motivators for this moment of decision. And it might have missed the loss of a customer to a business in a different sector. Richard didn’t go to another physical supermarket; he spent his money with a restaurant and an online delivery company.

A small fluctuation in the balance between friction / reward can prompt a customer to choose a competitor. It can also send a customer away from a lookalike solution altogether, choosing to spend their money in a different sector.

When you define your competitive set as businesses who look like you, and attempt to compare your own business with them by asking customers what they think, you miss crucial information about the cues that really cause a customer to choose you, your competitors, or a different solution.

Your competitive set should be determined by mission

Traditional competitor analysis is too distant from customer decision making. It can provide useful insight to help us anticipate a competitor’s moves within a market using industry sector analysis and external analysis, but it leaves us with blind spots in our vision.

Uncrowd’s competitor analysis metric, Relative Attractiveness (RA), is unlike anything else out there because instead of defining a competitive set based on sector, it defines the competitive set by the solution sought by the customer; the mission. Our approach ignores sector boundaries and measures on a wider scale.

RA measures the CX environment, observing and analysing the signals that would be present when a customer on a particular mission, in a particular mindset, chooses where to shop.

Customer missions and mindsets

A customer mission is what a customer is trying to achieve when they shop. Buy food for the weekend is a customer mission.

But the choices a customer makes are not just influenced by the mission they’re on. Those choices are likely to be different depending on the mindset they are in.

A customer mindset is the group of needs, moods, emotions, attitudes, habits, biases and circumstances that are present at the time of the mission.

The combination of mission and mindset influences how a customer perceives and reacts to the choices available to them. In different mission/mindset combos, some options will appear more relatively attractive than others. And those options won’t necessarily all be from the same sector.

In the trolley story, Richard’s mission — Buy food for the weekend — was accompanied by a specific mindset — Hungry, tired, wanting to get home. I