We examine compensation contracts for managers in imperfectly competitive product markets. We show that strategic interactions among firms can explain the lack of relative performance-based incentives in which compensation decreases with rival firm performance. The need to soften product market competition generates an optimal compensation contract that places a positive weight on both own and rival performance. Firms in more competitive industries place greater weight on rival firm performance relative to own firm performance. We find empirical evidence of a positive sensitivity of compensation to rival firm performance that is increasing in the degree of competition in the industry.