Before we dig too deep into the pros and cons of whether competition is good for business, let’s take a look back about 100 years … give or take a few years.
When Henry Ford started manufacturing automobiles, he wanted to produce vehicles that the “average” person could afford. In doing so, he established a certain loyalty to his brand among the people who bought his cars. That loyalty has spanned generations.
Imagine what it would be like today if Ford had not had any competition in the marketplace. Every car on the road would be a Ford and there would be no question what you would drive. Ford would dictate what color of cars would be available, what features they would have, and most importantly, what you would pay to own one of their vehicles.
We’re not experts in which started first, but General Motors entered the automotive scene as well and competition began. People who drove Chevrolet vehicles were proud of how they looked and performed. It wasn’t long before Ford people gained a disdain for Chevy people, and Chevy owners grew to dislike Ford people.
In the process of competing, both companies grew and expanded the world of motor vehicles in the United States.
The competition was good in that it kept both companies operating, although each saw an erosion in market share. As America’s population grew, the market kept growing, so although each company may have lost market share, the overall market expanded enough to keep both companies in business. Competition opened the door for other car manufacturers to try their hand at taking some of the market share, creating jobs and choices for consumers. Consider your choices for automobiles in today’s market, including the foreign competitors.
Back to the topic at hand. Competition is good for the consumer in that it generally keeps prices lower and options more plentiful. Where it can be detrimental to business is when the business dilutes it’s own market by competing with itself.
An example is orange juice. Orange juice now comes regular, with added calcium, mixed with other fruits such as pineapple, and a few other varieties. The same manufacturers compete against themselves for consumers by offering various choices and, in many cases, the consumer is unaware of the differences, except if it means a higher cost to them.
A business owner needs to understand that, in virtually every situation, there will be competition for the consumer’s money. Your business needs to develop strategies to embrace the competition by knowing how and why your business is different, and minimize the risks of competing against yourself.
A key element is to know your customer. What are their preferences? You may think you know what they want, but do you know – for sure – what they really want from your company and your products and/or services? Why do they, or should they, want to do business with you instead of your competitors? How loyal are they?
In our humble opinion, yes, competition is good for business. It keeps your business on its toes and makes you work harder to stay on top or to gain more market share. To use a comparison, athletes get better when they compete against someone better at their sport. Competition in business makes your business better and is better for the consumer.