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50 Examples of Competitive Disadvantage

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A competitive disadvantage is a condition or circumstance that causes you to lag the competition in a particular area. The following are illustrative examples.
Higher costs
Poor location
Limited distribution
Low brand recognition
Low product quality
Poor service culture
Inability to change
Slow time to market
Inability to manage complex projects
Lack of creativity and inventiveness
Lack of product features
Slow response to customers
Disconnected from market realities
Poor user interfaces
Product improvements that make products worse
Inefficient systems
Inefficient processes
Inefficient supply chain
Low performing partners
Low performing employees
Negative company culture
Lack of response to customer feedback
Lack of response to poor reviews
Customer input doesn’t drive product improvements
Ineffective advertising
High employee turnover
Employee absenteeism
Poor customer service
Inefficient legacy technologies
Corporate narcissism
Culture of mediocrity
Hierarchies based on seniority over performance
Employees with exaggerated sense of entitlement
Poor product positioning
High debt
Limited access to capital
Poor customer relationships
Higher overhead costs
Internal red tape
Inability to scale
Poor ethical practices
Reputational issues
Aging facilities, infrastructure and equipment
Small size relative to competitors
The inefficiencies of very large firms such as communication overhead
Trade barriers
Vulnerability to product knockoffs and imitators
Inefficient product variety
Overreliance on a small number of employees or partners


An expensive, slow, error prone or unusable technology platform.


In many cases, a small firm is at a disadvantage to a larger firm simply because they lack the resources to compete in areas such as product development and advertising.


An online retailer that sells only shoes may be at a disadvantage to a retailer that sells everything because people tend to want to shop at one place.


The coffee shop across the street from a busy train station may outperform the one three blocks from the station.


An unknown brand is at a disadvantage to a widely recognized and respected brand.


A more expensive cost per unit or overhead costs can be a dangerous disadvantage in any industry that produces commodities.


In many cases, customers will purchase from firms that align with their values such as respect for people and the environment. If your firm has a poor ethical climate this can be a significant disadvantage and risk.


A bloated large firm with a political culture and low motivation amongst employees may be vastly less productive than a small, aggressive firm.


A reputation for low quality such as low rankings on review sites.


Lacking features in products and services that are in high demand by customers.


Processes that are error prone, slow or expensive relative to the competition.
Overview: Competitive Disadvantage
A condition or circumstance that causes a firm to lag the competition in a particular area.
Related Concepts
Next: SWOT Weaknesses
More about competitive advantage:
Absolute Advantage
Bargaining Power
Barriers To Entry
Business Cluster
Business Scale
Business Strengths
Competitive Differentiation
Competitive Parity
Competitive Pressure
Cost Advantage
Cost Innovation
Cost Strategy
Critical Mass
Customer Satisfaction
Digital Maturity
Distinctive Capability
Economic Advantage
Economies Of Density
Economies Of Scale
Economies Of Scope
Experience Economy
Information Advantage
Information Asymmetry
Market Position
Market Power
More With Less
Network Effect
Organizational Culture
Price Leadership
Product Development
Relational Capital
Relative Advantage
Risk Management
Strategic Advantage
Switching Barriers
Switching Costs
Trade Secrets
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Experience Economy

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