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While it might seem counterintuitive, studies have shown that praising your competition is one of the best ways to advertise your brand. Speaking highly of competitors shows the public that your company can acknowledge worthy adversaries, give compliments when necessary, and displays a more humane side of business much needed in our increasingly cynical world.
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Kit-Kat’s Tweet Experiment
One study from the Harvard Business Review exposed participants to a tweet from Kit-Kat in which they congratulated Twix on being in business for 54 years. Participants who got shown this tweet were 34% more likely to buy Kit-Kats in the succeeding 11 days than any other candy brand. As observed from this experiment, simple acts of positivity like uplifting a competitor can resonate with customers.
Praising is effective toward a direct competitor
Subsequent studies were conducted with ride-sharing services, media, tech companies, and food, all of which show that customers are more likely to support brands praising their competitors. Increased engagement on social media between brands and customers indicated that their positivity forms deeper connections with customers, especially compared to brands who only acknowledge their competition to put them down.
Interestingly, these acts of praise only proved to be beneficial when directed towards a direct competitor. Similar sentiments to unrelated companies did not yield the same results. Harvard Business Review also conducted a study in which an eyeglass company publicly praised a hamburger brand. The result showed that both the eyeglass company’s sales and the public image remained largely the same.
The difference in results between cross-sector and inter-sector praise is likely due to the consensus that there is bad blood between most popular brands in related business sectors. Expressing warmth and kindness to a company competing in the same market as your own makes an impact by improving their public image. NPR has covered a few instances where companies attacked their competitors, which caused their sales to drop.