Market Intelligence can be described as the capturing of information pertinent to a company’s markets so as to understand what is going on in a marketplace (e.g. keeping track of your competitors, what consumers/customers are doing, by use of sales logs, surveys and social media channels), the market potential for new products and services based on previous activities and responses as well as the general state of the industry that you are in.

Ideally, it is the collecting, analysis, and dissemination of relevant information to the market segments one’s company participates or wishes to participate in.  Many businesses, most of the times use the terms “market intelligence” and “marketing research” interchangeably. However, “market intelligence” is usually defined as a complete and continuing awareness of all facets of a marketplace covering how businesses use current sources of information to understand what is happening in their markets, the existing problems, and opportunities.

It focuses mainly on market trends, rival companies, clients, suppliers and customer spending. In simple terms, it can be described as the combination of data and analysis that produces information which is relevant to decision making. Marketing research, on the other hand, is one of the four pillars of market intelligence, the other three being competitive intelligence, product intelligence, and market analysis.

The four foundations of Market Intelligence are Competitor Intelligence, Market Understanding, Product Intelligence, and Customer Understanding.

The power of these disciplines comes from their integration. 

For example, knowing that a competitor has slashed his prices so as to prepare for the debut of a new product in order to gain share in a new market segment is very important. The Market Analysis and Market Research come in to show us the importance of that market segment is and what it will take to be successful in that market segment.

By conducting an analysis of secondary data in relation to the market, market share trends and other market data, one can understand whether this is a segment that will enhance the competitors’ growth, or whether it will lead to a loss of their resources (Market Analysis).

Market research allows for the facilitation of specific insights into important customer needs, the client’s loyalty to existing vendors and additional factors which will influence a firms potential for success in a new/existing market segment.

In order to deliver a world-class market intelligence organization, one needs to have:

  1. Data sources and field resources
  2. Analytical skills and processes to pool the data together
  3. Technology foundation and platforms to deliver, process, store, and distribute the information
  4. The support and access to top management.

Data gathering and field resources are the foundations for any Market Intelligence organization. This is a combination of people, information services, and processes that provide the basic data on competitors, product shipments and other data relevant to the market. An outstanding market intelligence organization should always be on the lookout for ways of turning an entire organization into one large intelligence-gathering unit.

By use of existing information infrastructure (e.g. email), education, and incentives, an entire organization can become a source for gathering market as well as competitive information. A good example is one Fortune 500 Company that offers its sales officers a monetary incentive to turn in competitive tips that can be acquired from some customer sites and resellers locations.

The officers were said to have come across pre-introduction beta or evaluation products in customer’s sites. These first looks at competitive products can be very useful in planning pre-emptive actions to assail new products from one’s competitors.

Gathering the data, however, is not enough. There has to be stringent analysis and insightful reporting for the data to become useful information. For the Market Intelligence to be used, different types of data e.g. market share, cost data, competitor product, etc. should be used as information which will aid the decision makers in decision making. That is the ultimate test of the data analysis.

Another fundamental aspect is having the right information infrastructure to deal with the flow of information in and out of the analytical team and to ensure that minimal manual intervention is used to process the data. For example, in several instances, the market share data furnished by great market data providers such as DataQuest is usually not in the right format or is not defined in a useful way as to be the ultimate decision-maker in marketing.

It could be in form of product segmentation based on PC’s processor speed, while the decision-maker uses customer types based segments. An investment is therefore required in order to develop a database that converts the data providers segments into the decision-maker used segments.

Without this automation investment, an experienced Market Analyst will be forced to spend a huge amount of time making manual conversions using pivot tables, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint slides which are an ineffective use of important market intelligence resources.

Finally, it is very vital that the Market Intelligence group has direct access to top decision-makers. More often than not, the decision-makers believe that Market Intelligence has little value in comparison to their gut instincts. Low perceived values by the decision-makers have often been as a result of low impact market intelligence provided to the Market Intelligence organizations.

In worse case scenarios, it can be the result of past missed expectations resulting in low credibility for the Market Intelligence organization. A better access to decision-makers by the Market Intelligence teams will result in better analysis and information being provided to the decision-makers thus leading to quality decision making.

Contact us today to scale through a data-driven marketing approach.