For my general studies I took a marketing elective and this is all I remember. At least I can apply it to writing!
When thinking about your product, there are specific categories that relate your product to others on the market. Here is a brief overview and how I relate them to books.
Brand competitorsMy text book defined brand competitors as different diet sodas. Coke vs. Pepsi. You know.
In book terms, I think of this as the genre. Someone who wants Supernatural Fiction will choose between the zombies, vampires, or some other form of chanted immortals. They probably won’t reach for a Crime Thriller, just like a Coke drinker will be stoned to death before settling for Pepsi and vice versa. These tastes are fairly decided and in the given market a consumer is consistently brand loyal.
Product competitorsProduct competitors offer the same idea in different products, like diet teas vs. diet sodas.
These are your other authors writing in your genre. Here your consumer is looking for an idea, as above, Supernatural Fiction. But their taste will vary between zombies and vampires. If you’re in the zombie camp, you may persuade those from the vampire camp to your ways, but know that they have different tastes.
Generic competitorThe dieter above chooses water instead of a beverage. So no matter how you package your diet drink, the generic choice is cheaper and not really in the same realm as what you are selling.
I’m not sure if there’s a generic version of a zombie book. So in this I’ll use the free kindle edition of A Christmas Carol I downloaded instead of buying the book. I needed to save money and still read the Dickens. With many ebook authors offering free or .99 downloads, there are going to be many consumers shopping only in this price range.
Total budget competitorDiet soda, bananas, newspaper or a pack of gum are all in competition for the consumer’s budget.
All books can be included in this, and not just as in Memoir vs. Supernatural Fiction. When I ask someone to buy a book or download a e-copy, I’m competing with the hot pockets they buy at lunch, movie tickets, and supplies for their latest hobby, not just other books.
Putting my book into these categories gives me a more focused perspective when thinking about how I will publish my next book. To compete in the generic range should I offer a book for free? If I’m tackling the diehard Zombie Brand consumers, what do the other books offer that they want and how can I offer them more? Are there a lot of product competitors in my genre? These questions will all have different answers depending on which book I’m working on. Weigh the logistics of where your consumers are more focused and keep in mind that you are competing in the consumer’s total budget. Happy marketing!