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Why Market Research is Essential for Competitive Intelligence

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Why Market Research is Essential for Competitive Intelligence

competitive intelligence market researchCompetitive intelligence is a vital -- yet often overlooked -- piece of the overall competitive analysis puzzle. Much more than a simple (and often superficial) SWOT analysis or marketplace scan, competitive intelligence does a deep dive into not just what current and future competitors are doing, but more importantly, WHY they are making key strategic decisions and investments, and how the marketplace is reacting to those moves.  

Now, if while reading the paragraph above you thought (or could imagine thinking) “Hmmmm….this sounds a lot like market research – in fact, they could just replace the term ‘competitive intelligence’ with ‘market research’ and it would still make sense” then guess what? You are 100 percent correct!

Indeed, market research does not just complement or augment competitive intelligence. Rather, market research is the essence of competitive intelligence. In other words: competitive intelligence that does not leverage quality market research is not really competitive intelligence at all.

This is not mere semantics or splitting hairs when it comes to terminology. This is as pragmatic and practical as it gets, because organizations that rely on this pseudo-competitive intelligence (i.e. without market research at its core) cannot and will not be in a position to make informed decisions based on reliable, hard data. And even if they do happen to make the right choices, they will invariably draw the wrong conclusions as to why they achieved success, and will be unlikely to repeat it. After all, catching lightning in a bottle is the exception, not the norm.

Specifically, here are the competitive intelligence insights that your organizations can expect to uncover – and exploit -- thanks to professional-grade quantitative and qualitative market research:

1. What your real competition is, which almost always includes MORE competitors than you realize. 

Remember: customers have their own way of ranking alternatives, and will often go outside traditional categories and marketplaces to compare options. For example, customers who may be thinking of re-designing their workplace so it is more efficient and employee-friendly, may determine that it is also viable to keep their current space the way it is, but upgrade the furniture so that it is modular and movable. An office renovation company targeting these customers can build messaging and solutions that align with this mindset (e.g. partner with an office furniture company). However, if this same company thinks that its ONLY competition is other office renovation companies, then it will miss out on a potentially lucrative opportunity.

2. How customers perceive and evaluate various brands.

Your competitors may spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on marketing and advertising programs – or they may spend next-to-nothing, and rely primarily on word-of-mouth and referral partnerships. Market research (and only market research!) helps you objectively see how the marketplace perceives and evaluates these brands, so that you can align with what customers evidently want, and exploit opportunities that your vulnerable competitors are overlooking or neglecting.

3. What channels and touchpoints are the most effective – and which are the least.

Many organizations waste an enormous amount of money -- and pay a steep opportunity cost -- because they try and get their message out through channels and touchpoints that may have been viable in the past, but are not longer as effective (or may be flat-out ineffective). For example, an organization that primarily relies on engaging prospects at trade shows may realize – again, thanks to market research-based competitive intelligence – that its competitors are generating much more visibility, engagement and results through newer strategies such as inbound marketing and content marketing.

Learn More

To learn more about the essential integration between professional-grade market research and profitable results-based competitive intelligence, contact the Communications For Research team today. Our co-CEO, Colson Steber, can help you determine who your competitors are and how you can outperform them through a comprehensive marketing research plan. By finding what your competitors are doing well, you can determine what steps your company needs to take in order to beat them at their own game.

For more information on how to communicate the value of market research to your clients, download our FREE eBook:

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