Every organization wants to stay ahead of the competition, right? Of course, why wouldn’t they. In order to grow and capture market share, companies need to be on the lookout for ways, methods and strategies that help them perform better than their competitors. One such method is capturing regular competitive insights, i.e. insights into how your competitors are running their business, their regular practices, their strengths and weaknesses, in order to gain a competitive advantage over them. However, gaining competitive insights is no walk in the park. It involves various strategies of its own, and collecting relevant insights from the internet – which is buzzing with digital noise – requires the use of certain advanced tools. This collection of insights on your market and competitors is known as market and competitive intelligence, sometimes also known as competitive market intelligence. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. In this article, let us understand in detail what competitive insights are, what is market and competitive intelligence, as well as tools that can help you beat the competition by providing you with relevant competitive insights. Let’s begin!
What are competitive insights?
More and more businesses these days are relying on competitive insights to gain a competitive advantage and guide their business strategies. In fact, according to a recent study, 62% of organizations expect the usage of competitive intelligence software or tools to increase, with a whopping 94% of businesses investing in the collection of competitive insights.
So, what are competitive insights? A competitive insight is any piece of information that provides you with a better understanding of your target markets and/or competitors. When you collect regular competitive insights in a planned manner, analyze them, and use them to formulate your business strategies and day-to-day operations, it is known as competitive intelligence. To begin with, gaining the following competitive insights is a must for every organization:
- Who is leading the market, i.e. which of your competitors (or you)?
- What are top products or services in the market?
- Are there any market trends you overlooked?
- Do you and your competitors target the same audience?
- Do your competitors communicate with your target audience better than you?
- How do your competitors drive the audience to buy from them?
Such insights, and many more, can be gained through the usage of competitive market intelligence. Let us now understand what that is.
What is market and competitive intelligence?
Market and competitive intelligence (M&CI) or competitive market intelligence, can be defined as the systematic collection, analysis and distribution of information about products, customers, competitors, and other market factors, from multiple sources. The objective of this collection, analysis and distribution of information, is to draw competitive insights that provide only actionable information, i.e information that contributes to your business’s competitive advantage.
The purpose of M&CI is to support strategic decision-making within your organization. Competitive market intelligence is the foundation of the information-based decision making culture that helps organizations determine market segmentation, market penetration, market opportunity, and existing market metrics. It is thus a vital element of any healthy organization that helps it to understand the state of the market, collect competitor intelligence, gain a competitive advantage and finally, become profitable.
What can competitive insights help you achieve?
The needs of your audience keep changing, and both the market and your competitors respond to that. Thus, you need to actively monitor the market and your competitors so you can not only keep pace with them, but also outperform them. Competitive insights can be leveraged by every team across a business. The most common use cases for CI include improving marketing performance, enabling sales, and informing product strategy. In addition, they are also commonly used to do the following:
- Identify market opportunities from gaps in your competitors’ strategies
- Discover industry and audience trends that your competitors are or aren’t using to their advantage
- Create new products and services developed around market successes and audience needs
- Learn how to market and sell your brand more effectively
But, as mentioned before, collecting competitive insights can be tricky, particularly manually. There is terabytes of information on the internet, and more is added every day. Manually filtering relevant information on your market and competitors every day can be a losing battle, which will result in exhaustion of time, effort and resources, and that too with no guarantee that you don’t overlook something. This is why, most organizations these days simply use a market and competitive intelligence software to automate the collection of competitive insights. Let’s understand how.
How do market and competitive intelligence software work and how can they help you?
Advanced market and competitive intelligence tools or software like Contify, utilize cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP), to scour the internet. They gather only business-relevant information from sources like news, company websites, government and regulatory portals, press releases, discussion forums, review sites, job portals, social media, etc. This information is then processed, using a hybrid system of machine learning and contextual noise-filtering algorithms, augmented by a layer of human curation to ensure that you only get pure, noise-free market and competitive intelligence. In addition, they have other features which can help you with the following:
- Identification of industry shifts and trends, and their graphical representation/visualization using intuitive dashboards, improving an organization’s response to such shifts.
- Competitive analysis of your organization vs. your top competitors, which helps in assessing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, thus improving the organization’s response to competitors’ movements.
- Centralization of all the information collected from public sources, premium tools or paid analyst reports an organization may be using, saving time and effort spent in searching for information scattered across the organization.
- Distribution of intelligence to various stakeholders and teams, in formats that are accessible, familiar, and relevant to their business function.
If you’re not investing in M&CI, you can bet that your competitors are, and that you’ll be at a disadvantage if you ignore what’s happening in your market.
Competitive insights are something that most large enterprises have been using for decades to stay on top of their respective markets, and most have a market and competitive intelligence process, driven by a powerful market and & competitive intelligence tool or software to collect them regularly. Unfortunately, small and medium enterprises have been slower in their adoption of competitive intelligence practices, although they are quickly gaining.
90% of businesses report that their industry has become more competitive in the last three years, and 48% say it has become much more competitive. Businesses are constantly trying to outdo one another for market share, brand awareness and customer loyalty. While it can be easy to get over involved in what your competitors are doing, gaining valuable insights into their behaviour is beneficial for your bottom line. Having a deep understanding of how your audience engages with your competitors will put you in the best position to improve your own performance, and competitive insights are the way to do that.