Chasing The Competition: A Wise or Bad Move?

Should You Copy Competitor Product Features?

Chasing the Competition: A Wise or Bad Move?

It’s been said imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but does that apply to product design? When benchmarking competitive product features, do you find yourself spending too much time worrying about whether to copy what the rest of the pack is doing?

In a recent Openviewlabs article, Josh Pigford, founder of PopSurvey and Temper shared his thoughts on the subject and had a few tips for emerging-stage software companies:

1) Spending too much time on the competition stifles your creative efforts

Engaging in a game of one-upmanship with your competitors keeps your focus on them, and not on what you should be doing. In Pigford’s own words:


“If you play the features game, you will forever be behind. You won’t be spending the bulk of your time building your own things and you may develop a reputation in your market as a features copycat. That is not good for your brand, particularly if you are a smaller business trying to stand out.”

2) Just Say “No” to  Copying Competitor product features

It sounds illogical to say “No” to your customer feature wishlist, but Pigford has a simple but very compelling reason for doing so:

“Most entrepreneurs forget that they started their company to solve a unique problem or to create a product that did X, Y, or Z better than the competition. Customers began paying for that unique value and the company grew from there. So why not continue to execute that strategy by perpetually evaluating your customer’s needs and pain points, and investing time into developing unique ways to address those issues?”

The key here is to address your customer’s pain points. Is adding some new competitor feature really going to address their needs? Is it a “Want” vs a “Must-Have?” We are consistently taught the customer is always right, but there is a cost to continuously adding features to your product.

3) Prioritize Product Improvements That Are Critical to Your Customer’s Success

The key takeaway is to prioritize improvements and features that add real value to your customers. While it’s certainly good business to take critical “game changing” features from the competition, it’s equally important to remain focused on making your own product distinctive and targeted to a solving a specific problem for your customers.

The competition will always be innovating and trying to carve out a competitive advantage. It’s important to try not to be all things to every customer. Keep a tight focus and remember the old adage: “Jack Of All Trades, Master of None.”

Do you agree paying too much attention to and copying competitor product features is a bad idea?



Sudip Verma
Sudip Verma
Corporate Strategy, Sales Operations

Sudip is in charge of Corporate Strategy, Sales Operations at Alegeus Technologies. Previously, he worked at OpenView from 2012 until 2014 with portfolio companies to provide insights on the markets they operate in, their customers, and drive development of business strategies.
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