Competitive Intelligence Research and Market Intelligence

3 December 2021
10min
Marketing
Competitive Intelligence Research and Market Intelligence

Business activities are now performed in a world where information is available to everyone at their fingertips. Useful data that can be used to gain more market share can now be found on the internet, in magazines, newspapers, etc. With the right questions and research strategy, your findings will pilot your business to the sky.

Unfortunately, access to this information is not limited to only your reach. Other businesses that are in the same industry as you can get their hands on them and sometimes they even get to them before you do, which leaves you lagging behind. Also, businesses source information about their competitors and use their findings against them to scale up and attract more customers to their brands.

So, if you must be at the forefront of all these happenings, you must be the first to carry them out. Not just the first, you must do them in a better way than your competitors could. You must pry into all the market factors that affect your business if not, you’ll lag behind.

In this article, we will explain to you how to gain knowledge of your market faster and better than your competitors and other factors that affect your business.

What is Market Intelligence?

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Before you step foot into a market, you must have done your findings to project how far your effort will yield. These findings help as a guide throughout every step you take while initiating your idea. The process of carrying out these findings is “Market Intelligence.”

In a more detailed manner, Market Intelligence can be described as data collected, gathered, and analyzed by a business from the market in which it operates or intends to step foot into in order to identify market penetration strategies, market segmentation, opportunities, and threats, risks, and other existing market statistics.

Market intelligence is essential for understanding how the market operates and it helps in getting insight into the affairs of other market factors, which boosts your chances of having a successful business. Market intelligence can also be likened to market research, and it can be split into three main subdivisions – competitive intelligence, product intelligence, and market understanding.

Competitive Intelligence

Competitive intelligence can be defined as the process of gathering, examining, and analyzing information about competitors through ethical means in order to have a strong foot in the industry.

According to Dishman and Pearson, Competitive Intelligence is a process of knowing what the competition is up to and staying one step ahead of them, by gathering information about competitors and, ideally, applying it to short and long-term strategic planning.

Product Intelligence

Product intelligence is described as gathering and analyzing data of competitors’ products in the market. There are four stages to every product life cycle. They are:

  • Introduction/Market Development
  • Growth
  • Maturing
  • Decline

You need to follow up on your competitors’ products to know the stage at which their product is and whether they intend to rebrand or introduce another product into the market. With knowledge of this, you can make better plans to claim the market when their products have gotten to the decline stage.

Market Understanding

Market understanding can be described as knowing how the market is and where you stand. It consists of knowing the total market size available, the market share your business holds, market trends, and which other market is your prospect. Understanding market demand and customers’ desires can greatly assist your business in having a better market positioning.

Brief Introduction of Market Intelligence, Competitor Intelligence, and Business Intelligence

These three variables are usually mistaken to mean the same. A lot of people think market intelligence is the same as competitive intelligence and business intelligence, whereas they are different. However, they are all strategies that can be used to skyrocket business performance.

As market intelligence has been described above, it is gaining knowledge about external factors that influence your business. It has to do with taking into cognizance every threat that your competitors pose, studying your competitors’ products, analyzing market patterns and trends, as well as other dynamics in the market that assist you in making strategic and tactical decisions.

Competitive intelligence, on the other hand, is a subset of marketing intelligence. A company that conducts market intelligence must also carry out competitive intelligence to have a better result.

Unlike others, business intelligence deals with internal factors i.e., elements within your organization. It refers to all of the internally generated data that a business uses to make decisions. For example, production inputs, sales proceeds, organizational behavior, and financial data are internally generated information that a firm uses to make decisions that will improve its brand. Business intelligence is used to improve a company’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like adequate utilization of resources, profitability, and operational efficiency.

Why is Market Intelligence Important?

For a business to strive in its industry, it must continually perform market intelligence. Adequate market information is one of the most important components in implementing solid business plans. Market intelligence is critical to every company’s success since it serves as the foundation for all marketing efforts. It requires the acquisition of data, analysis, and application of the information in making a better decision.

Market intelligence enables you to become more customer-minded, gain a better understanding of market demands and see from customers’ perspectives, collect real-time data, increase your upselling chances, decrease risks, increase market share, and gain a competitive advantage. These advantages are so numerous and they are critical to the success of any organization.

Explained below are some of the reasons why marketing intelligence is very important for every organization.

- Priorities of customers’ needs: In the business world, there is a popular saying that goes thus: “Customers are always right.” In every of your business activities, you must consider the end-user (customers) because if they are not satisfied with your move, you can lose them to competition.

