In this day in age, globalization and technology-driven innovation leave little room for companies to attain and sustain a competitive advantage. At times, first mover advantage is only good if one can stay ahead of competition, which is especially challenging during a time where many competitors are simply copying strategies and/or capabilities. We’ve seen it over and over again. Facebook copied Snapchat with their Instagram stories. Samsung and HP have copied Apple’s designs. In the airlines industry, Southwest Airlines has been dominating the budget airlines space, but now United, Delta, and American have recently started offering “basic economy” class. Sometimes copying works and it’s a reality of doing business. However, that’s a reactive environment. In Jim Fowler’s article in Entrepreneur, he contends that “winners set the pace, not the other way around.” The secret to outpacing your rivals is competitive intelligence. Use your competition’s “moves to drive your own innovation,” as opposed to just reacting by copying.
Companies are often inundated with data and it often takes a substantial amount of time to do analysis. However, now there are many affordable analytics tools available to help companies distinguish the “signal from the noise.” You don’t have to wait for the monthly or quarterly reports; analytics tools enable organizations to “keep your finger on the pulse with daily tidbits of competitive intelligence.” Companies are investing significant amounts of capital into business intelligence/data analytics tools. Boston University’s CIS study reported that business intelligence practices sparked worldwide revenue of $13.1 billion. Further, the study also showed that 54% of professionals felt that their companies would perform better if they made data-driven decisions.
Below are Fowler’s three tips on using data to stay ahead of your competition.
Keep the skies friendly. Fowler states that it’s a much better use of your energy when you can take the competitive intelligence and use it to define your next move. Your competition doesn’t have to be your enemy. Instead, focus on value. What is your competitor missing? Ask yourself how you might differentiate yourself in the market place or how you might add more value to the customer experience.
Follow other flight patterns. Not only are you keeping tabs on your competitors, but they’re likely keeping tabs on you as well. Fowler states that “you don’t want to get so caught up running your business that you forget to learn from [competitors.]” Further, he states that “gathering intelligence doesn’t always have to be about ‘reinventing the wheel.’” Perhaps you can look at it as a way to improve an existing product or “take it somewhere else in the future.” Again, focus on value.
Stay open to alternate routes. Don’t get comfortable or you could end up being the MySpace of Social Media. Fowlers argues that “if you see an opening that a competitor might take, beat ‘em to the punch.” Don’t let complacency prevent you from seeing shifts in the industry.
During my time as an MBA student I’ll at least be able to know what Market Intelligence is. To be more precise, I understand that businesses keeps track of internal processes and data with business intelligence systems. But do they analyze what’s happening in their industry or the markets where they do business?
Market intelligence is data analysis that provides a focus on specific elements of a given market, such as a geographic location or a particular demographic of consumer. Which Market Intelligence a business can understand where to allocate more resources, and which markets to infiltrate next. By collecting and analyzing data about the markets in which they are situated, companies gain valuable insight into how to grow their business.
Now, here are some basic rules to successful Market Intelligence:
Always have good information which always relies on real people;
Communicate with your manufacturers, distributors, clients and others involved in the creation and distribution of your products;
There is no set plan for how to gather market intelligence;
Equip your business with powerful market intelligence tools that keep track of all information;
Cloud-based providers also offer business intelligence systems and data storage solutions for business;
Marketing researchers study consumer trends and reactions to different products.
Hard data, dialogue and marketing research make up the majority of a company’s market intelligence. Once this information is processed, businesses use it to make important decisions, including determining market opportunity and creating market development metrics.
Market intelligence vs. business intelligence
Unlike business intelligence, which deals with the self-analysis of a business, market intelligence deals with the analysis of the external factors affecting a business.
Don’t forget to take into account what is happening with the competition and use your data analysis to create competitive intelligence.
Use Marketing Intelligence to provide a context to you sales numbers and other transactions occurring within your business, only then you’ll achieve optimal decision-making.
According to a recent article by Andrew McDougall, Datamonitor’s analyst Ramaa Chipalkatti has announced that skin whitening products have been marketed incorrectly in the West, hence their popularity in Asia. Skin whitening products have long been seen as popular in Asia, these products give consumers confidence in their appearance because fair skin is usually associated with perceptions of youth and dark skin is seen as lower class.
