Market intelligence refers to the process of gathering and analysing information about the market a company operates in or is seeking to enter. By collecting data about market trends, competitors and customers, organisations can assess new opportunities, make more informed decisions and create a smarter business strategy.
It’s important to note that there’s a distinction between market intelligence and marketing intelligence. The former takes a holistic view of the entire marketplace, while the latter is more about knowing the preferences of your customer.
When gathering market intelligence, there are three key components to focus on.
The consumer. Knowing what the customer wants will help you provide it. You can gain insight into customer needs through focus groups, surveys, purchasing patterns, online reviews, social media interactions and more. You can not only see how your customer base is responding to existing offerings, but identify gaps in the market you can address.
The product or service. When gathering market intelligence, you’ll want to evaluate what exactly you’re offering the market. Look at the quality and performance of your product or service. Are there areas where it can be improved? Has it been designed to meet the needs of the market? Is it being positioned properly?
The competition. Look at how your product or service stacks up to other offerings in the marketplace. How are your competitors engaging their customers? How are they positioning their USP (unique selling proposition)? What are their customers saying online? Your research can also include looking at your competitors’ long-term business strategies, how they’re producing their products and how they’re branding their businesses. After all, they’re helping to define the marketplace.
Marketing intelligence is the accumulation of information from a number of different sources, some high-tech and digital and some old-school and physical.
Examples of market intelligence include:
Information derived from focus groups and market research.
Marketing data that shows customer preferences.
Purchasing patterns from existing customers.
Industry reports, newsletters and articles.
Feedback collected from social media channels.
Feedback collected from sales and service reps.
Surveys, interviews and questionnaires.
Website analytics that track customer behaviour.
Those are just some of the ways to collect market intelligence. CRM platforms combine all customer information in a single trusted platform, making it easy to store, sort and leverage your business’s data for better market intelligence.
1. Clearly define your goals and choose the most impactful KPIs. Without defining clear goals, market intelligence can be a nearly endless affair. After all, we’re swimming in oceans of data. Lock down your objectives and goals before analysing your data. This will help you focus on the information that will move the needle the most. For instance, if you’re looking to improve your online reputation, you may want to track your NPS (Net Promoter Score). If you want to provide better service, you can focus on CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score) and resolution times.
2. Use your market intelligence to improve the customer experience. Providing an exceptional customer experience (CX) has become increasingly important in the new climate. So much so that many companies are looking at their digital CX as a competitive advantage. When analysing your market, look for bottlenecks or pain points that might be affecting your CX. How does your CX stand up to your competitors’? Can it be optimised to not only offer a more frictionless customer journey, but to provide better opportunities for upselling and cross-selling? What do you need to do to turn your CX into a differentiator?
3. Brainstorm new products and services – and ways to improve existing ones. Customer feedback is a great source of inspiration. Not only can it help tweak products and services; it can lead to exciting new offerings. Companies like DHL even have cooperative workshops where customers can share feedback and suggestions. The result? AR smart glasses, which have improved warehouse picking efficiency by 25%. Even if you don’t want to go that far, your customer data is telling a story. Listening to it can open a new chapter for your business.
4. Look for opportunities with new audience segments. You may have a great picture of your target audience. You may have even created a flawless customer profile, which has trimmed marketing costs and created loyalty. But that doesn’t mean you’ve reached your ceiling. Look at your data to see if there are any underserved markets that you could address. After all, business analytics tools have made it easy to personalise messaging and re-position offerings for various audiences.
5. Run a SWOT analysis using market intelligence. Running a SWOT for small business will help your organisation identify its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the market. The great thing about a SWOT analysis is that it leverages intelligence collected across teams, while helping you benchmark key business areas against your competitors. A SWOT analysis is one of the most cost-effective ways to turn a standard meeting room into a think tank.
6. Let the market shape your areas of investment. When prioritising investment, the last thing you want to do is fly blind. Turn to your market research to see where capital can be most effective. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Where should you invest to keep up with expectations? Where should you double down to become a market leader? What will generate the highest ROI? Your market research can provide a strong blueprint for investment.
Market intelligence can be the key to a more efficient, customer-centric and profitable business, but only if the information is trustworthy. Luckily, businesses have never had so much data at their fingertips. From social media and online reviews to customer data from CRM platforms, today’s business is more connected with the market than ever before.
If you’re ready to put your data to work, then check out our guide, Thriving in the Experience Economy, to see how you can stand out in the marketplace.