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6 min read

How to identify potential threats in the market

Customer & Market Research

While the world of business is pretty sweet, for the most part, there are pesky bumps in the road that’ll trip us up, if we’re not on our toes.

Tricky scenarios can rear their ugly head and jeopardize the market at any moment. So, why not prepare yourself, identify potential threats early, and kick them in the ass when they come knocking?

As the saying goes: ‘All failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation’, right?

Adaptability: Is it really important?

Would James Bond leave MI5 without his nifty gadgets? Would Batman leave the Batcave without his Batsuit? Heck, Hermione Granger and her wand were inseparable for the most part.

Point being, these all provided our icons of the silver screen with sources of protection against the evils within their respective realms and adaptability will be the kryptonite against any threats posed to your market, so don’t leave home without it!

Currently, COVID-19 is glaring right at us, acting as a constant reminder that a company unwilling to adapt is hammering a nail in its figurative coffin.

Change, like death and taxes, is one of life's unavoidable truths, more so in the market, an area that’s always prone to threats. So, heed our words of wisdom: Think fast and adapt swiftly, to maintain your performance. Who knows? You could even improve your existing performance levels, in the process.

Types of threats

Some companies make mammoth profits and house 100s of staff in state-of-the-art offices, while others are operated by a guy working in his pajamas at home, generating a steady income.

This means nothing, zilch, diddly-squat when it comes to protection against market threats.

The business boogieman can target any company at any time, and trust us, he isn’t the finicky type. So, to protect yourself in a hostile market, identifying different types of threats is critical.

Not sure where to begin? Don't worry, we’ve got you covered.

New competitors

The market never stands still, and there are new businesses, i.e. new competition, emerging all the time.

With competitors always ready to swoop in and mop up the market share, it’s essential that business owners stay sharp and don’t rest on their laurels, particularly given it’s much harder to win or regain old customers than it is to keep existing ones happy.

Rival firms will try to coax your customers with lower costs and updated products. However, if you’re proactive and introduce an effective counter-strategy, you’ll be well-equipped to beat off the competition. If not, you could wind up picking up the pieces.

The internet is a simple, yet highly effective tool for monitoring the activity of industry competitors, with tools like Klue, Crayon and Kompyte an awesome way to stay on-trend, and put together a competitive threat analysis.

P.s. For tons more tried, tested and recommended competitive intel tools, head here.

P.s.s. Here’s a closer look at how to gather and stay on top of competitor intel with IBM’s VP of Product Marketing.

New products

Consumers are constantly craving new products, and if a competitor launches a superior product, this will threaten your profitability.

For example, Nokia was once the market leader in the cell phone industry, but after a period of dominance, they failed to adapt their product and didn’t offer the customer what they wanted. This opened up a window of opportunity for Apple to launch its revolutionary, state-of-the-art iPhone, and the rest, as they say, is history.

A product development department responsible for development strategies (with your input, of course!) can make sure you’re the go-to guy in your industry, offering awesome products that aren’t ousted by rivals.

Moreover, there are always new products entering the market that could be snapped up and added to your product in the form of a software update, for example, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking new products are required every time - sometimes, a new feature, or set of messaging, or positioning, or market segment, is enough to give you a leg up and set you apart.

Remember, companies aren’t happy until they reach the peak of their powers and it’s the job of a rival product developer to knock you off your perch. If you wanna keep that window slammed shut, keep on listening to your customers and improving your offerings.


Over time, society, and the people within it, change, and while this can be beneficial, it can also work to the detriment of the market.

Take the car industry, for example. The 1980s spawned an age shaped by Miami Vice racers, with petrol heads desperately seeking to satisfy their need for speed.

Fast-forward to 2020 and demands within the market have changed significantly. Now, 'saving the planet' is cool, and drivers are in the market for electric cars, keen to contribute to a more green environment.

With sales of electric cars increasing, this has prompted car manufacturers who previously dedicated their efforts to performance cars to change tack and jump on the electrically powered bandwagon, in fear of getting left behind.

In short, they’ve spotted a threat, adapted, and lived to tell the tale.


Technology is continuing to revolutionize the face of society; it’s at the forefront of our lives and how businesses operate.

Let’s not kid ourselves: generally speaking, technology is awesome, and we’d be lost without it. But, this doesn’t mean it’s our best buddy all of the time, especially in a business sense.

While tech has had a profoundly positive impact on how a business operates, some platforms have been developed and pose threats to prospective company owners.

For example, Mark Zuckerberg has poked the living daylights out of some high street merchants following the launch of Facebook Marketplace, with the forum offering users the platform to shop at reduced prices and with increased convenience.

You want to be the Mark Zuckerberg of your marketplace, not the high street merchant.


Political developments can have a considerable impact on how an industry operates, (no, this isn’t ‘fake news’). Circumstances often arise whereby regulations enforced by the government have an overwhelming influence on the economy.

For example, if interest rates were increased, lending costs would go up and consumers would suddenly be reluctant to part with their hard-earned cash.

Because these factors are introduced by government officials, they are law enforced. As a result, companies must adapt accordingly and consider how legislation like this could have a direct impact on how they conduct their business affairs.


Some things we can forecast with absolute certainty: daytime following night, or vice versa - you get the gist. Yet, the economy is the mother of unpredictability and is often the bane of many businesses.

Economic performance can influence business performance, considerably. For instance, as we mentioned earlier, when inflation rates are high, prices go up, and this dynamic pricing strategy can drive away customers who may become disgruntled with new costs.

In addition to inflation, poor foreign exchange rates and global recessions can also jeopardize business performance.

How to stay informed

While keeping a watchful gaze on potential threats and adapting may seem like Mission Impossible, especially in this day and age, it doesn’t have to be so hard. Let’s be honest, when you want to check sports scores or celebrity gossip, it’s easy enough, and this doesn’t differ too much, you just need to look in the right place.

Social media and the internet

Social media and the internet are both home to a breadth of valuable information that can help you stay well-informed, and keep you one step ahead of the game, in turn, helping you protect your business from those pesky market threats.

Handy push notifications can be set up on social media apps including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, as well as news apps such as Bloomberg and the BBC, to keep you posted on key developments, allowing you to act promptly.


Podcasts are an awesome source of digestible content, focusing on every topic imaginable, and not only are they an entertaining way to stay ahead of the game, but they’re also absolutely free.

There are TONS of podcasts to get stuck into, (including our shows Product Marketing Life, and Product Marketing Insider). By simply hitting subscribe, you can swot up on the latest political debates, emerging technological trends, and economic developments, without breaking a sweat.

Mobile apps

Last year, there were two-million apps uploaded to the App Store.

Among the deluge of addictive games, *ahem, Candy Crush...* some apps offer considerably more value and ensure you stay informed on key developments, including:

  • Apple News
  • Google News
  • Al Jazeera English
  • BBC News

The beauty of mobile apps is their customization, ensuring you can get the news you need when you want it - and don’t forget about Google Alerts, either, it’s an oldie but a goldie!


Last but not least, and focusing on the competitor landscape alone, there are endless apps out there with one mission: to help you keep track of your competition - always. Some of the top dogs in the industry include:

And you can find 100s more, over in our Product Marketing Tools of Choice directory.

So, now that we’ve equipped you with essential knowledge, it’s time to put the contingency plans in place to protect your company if a threat does make an unwanted cameo appearance.

Written by:

Lawrence Chapman

Lawrence Chapman

Lawrence is our Copywriter here at PMA who loves crafting content to keep readers informed, entertained, and enthralled. He's always open to feedback and would be thrilled to hear from you!

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How to identify potential threats in the market