Two thirds of businesses confess to copycat marketing

More than two thirds of businesses confess to 'copycat' marketing, pinching marketing techniques of competitors in the hopes of achieving similar results.

New research finds two in three businesses use copycat techniques, in which they copy the marketing messages or techniques of their competitors in the hopes of achieving similar results. Of those that confessed to copying competitors, more than half stated that they actively follow their competitors with the intention of following their lead and a third confess to putting out more copycat material than original.

The number of businesses that rely on their competitors to lead the way when it comes to marketing has been revealed, with two out of three business owners confessing that they have used copycat marketing techniques inspired by their competition, with a third of these putting out more ‘copycat’ material than material they have created themselves. In spite of this being so widespread, just one in five believe that their copycat tactics have garnered results as successful as the original.

The research was conducted by the team at LearnInbound. 954 small business owners took part in the survey, all of whom have active online and social media presences across a range of sectors.

Firstly, all business owners were asked ‘Have you ever used copycat marketing techniques?’, described as ones closely inspired by competitors. Two thirds of respondents (67 per cent) state they had and, of these, 52 per cent state they ‘actively follow competitors on social media’ in order to keep up with and replicate their marketing campaigns.

In order to find out how prolific copycat marketing material is, the business owners who confessed to copying their competitors were then asked, ‘How much copycat material do you send out, compared to original material?’ to which a third (34 per cent) state they use more copycat material than original, and a further 29 per cent state that it’s an equal amount, leaving just 37 per cent that originate more marketing campaigns and material than they copy.

All relevant respondents were then asked if they had achieved similar results to the original marketing that they had been inspired by, to which only 24 per cent stated that it had been as successful whilst the remaining respondents (76 per cent) stated that their results had not been as successful. None of the respondents had achieved more successful results than their competitors.

Mark Scully, founder of LearnInbound comments, ‘There is a huge advantage to being the first mover in a market and providing original content; trends and interests grow old very quickly and audiences quickly tire of the same messages or tactics. Having said that, most of us are inspired by others, so it makes sense to keep an eye on competitors and learn from their successes – and their mistakes. Providing it is inspiration rather than replication, there’s no harm in this at all.’

Further reading on copycat marketing

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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