Market intelligence helps you know what customers want; it helps you get into their heads. With the knowledge of what their pain points are, you will be able to make products and decisions that will resonate with them.

- Better market positioning: Market positioning means the way you are perceived by customers i.e., what comes to their minds when they think about your brand. With market intelligence, you will be able to position your business well in the minds of the audience.

You will know what part of the industry to focus on. Taking the phone industry for example, after conducting market intelligence, Apple noticed that people needed luxurious phones with a quality camera, hence, the production of the iPhone. Another example is BMW. There are many brands producing cars nowadays, but whenever people see the BMW emblem, what comes to their mind is quality and sporty features.

- Expansion of market share: You will gain a thorough understanding of the market by conducting market intelligence. It will provide you with information on who your customers are, market demands, what your competitors are doing, and who your target audiences are. Analyzing this data will allow you to strategize to gain more grounds.

With market intelligence, you can claim market share from businesses that are not doing their due diligence to retain their customers. Also, after utilizing the knowledge gained from market intelligence, your business becomes the go-to brand for audiences who are new to your industry.

- Retention of customers: Customers, no matter how long they’ve been patronizing a brand, are constantly being watched by other brands. Other businesses are on the lookout to see when you will falter. All they need from you is a nonchalant moment and your customers will be for the taking.

Therefore, understanding when and why your customers are dissatisfied with your product/service helps you to avoid losing them. Market intelligence enables you in analyzing and gaining insights into the areas where customers are seeking for improvement, allowing you to understand them and retain them.

- Reduces risk: In business, especially in the external environment, there are a lot of risks and uncertainties that could affect your business’s success. Remember, you are not the only success determinant in the market; you also have the customers, suppliers, government, etc. So, many things are not within your control.

However, with effective market intelligence, you will reduce uncertainties. By analyzing data and prior knowledge of events, you will be able to deduce what is set to happen and then plan ahead.

- Increase operational efficiency: With little effort, businesses that have performed market intelligence will be successful. They will know areas on the market where they are to put more resources and other areas where they are to focus little attention on.

Marketing intelligence assists brands in increasing overall productivity and efficiency by noticing gaps, providing actionable insights for developing critical strategies, and providing real-time data and analytics to an organization.

- Increase in revenue: Knowledge of the market enables you to take advantage of every opportunity that exists, thereby ending up with more sales and profit. A thorough understanding of the market can quickly lead to a business’s success.

Also, for businesses with a wide range of products and many customers, deciding on the aspect to put more effort is sometimes a problem. But with market intelligence, you will learn how to segment your market, allowing you to easily fathom which product will be more productive with a set of people. It also informs you about the segment of the market that you need to make short-term plans for and those that require long-term plans.

- Competitive advantage: In today’s business world, conducting surveys to acquire intelligence about your competition is critical. You can use this information to adjust your products based on market demand, understand competitors’ successes and failures, and develop strategies based on your competitors’ positions.

The phrase “first-mover advantage” or “launching a product at the right time” is commonly heard in business circles. These are only achievable with the help of market information. Market intelligence provides a thorough view of the market, allowing you to penetrate or gain market share by delivering a product or a new feature at the appropriate time, providing you with a competitive advantage.

- Improved decision-making: This is an embodiment of all the advantages that come with market intelligence. Prior knowledge of market information enables you to be able to make decisions that will skyrocket your business. You will be able to make decisions to avoid risk and decisions to attract opportunities, thereby putting your business at the forefront of happenings in your industry.

How to Perform Market Intelligence?

Most companies come up with their pattern of performing market intelligence, but there are three basic steps to it. No matter how long or short the list of a business’ market intelligence is, the whole steps are still encapsulated in three specific stages – data collection, data analysis, and decision making.

Data Collection

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Data collection is simply the gathering of data from different sources in order to analyze them and come out with a better decision. There are many means through which data can be obtained. Some of them are:

Surveys

Surveys refer to a set of questions put together in a short form to be able to make decisions regarding your market, target customers, customers, etc. The more people you get to participate in your survey determines the reliability of the result.

Surveys can be conducted in three forms – direct/in-person survey, telephone survey, and online survey.

- Direct/in-person survey: This is the traditional form of survey. It has to do with physically interviewing the audience and making inquiries about your product, what customers like about your product, what could have been better, asking about your competitors, and every other factor that in one way or the other influences the success of your business.

To get more responses, these one-on-one interviews can be conducted in high-traffic areas like malls, markets, product events, etc. This enables you to gather your audiences’ immediate feedback through words and body language. You also have the benefit of introducing new products to them and explaining how it works and why it’s better than your competitors’.

