Want to break into a new market discovered by a competitor?


We’re learning how to find and target another brand’s early adopters.

My client is launching a product into a new category but they’re not first into this market. A competitor has recently established itself and generated big sales, which is great because it proves customer demand actually exists.

We’re therefore more than curious to discover who the early adopters are that buy our competitor’s brand. But how can we do this when information is thin on the ground?

Here’s something we tried that seems to be working. Our competitor has around 10,000 followers on Twitter. We used Twitter’s free Public API to drawn down the user profiles for each of our competitor’s followers. This data usually contains a short personal description that people write about themselves in natural language.

This profile data is incredibly rich but can be difficult to analyse at scale because it’s totally free-form and unstructured. However, there are a bunch of Natural Language Analysis techniques we can use to make this stuff useful.

We began by running all of the personal descriptions we got from Twitter’s API through a semantic tagging app. This classified all of the different things people said about themselves into meaningful semantic categories such as Family, Information Technology, Science, Education, Art and Music etc.

After a little manual refinement we developed 40 bespoke semantic categories that were statistically significant within the personal descriptions of the early adopters who follow (and presumably buy) our competitor’s product (see Chart 1).

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This information begins to paint a useful picture of the early adopters we’re trying to reach and understand, but we can take the analysis further. We used a graph-based segmentation analysis to group individuals into clusters based on the semantic tags that appeared in their self-descriptions. This yielded 9 early adopter customer segments with rich personality characteristics that we can target with our brand launch proposition (see Chart 2).

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The largest group in this emerging market sector (16%) are “Creative & arty” types. A typical self description for this group reads, “Graphic designer, love my job, photography, nature trails, waterfalls, the coast and LAUGHTER”.

My personal favourites are the “Ironman Entrepreneurs” – this group seem so clear to me. 80% are men, 8% live in the SF Bay Area and a typical self-description goes like this, “Entrepreneur interested in technology, innovation, extreme fitness, free expression, sustainable development, exponential results, and wide-scale collaboration”.

Now I feel more confident about who these early adopters are and what they need to hear from us to consider switching brands. All thanks to a bit of free data from Twitter!

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