To back up Chipalkatti’s statements “a Datamonitor survey found that 50% of Asian consumers say skin whitening is essential of highly sought after in skin care products; compared to 24% and 22% in the US and Western Europe respectively.”
The point is that many studies have shown that people from different cultures see and perceive things differently and that is probably due to how their culture shaped the way they view the world. To lack of better words “If a marketer or brand can find the right language and benefits to promote to a particular audience, skin whitening products have great potential.” – Andrew McDougall.
Skin whitening products are usually not well received in Western cultures because of the language used and the benefits the marketing campaigns focus on. “Marketing and positioning is essential” explains Chipalkatti. “Brands need to be careful how they market their products.”
Intelligent market data from Datamonitor, an international data analysis company proves that there is market opportunity evident in 3 trends: Heath and wellness; easy and affordable, individualism and expressionism. The anti-ageing market is increasing dramatically and depigmentation is seen as an ageing sign. The way to position these products is to target the creams at different audiences and different price points depending on their demand since skin whitening creams already address the top skin care concerns worrying consumers worldwide.
Andrew McDougall concludes his article by quoting analyst Chipalkatti: “By being marketed in specific or different ways around the world, skin whitening products have great potential”.
It would be easier to say that marketers are not supposed to use social media as marketing research for a variety of different reasons. The truth is that social media is now a reliable metric used by businesses worldwide. Over time, Social media is able to identify the trends and social dynamics across products, topics and venues.
Prof. David Schweidel, Co-Director of Emory’s Marketing Analytics Center says “The data available on social media have ushered in a new wave of what’s possible for marketers. Social media intelligence can help firms track brand health and market structure and can even provide a leading indicator of shifts in consumer sentiment.”
Marketers defend that the real value of social media intelligence happens when social media data are linked with other firm metrics which include three sources: social media intelligence, traditional marketing research, and customer touch points.
“Marketing is about the same thing it’s always been about: right customer, right message, right time,” says Prof. Schweidel. Social media platforms can sharpen marketers’ abilities to achieve that goal. “We can more readily observe the products and features that consumers want. We can identify the pivotal players who may help disseminate a message. We can see what types of messages are most appealing. And we can track what kind of impact these social activities have on our strategic objectives.”
The important take away is that the faster this information is collected by a business the better the understanding of the consumer. Social Media captures general shifts in brand sentiments before survey-based metrics, usually these are sentiments propelled by recent news events or important announcements.
On the other hand, customer satisfaction surveys will show you better than any social media data what brands need to know to diagnose or remedy a consumer concern. The downside? “Social media users comment on what they want to comment on” —not what the brands need to know to tackle a costumer need.
For more expert insight please refer to the relevant infograph.
In a recent article, Rick Suttle demystifies the difference between Marketing Research and Marketing Intelligence. Both are usually used by businesses to study their markets, competitors, political implications and consumer demographic variables however the key difference according to Suttle relies in the final purpose of the data itself, meaning marketing research tends to be highly company specific.
Companies generally use phone, Internet or in-person surveys to gain marketing research data but marketers have to use both types of information (Marketing Research and Marketing Intelligence) to develop their core marketing strategies.
Marketing Intelligence encompasses a variety of different purposes ranging from determining company’s market share, or the percentage of units and dollars the company wields in the marketplace; the total dollar amount that consumers spent in her industry, etc.
Nevertheless, a company would not be able to determine consumer preference differences in the markets it serves without conducting Marketing Research surveys. “People in one market may prefer different product features, styles, flavors or sizes than those in other markets” – says Rick Suttle.
Here’s an example: one type of marketing intelligence is internal data; small-business owners often use internal information such as customer databases for business decisions. But others need to use marketing research: marketers would conduct phone or in-person, corporate management would use marketing research to learn why customers purchase certain products and management would need to survey customers to determine whether what other products customers may like.
There are many methods used by businesses to gather and collect market research data. Nevertheless, marketing data is seen as a worldwide powerful tool used to compare the company’s strengths and weaknesses with key competitors and from there develop elaborate pricing strategies.