What Is Comparative Advertising? (With Samples and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 17, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Companies use various types of advertising to reach out to consumers and persuade them to purchase their products. Comparative advertising is effective among the different advertising when a company has one or more key competitors. Understanding and applying the basics of this advertising can help you become a more advanced marketer and build industry knowledge. In this article, we discuss what it is, provide some samples, highlight its advantages, and explain its best practices.

What is comparative advertising?

Comparative advertising is a promotional strategy where marketing professionals identify the differences between a business and its direct competitors to persuade customers to try a particular product or service. Comparative advertisements emphasize how your company's products and services are better than similar ones available on the market. When creating advertising campaigns, you can choose to compare the product with a single competitor, a range of other companies in your field, or a fictional representation of your competition. Comparative advertisements include audio, text, or visuals that summarize why your products are superior.

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Examples of comparative advertisements

Here are examples of different comparative advertisement strategies to give you an idea of how you can build your own:

Comparing value

Some comparative ads quantify the value of one product compared to a competitor's to attract business. When a company claims their product is five times as effective or you need two bottles of the competing product to accomplish what our product does in one bottle, they use this type of comparative ad. For example, a soap company may show one bar of their soap next to four bars of a competitor's soap to show that they offer four times as much value.

Emphasizing lifestyle

A common advertising strategy is to focus on the user's lifestyle instead of specific product features or its design. Commercials that illustrate the user of one product having an ideal lifestyle while showing the opposite for competitors' customers present the potential benefits of one product over the other. For example, a car company may advertise someone driving one of their car models to a variety of fun and exciting events, while someone in a competing model drives around running boring errands.

Taste tests

Running taste tests and sharing the results is a common way to use this advertising strategy to sell food products. Removing all branding, having a customer share their opinion, then revealing that your product was the one they preferred is a popular formula for taste-test comparisons. For example, a yogurt company may run a taste test with three different flavours of yogurt and find that most participants preferred their flavour.

Live demos

Live demonstrations of how one product works compared to another are a classic example of advertising. This is especially common in infomercials that showcase the speed or effectiveness of one product next to a similar ineffective product. For instance, a company may advertise that their food processor is faster and more reliable than the competing brand with a demonstration comparing how long it takes to process different foods.

Real customer feedback

Using customer testimonials about how much more they like your product than another is a common type of advertising. You can use quotes from satisfied customers who switched from a competitor to show your superiority without discussing the competitor's actual products or services. You can also use social media platforms to collect feedback from your customers, which you can then repost as endorsements on your website.

Sharing statistics

Using statistics about how well a product works compared to similar offerings is another popular example of advertising. It can help to compare your product against others in the industry, or you can compare it to a fictional version of competing products. For example, phone companies often share information about their network's coverage compared to competitors using concrete details from independent studies to attract customers.

Side-by-side visuals

Many companies show their product side-by-side with a similar product and outline the key differences. Using actual product images makes it easy for customers to see exactly why one product is superior, letting them draw their conclusions, and helping them feel confident in their purchasing choice. Companies use this type of comparison in television commercials, online ads, product packaging, and even free samples.

Non-specific comparisons

When businesses use terms like the leading brand or other products without actually showing a competitor's brand, they're implementing non-specific comparisons. These usually involve grouping all competitors together and focusing on the main value their products offer customers. It may not be as direct as a comparison of a specific product, but it can still give customers the information to make an informed decision.

Customer experience reenactments

Video commercials often show reenactments of customers using their products and a competitor's products to show how easier it is to use their brand. This is especially common in advertisements for electronics, software, and other high-tech products. For example, a local credit union may advertise their superior customer service by showing a split-screen with a customer quickly making a deposit and going about their day while the person depositing at a large banking chain sits in line.

Displaying unique features

When a product has unique features that others don't, it can be helpful to advertise those directly next to the competition. This is a great way to show customers why your product is different and how that difference can benefit them. For example, a sneaker company may display their shoes next to a competitor with a sign that reads Our shoes have more cushioning for better comfort.

What are the advantages of comparative advertisements?

Comparative advertisements have several key advantages for businesses. Some of the major benefits include:

Increases brand awareness

By highlighting the differences between different products or services, you can increase awareness of your brand among potential customers. This helps to build familiarity over time and can make it easier to connect with consumers who may be interested in your offerings. It also helps to build trust and credibility, as customers learn more about why your brand may be a better choice for them.

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Helps attract and engage customers

By focusing on what makes your product or service better than those offered by other companies, you can appeal to potential customers looking for a specific solution. This type of advertising can also help engage current customers and keep them coming back as they learn more about the unique benefits your product offers. For example, if you're constantly finding new ways to improve your product and communicate those improvements to customers, they may be more likely to continue using your product or service.

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Emphasizes on benefits

Through this advertising, companies highlight their products' benefits and compare them with other products in the market. You can convince your potential customers why they need your product and not the one from your competitor. This builds a strong relationship of trust between the customer and the company.

Uses research and data

When done correctly, it helps businesses to leverage research and data to show customers why their product is the better choice. This can include everything from customer surveys to independent research studies. By providing customers with hard data, you can show them exactly why your product is the superior choice.

Builds customer loyalty

When customers feel like they're getting a good deal on a product or service that meets their needs, they're more likely to be loyal to that brand. This can help keep them coming back, even if there are other options available. Plus, if they're happy with the product, they're more likely to recommend it to others, increasing your customer base.

Comparative advertisement best practices

Before you start preparing a comparative advertisement campaign, make sure you understand the legal implications of making claims about another company's products. To ensure your comparative ads are legally compliant, follow these best practices:

Confirm facts

When making claims about another company or their products, make sure you have the facts to back it up. Doing your research ahead of time can help you avoid any legal issues later. For example, if you're comparing the price of your product to a competitor's, make sure you're using the most up-to-date pricing information.

Conduct independent studies

If you're relying on data to support your claims, it's beneficial to ensure it comes from an independent source. This could be a third-party research study or a customer survey. Having unbiased data will help strengthen your case and make your claims more credible. You can also hire a marketing firm to conduct research on your behalf.

Be specific

Use specifics when making claims about another company's products. This could include things like price, features, or performance. Vague claims could be seen as false advertising, so it's important to be as clear and concise as possible. For example, if your research reveals that your pool testing strips give accurate results within five minutes, be clear about that claim instead of saying you have the best and most accurate testing strips on the market.

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