Market intelligence is a term that is widely used, widely misunderstood, and often mistaken for a mysterious art requiring high-level detective work. Before providing advice on how market intelligence can potentially benefit your business, it is therefore essential that we begin this paper by agreeing on a definition. It is defined by Wikipedia as follows: “Market Intelligence is the information relevant to a company’s markets, gathered and analyzed specifically for the purpose of accurate and confident decision-making in determining market opportunity, market penetration strategy, and market development metrics. In simple terms, market intelligence is information that is gathered for the purpose of making business decisions.
It is largely synonymous with market research, the systematic gathering, recording, analysis and interpretation of information about a company’s markets, competitors and customers. * Types of Intelligence Sources Intelligence can be described as the summary of internal and external data and information, paired with expertise and experience in any given environment and brought into context with the own doing and goals.
Primarily though, market & competitive intelligence is based on sources providing the critical mass and substance to deal with as it comes to knowledge of any type. External Market & Competitive Intelligence Sources External market & competitive intelligence sources can and should provide a rich and realistic view of the external environment any business is operating in. Market & competitive intelligence has become a major marketing discipline and industry supplying much needed insights into business figures and trends.
Desk Research for Intelligence Desk research might be the most common intelligence discipline regardless how advanced the organizations intelligence programs and systems are. Published information and data, pushed by partners, consultants and MI specialists as well internal resources pointing towards external intelligence is being scoured, gathered and pre-analyzed. Acquired Intelligence & Market Reports Industry reports, market studies and other business intelligence are being made available in many formats and sizes.
Any industry or market have their major players in terms of research, market observation and monitoring who create and provide studies, reports, overviews, key market data, trends and indicators. Business Journals & Trade Magazines Business journals and trade magazines are excellent intelligence sources for both market intelligence as well as competitive intelligence. Most importantly here, the intelligence consuming organization needs to make sense of it all. Condensing and bringing relevant intelligence into context of immediate business needs and long term market strategies are crucial elements of intelligence preparation.
Industry & Market Newsletters Keeping customers and partners in the loop of developments and offers can be done quite effectively via newsletters that are delivered in hard copy format or electronically. Not only is this a crucial customer retention measure but a competitive tool as well where customers find another comparison opportunity across products and service offers. Individual Intelligence Subscriptions A large corporation with thousands of employees hardly has any overview of how many subscriptions are being ordered and offered to staff. Subscription providers never care about consolidation.
Neither do bothered employees if asked to openly acknowledge their subscriptions to market websites, news portals or periodicals. Market Intelligence: Wholesale Sourcing Drop Shipping, Bulk Wholesaling, General Wholesaling, Liquidation / Overstock Sourcing are sourcing strategies that need and naturally produce a lot of intelligence both market intelligence and competitive intelligence. External Soft Intelligence Any sales force and other field operators possess and handle unbelievable amounts of external intelligence about customers, market players, associations, industries and events with all developments and dynamics.
Not to utilize this vast amount of intelligence in any organizations is a major competitive disadvantage. Internal Market & Competitive Intelligence Sources Most important and generally of extremely high value are internal sources for business intelligence. Legacy systems, ERP, any transactional data as well as soft information such as meeting transcripts and verbal communication with customers, suppliers and partners need to be exploited. The intelligence found in internal resources such as management and marketing or sales force is invaluable for any business decision.
Business Data & Databases Major databases such as ERP systems, legacy systems, transactional data archived and stored for reference should be considered standard intelligence as they provide the very base for any data comparison and measurement. As well as for external intelligence, soft knowledge residing in the heads of the employees regarding internal view of markets and customers, competitors and other business variables can be invaluable for the entire intelligence prospective.
Utilize Internal Soft Knowledge. As well as for external intelligence, soft knowledge residing in the heads of the employees regarding internal view of markets and customers, competitors and other business variables can be invaluable for the entire intelligence prospective. * Steps to be taken by a Company to improve its Marketing Intelligence (1) Train and Motivate Sales Force: A company’s sales force can be an excellent source of information about the current trends in the market. They are the “intelligence gatherers” for the company. The acquired facts can be egarding the company’s market offerings, whether any improvements are required or not or is there any opportunity for new products, etc. It can also provide credible source to know about competitor activities, consumers, distributors and retailers. (2) Motivate Distributors, retailers, and other intermediaries to pass along important intelligence: Specialists are hired by companies to gather marketing intelligence. In order to measure the quality of production, the way the employees are behaving with customers, quality of facilities being provided; retailers and service providers send mystery shoppers.
Firms can also assess the quality of customer experience with the shops with the use of mystery shoppers. (3) Network Externally: Every firm must keep a tab on its competitors. Competitive intelligence describes the broader discipline of researching, analyzing and formulating data and information from the entire competitive environment of any organization. This can be done by purchasing the competitor’s products, checking the advertising campaigns, the press media coverage, reading their published reports, etc. Competitive intelligence must be legal and ethical. 4) Set up a customer advisory panel: Companies can set up panels consisting of customers. They can be the company’s largest customers or representatives of customers or the most outspoken customers. Many business schools set up panels consisting of alumni who provide their knowledge and expertise and help in constituting the course curriculum. (5) Optimal usage of Government data resources: Governments of almost all countries publish reports regarding the population trends, demographic characteristics, agricultural production and a lot of other such data.
All this data must be or can be referred to as base data. It can help in planning and formulating policies for the companies. (6) Information bought from external suppliers: Certain agencies sell data that can be useful to other companies. For example, television channels will require information on the number of viewership, ratings of TV programs, etc. An agency which calculates this information and generates this data will provide it to companies that need it. (7) Collect Competitive Intelligence through online customer feedback: Customer’s view about a product is most essential for any company.
Ultimately it’s the customer who’s buying the product. Hence customer feedback must be taken. Online platforms like chat rooms, blogs, discussion forums, customer review boards can be used to generate customer feedback. This enables the firm to understand customer experiences and impressions. It becomes easier for companies to apply a structured system to do so as it can then scan out the relevant messages without much of a trouble. With the above steps being applied, a company’s marketing intelligence system will prove to be beneficial to its effective functioning.