Market Intelligence: Anticipating the Competition

Market intelligence, marketing intelligence, competitive intelligence, or business intelligence, (BI) — different names, same objective: to provide the company with environmental and market information for strategic decision-making.

In the face of increasing competition, understanding the market, your customers and your main competitors, especially their strengths, weaknesses and strategies, can make the difference between being a successful player in the business in which you operate and an also-ran.

Market Intelligence enables you to transform data into information and knowledge about the environment, the market, customers, and competitors.

Market intelligence is nothing more than the process of identifying, collecting and analyzing information available in the market, in order to support the development of strategies and action plans enabling you to successfully reach your target audience. Using the tools of market intelligence, a company is able to capture and use diverse information and data collected on competitors, markets, trends, customers, sales, etc. This information will enable the company to improve the decision-making process, mitigate risks and improve business performance.

With market intelligence you can better understand the customer and your prospects, their desires, needs and expectations. You can identify threats and weaknesses in your business, your competition, and the best strategies for dealing with these factors, so that the company is caught by surprise. It allows you to understand how people perceive your brand, to monitor trends and detect the competition’s movement.

Market intelligence well executed enables the company, therefore, to better know current and potential customers; to understand the challenges of the market; to identify favorable opportunities for the company; to better know the market segment in which it operates; to understand how the brand is perceived by customers; to identify the main players (competitors) and their strengths and weaknesses, as well as adopted strategies; to identify and learn from market influencers; to track and even prospect for trends; to guide the sales teams towards more effective performance; to identify and develop new functionalities / applications and resources for products and services.

The information that market intelligence identifies and analyzes can be qualitative or quantitative, derived from primary information that the company has internally, such as that available in the areas of customer support, financial, billing, production, POS, social networks, e-mails, etc., or secondary information, sourced externally. If properly analyzed, this data will suggest, among other things, strategic initiatives and actions that can be taken to improve company performance. The idea is to always listen to the environment and the market, recording information to input into market intelligence, in order to identify important opportunities to be explored and to anticipate trends, as already mentioned.

Among Brazilian companies that apply competitive intelligence, we can mention Accenture, Cielo, Schincariol and Azul Airlines.

When collecting reliable information, the data collected in the field, at the point of sale, is especially important. There are several ways to do this electronically. There are, for example, smartphones apps able to collect data in the field and make it available in real time in a structured online report.

In the case of retail, for example, it is possible to capture indices of stockouts, inventory, pricing, activity in bonus point programs, promotions, merchandising materials, among many others.

Once the data are collected, the next step is to filter effectively the data most relevant to achieve your stated objectives. After that, it is analyzed to generate information and knowledge.

One of the main tools for marketing intelligence is Big Data.

Big Data is, according to SAS, a term that describes the sheer volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that impact companies on a daily basis (www.sas.com/en/insights/big-data/what-is-big-data.html on 6/18/2018 at 4:50 PM).

But it’s important to note that there is no point in having access to a large amount of data if you do not have methods to deal with that data. Big Data allows you to get relevant insights for better decision-making.

The use of Big Data highlights the importance to companies of using “intelligence” to remain competitive. The basic idea is not new. For decades we have known of the importance of basing certain business decisions on quantitative information, generated by analysis of the company’s internal or secondary data. Big Data therefore refers to datasets much larger in size than typical database software, with the ability to capture, store, manage, and analyze the large volume of data available to the enterprise. When such a large range of data is allied, for example, to high-speed processors and speed in data collection, it effectively contributes to assisting companies in the development of marketing intelligence. The company’s own employees, even those who are not in the commercial and sales areas, often have much relevant information about the market, customers and competitors that is often not properly used, due to the lack of mechanisms for organizing and handling it.

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