What is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive Intelligence refers to all the information collected and analyzed by a company in regards to the industry and the business environment, including competitors and competitive products and services.  Having this information in hand, a company is in a better position to know the industry rivalry and predict their next move. This will in turn result in wiser business strategic decisions, better exploitation of opportunities and enhanced response to challenges upfront. It is important to note that all respective information must be gathered according to ethical and legitimate practices.

Types of Competitive Intelligence

1. Tactical Competitive Intelligence refers to a shorter timeframe and attempts to gather information in regards to issues mainly concerning market share and revenues. For instance, this might be identifying the most profitable competitor’s products that are driving their share of market up or evaluating the number of offerings for each competitor.

2. Strategic Competitive Intelligence refers to a longer timeframe and attempts to gather information in regards to issues concerning the key opportunities and threats that are evident in the current business landscape or might be approaching in the near future.

Sources of Competitive Intelligence

The next point of consideration takes a look at the sources of competitive intelligence and where all the information can be found. In order to achieve a comprehensive, holistic analysis of the competition, businesses need to search for information in various and disparate sources. These usually include:

  • Company Websites for information in regards to the target audience, products and services, pricing strategies, etc.
  • News Media and Press Releases for new offerings, strategic decisions, new partnerships and strategic alliances.
  • Social Media for insights regarding the marketing strategy and target group of the competitor. The perception of consumers can also be assessed by reviewing user reactions and comments. Main platforms to look out for are Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.
  • Online job postings to assess the competitor’s human resource strategy and number of open positions, which can in turn indicate the company’s efforts for expansion or development.
  • Stakeholders, distributors, partners and suppliers of the competitor to evaluate the type and quality of its partnerships (e.g. collaborating with major, premium suppliers vs small, cost-efficient suppliers)
  • Online Sources for general information in regards to the competitor’s offerings and upcoming news.
  • Public Filings and Government Records for more in-depth information
  • Direct customers in order to uncover how customers view the rival’s brand image compared to yours and how they perceive the quality of their product or service. This might be achieved through interviews and focus groups.
  • Employees and Salespeople from within the company in order to reveal information in regards to the competitors moves from industry’s conferences and speeches.

The topic of Competitive Intelligence has been gaining popularity over the last years and more companies have begun investing in incorporating it in their strategic building. As competition is increasing tremendously in today’s overpopulated business marketplace, Competitive Intelligence has become a vital tool for minimizing decision risk, reducing uncertainty and maximizing the potential for long-term success.