Although this method has a high response rate, it demands a lot of human labor. For you to be able to get in touch with many customers, you will have to allocate employees to strategic places. Also, you should provide a communicating device, so that they will be able to update themselves on what puts customers off and what attracts them.

- Telephone Survey: This form of the survey has to do with speaking with customers over the phone. Note that this survey can only be done with loyal customers who have been with the brand for a long time. Because persuading prospective customers to participate in a telephone survey can be challenging, resulting in a low-quality response rate.

Through phone calls, you can ask your customers about how they feel about your latest development, the other brands in the industry that can be matched to you, and those that are above you. Also, ask for their challenges and opinion on what added features they will like to be on your product.

- Online survey: This is the cheapest, yet the best form of survey. It can be done at the comfort of your home without you putting a face to the name asking questions. In fact, sometimes, it can be done without you indicating your brand name to avoid hit-backs. You can do this by asking questions in comment sections.

It’s no news that the majority of the world’s population are already making use of the internet and this trend is set to increase until the internet appeals to more people, so it’s only appropriate that businesses change to the new way of life. Brands should become more active on the internet, social media, and all online space.

Ask questions and engage your customers with real-time developments. Also, ask about other brands and products that come close to yours. Don’t forget to ask about businesses and products that they hold in high esteem more than yours; ask for the reason(s) why they think those businesses are better.

Another thing that should be noted is that customers need quick reactions to their engagements. You’ll get better feedback if you respond on time. So, it is beneficial that you get an online assistant tool that can do that. For example, Socialays – an AI-Based Social Media Assistant.

Polls

This is very similar to a survey, but you only get to ask one question. Answering this question takes a little time as you would have presented a couple of suggested answers. All customers have to do is to choose one answer that is closely related to their opinion. This type of data collection gives a high rate of response.

Questionnaires

Questionnaires are a set of questions that are usually in printed or online formats. They contain inquiries that are concise and well-explained. Sometimes, options are attached to these questions.

Questionnaires can be used for both qualitative and quantitative research, and they can be used to collect data from a large number of people.

Focus Group

This is a group of people specifically chosen to represent a target market. A business can use focus group platforms to know customers’ demands, as well as solicit input from the group. This allows a business to collect data that will assist them to break into a new market or launch a new product in an existing industry.

Typically, a moderator is necessary to pose the questions in a group of people, after which a discussion uncovers new information about the subject.

Focus group surveys, on the other hand, can now be conducted entirely online, obviating the need for a moderator. You can use your business social media account to organize focus groups, where you ask questions and your customers respond through various forms of engagement. So, you gather the engagement, analyze them and come up with a decision affecting their concerns. You can as well employ the assistance of a technology tool like Socialays to collate and analyze these engagements. The social media assistant classifies reactions and engagements into various sections that depict a feeling and intent.

Observations

When other sources of data fail to provide you with reliable information or insights into customers’ opinions, preferences, and purchasing behavior, observation could be the way out. A lot of things can be noticed in silence. Take time to observe who your customers are and what they want. Know their kind of person and the type of product that appeals to them, for example, quality, quantity, luxury, etc.

Understanding this data will enable a business to sell more effectively and make product modifications in response to market demand.

Data Analysis

Data are just raw facts that mean nothing if they are left how they are. So, the data you’ve collected must be processed into information for you to be able to make sense of what customers, competitors, and market trends are insinuating. When the analysis is performed on the gathered data, you will be able to translate it into useful information, and then intelligence, which means relevant data that can be used to take action.

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You can also make use of market intelligence software to collect data as well as evaluate it using modern analytical methods. The analysis will help you to better understand your target market’s viewpoints, trends, and competition, as well as where improvements or changes are necessary.

Decision Making

This is the last stage of the market intelligence process. It has to do with the usage of all the processed data (information) gathered. After you’ve collected and analyzed data, you have to make decisions on how you can best resolve every complaint of your customers, provide solutions to their pain points, have a better competitive advantage, and be at the forefront of every market trend.

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Conclusion

Market intelligence is a business tactic that every brand must incorporate to be successful. There are a lot of brands in the same industry as you, so you must endeavor to stand out in order to be noticed by customers. With market intelligence, you’ll have knowledge of customers’ perspectives, have a competitive advantage, and learn how to beat every negative market trend.

In this article, we have explained in detail what you stand to gain if you perform market intelligence and we’ve also discussed step-by-step processes on how to perform it.

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