competitive-profile-matrix

What Is A Competitive Profile Matrix And Why It Matters In Business

A Competitive Profile Matrix (CPM) describes the strategic analysis of comparing a business to its competitors in such a way that it reveals its relative strengths and weaknesses. Those will be assessed against a few key components like product range/quality, customer service, brand equity/reputation, marketing innovation, management, and HR competency. Once weighed, they get scored for a complete assessment.

Understanding the Competitive Profile Matrix

Regardless of the industry concerned, organizations have distinct strengths and weaknesses. One might have the most recognizable brand, while another may enjoy the lowest production costs.

A Competitive Profile Matrix is a graphic representational of the most important businesses in a given industry, giving a reasonably detailed overview of the competitive landscape.

In the matrix, businesses are rated according to critical success factors with a numerical score. Once each business has been rated, the matrix will naturally show where each is relatively strong and relatively weak.

Key components of a Competitive Profile Matrix

Let’s look at the four key components of an effective CPM.

1. Critical Success Factors

Sometimes called Key Success Factors (KSF), these are factors that have relevance to the success or failure of a business within an industry.

The success factors that a business chooses to judge itself on will, of course, be dependent on its specific industry.

But in general, most CPMs will assess common factors such as:

  • Product range and quality.
  • Customer service.
  • Brand equity and reputation.
  • Marketing and innovation.
  • Management and HR competency.

2. Weighting

Once the critical success factors have been determined, they must be given a weighting from 0.1 to 1.

For example, a factor given a weighting of 0.2 means that it is not a particularly large driver of success. A rating of 0.8, on the other hand, denotes a critically important success factor.

A bricks and mortar grocery store may give customer service a weighting of 0.7, while an eCommerce retailer without the need for face-to-face interaction may give the same factor a weighting of 0.3.

3. Score

With critical success factors and their associated weightings determined, a business can now be scored against them. Most use this simple scale:

  • 1 – major weakness – a company lagging behind its competitors.
  • 2 – minor weakness.
  • 3 – minor strength. 
  • 4 – major strength – a company that is an industry or market leader.

It’s important to note that scoring is an objective process – so some businesses may find value in expanding the scoring scale to achieve better objectivity. In any case, the weight of each factor must now be multiplied by the score to give the weighted score for each competing business.

4. Total score

To arrive at a total score for each competitor, simply add the weighted scores together.

The company with the highest score is the strongest in its industry, relative to its competitors.

However, even businesses in strong competitive positions will have one or two relative weaknesses.

This is another strength of the CPM, as it allows competitive organizations to further increase market share.

Competitive profile matrix example

In the final section, we’ll review a competitive profile matrix for two smartphone operating systems: Google’s Android OS and Apple’s iOS.

While we could simply compare Google and Apple as companies, let’s take the opportunity to analyze one of their core products and show the versatility of the CPM.

1 – Critical success factors

Android and iOS perform more or less the same function, but there are key differences between the products that may be considered a relative strengths or weaknesses depending on the consumer.

Below is a sample list of critical success factors collected from various review articles and research:

  • Market share.
  • Update frequency.
  • Distribution channels.
  • Usability.
  • Brand reputation.
  • Cloud integration.
  • Customizability. 
  • File transfer system.
  • Web mapping service.
  • Compatibility. 
  • Calls and messaging.
  • App store affordability.
  • Security.
  • Battery life and management.
  • Photo and video backup.
  • Headphone jack.

2 – Weighting

With the above factors identified, we’ll now pick five at random and weight each according to its importance in driving success.

The five we have chosen are market share, brand reputation, web mapping service, customizability, and security. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll assess each factor for the North American market only.

Let’s weight each factor for each product below:

  • Market share – according to March 2022 data, iOS has 57.65% market share in the United States while Android has 42.08%. As a result, iOS receives a score of 0.6 and Android 0.4.
  • Brand reputation – the Apple brand is undoubtedly one of the most valuable, but data from 500 quarterly surveys found that Android’s customer retention was 5% better than that of iOS. With this in mind, Android scores 0.8 for brand reputation and iOS 0.7.
  • Web mapping service – while there is a clear gulf between Android’s Google Maps and iOS’s Apple Maps, it’s likely to be a less significant driver of success than some other factors. We’ll give Android a score of 0.5 and iOS a score of 0.2.
  • Customizability – Android tends to be more customizable than iOS because it is open-source and does not need to be jailbroken. We believe this is a more significant success factor, so Android receives a score of 0.7 and iOS a score of 0.5.
  • Security – Android has become a much more secure platform in recent years. However, the consensus is that iOS still has the upper hand thanks to its closed ecosystem and consistent updates. Here, iOS receives a score of 0.6 and Android a score of 0.5.

3 – Weighted score

In the third step, we calculate the weighted score by multiplying each weighted factor by a rating on a scale of 1 to 4. To reiterate, a score of 1 indicates the brand has a major weakness in that factor, while a score of 4 indicates a major strength.

Market share

  • Android – 0.4 x 2 = 0.8.
  • iOS – 0.6 x 4 = 2.4.

Brand reputation

  • Android – 0.8 x 3 = 2.4.
  • iOS – 0.7 x 4 = 2.8.

Web mapping service

  • Android – 0.5 x 4 = 2.0.
  • iOS – 0.2 x 2 = 0.4.

Customizability

  • Android – 0.7 x 4 = 2.8
  • iOS – 0.5 x 2 = 1.0.

Security

  • Android – 0.5 x 3 = 1.5.
  • iOS – 0.6 x 4 = 2.4.

4 – Total score 

With every factor weighted and multiplied, it is time to arrive at the final score. This is done by adding the score of each factor for each operating system:

  • Android – 0.8 + 2.4 + 2.0 + 2.8 + 1.5 = 9.5.
  • iOS – 2.4 + 2.8 + 0.4 + 1.0 + 2.4 = 9.0.

From the numbers, we can see that Android is relatively stronger than iOS for the factors we chose to analyze. A more comprehensive analysis with additional success factors and industry competitors would yield the most accurate result. 

In any case, with the relative strengths and weaknesses of both operating systems identified, decision-makers at Google and Apple could theoretically understand how to improve their positions in the market.

Key takeaways

  • A Competitive Profile Matrix is a powerful strategic analysis tool that displays the major players in an industry and their strengths and weaknesses relative to each other.
  • A Competitive Profile Matrix can be used in any industry with multiple businesses to give a detailed view of the competitive landscape.
  • A Competitive Profile Matrix has four key components. Critical success factors must be identified, weighted, and then scored to determine the overall market position.

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