Most brands know their traditional retail competitors like the back of their hand. They appeal to similar audiences, weigh in at similar price points, and occupy shelf space in the same stores. Amazon is less tidy.
With over 2.3 million active sellers, Amazon offers a seemingly endless assortment of brands and products for consumers to choose from. This vast selection creates an overwhelming competitive landscape that is very different from the physical shelf.
Just like in traditional retail, brands can’t — and shouldn’t — compete with everyone on Amazon. Here are some tips on how to narrow your competitive focus to the brands that matter most.
Start with some searches
It may seem simple, but the best place to start looking for competitors is in the Amazon search bar. This is where most shoppers begin their buyer’s journey, so it’s a good exercise to put on your customer glasses and search for the things they’d search.
Unless a shopper already has a brand in mind, most shoppers will start with broad search terms, such as “metal water bottle,” for instance. They might then refine their search to “insulated metal water bottle.” As shoppers get closer to the product they want, brand options start to slim.
Going through that same exercise — searching broad and then narrowing in — is a great way to begin identifying a broad list of competitors.
Categorize your competitors
After identifying a broad range of competitors through search, slim the list even further by evaluating brands against several variables:
- Price point — price point is one of the things that sets brands apart. A company selling $7 water bottles is not targeting the same audience as a company selling $50 insulated thermoses. They might appear on the same search results page, but they’re not really competitors.
- Target audience — most brands have multiple customer personas they’re targeting. Gender, age, wants — these are some of the things that define a brand’s target audience. On Amazon, listing pages can tell you a lot about who a brand is targeting. What kind of language are they using? What type of persona are they featuring in product images? Is their audience the same as your brand’s audience?
- Product features — products that seem similar at first glance might have subtle distinctions that make all the difference. Going back to the water bottle analogy, an insulated thermos and a lightweight backpacking thermos might have a lot in common. They might have a similar price point and share segments of a target audience, but the actual functions of the two products are subtly different. The backpacking thermos is lightweight, which means it will appeal to a slightly different shopper than the regular thermos.
- Branding — aside from price point and quality, identity and story are powerful factors that set brands apart. Two brands might sell products that are virtually identical in terms of quality and price, but if one brand does a better job resonating with its target audience, that brand will most likely be the one that gets the sale.
Measuring your broad list of brands against these factors should give you a better understanding of the competitive landscape on Amazon and help you identify your brand’s closest competitors.
Pay attention to sponsored vs organic rankings
While you’re searching for competing brands, keep an eye out for who is ranking where in the results page. Top organic rankings on Amazon typically take time, strategy, and clout, meaning that ranking brands have probably been around on the marketplace longer. Brands ranking via paid strategies in sponsored positions might be newer and trying to break into the category. This isn’t always the case, but it is worth paying attention to because it can sometimes help you identify the leading brands in your competitive category.
You can’t compete with every brand on Amazon, and you shouldn’t try. By taking a structured approach, brands can weed through their competition and identify their closest competitors. Some of these steps may seem obvious, but actually taking the time to map out and consider your competition can save a lot of time, resources, and ad spend. In the end, you might surprise yourself with what you discover along the way.