When I was younger, my dream was to open a cheese store with my family. My mom, brother, sister, and I — we’re all obsessed with cheese.
So anytime I see a cheese store, I’ll go in and sample everything … for research, obviously.
Although I’d never thought about it this way before, I was already thinking in terms of market intelligence and market research (two different concepts … more on that below).
I was thinking about the product and the competitors.
As a marketer, market intelligence is important because it can help you understand your position in the market, evaluate your product, know your target audience, and conduct a competitor analysis.
With this information, your marketing team will be better equipped to position your company in the marketplace.
Below, let’s review what market intelligence is, how it’s different from market research, and marketing intelligence systems that can facilitate the process.
What is market intelligence?
Market intelligence is the information that’s gathered by a company about a specific market or industry to help make business decisions and guide competitive strategy. It’s used to learn about the existing market, customers, problems, competition, and growth potential. Businesses can gather this information through internal and external sources such as sales logs, surveys, social media, news websites, manufacturers, clients, or distributors.
So, what’s the purpose of gathering market intelligence? To learn more about the customer and the competition so you can better market your own product or service.
For instance, companies can gather general demographics and spending habits of their consumers to write better, more targeted social media ads. Additionally, market intelligence can help a company make decisions on product development and establish a stronger brand.
So, what type of information should you collect? Generally, market intelligence can be divided into four main categories of information:
This is the process of learning more about your competitors. To do this, you might consider conducting a SWOT analysis, so you can look at the competition’s strengths and weaknesses. The goal is to uncover why customers choose competitors over your product or service.
Once you’ve analyzed how you compare to your competitors, you should look inward, at your own product or service. The goal is to learn about the quality and performance of your product or service. If you have a physical product, you should also analyze your manufacturing process. Are you building your product in the most efficient way? This information should help you improve the user experience and make your product better.
To truly understand how your product is performing, you’ll have to look at the various markets where it’s available. Could you expand your product to other markets? Are there other markets that could benefit from your product or service? Ultimately, this information should help you understand where your audience is, so you can show up in those areas.
Understanding your customer is the key aspect of increasing the product life cycle of any product or service. That’s because it’s five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. For this reason (and many others), you have to know your audience. Why do your customers buy from you? What challenges does your team help them with? The goal here is to gather the information that can help your marketing team come up with targeted campaigns.
Overall, gathering market intelligence should answer questions like:
- Where should we devote more resources?
- What markets can we enter next?
- What are our customers purchasing patterns?
- What audiences should we market to?
Now, you might be wondering, “How do I gather this information?”
To conduct market intelligence, you’ll use internal and external sources of data such as:
- Focus groups
- A/B tests
- Competitor tracking analytics
Depending on the analytics you have available, a lot of this information can be found on your CMS or CRM.
However, before we jump into the systems you can use to find this information, I know you’re probably thinking, “How is this different than market research?” Let’s dive into that below.
Market Intelligence vs. Market Research
The main difference between market intelligence and market research is the goal. Market intelligence is company-focused, while market research is done to learn more about customer preferences. Both are used to help businesses understand and develop marketing strategies.
Alternatively to market intelligence, market research focuses on learning more about the buyer’s research process and what influences their decisions to buy.
Now, back to market intelligence. You’re probably wondering, “What tools can I use to gather this information?” Below, let’s review what marketing intelligence systems you can use.
Marketing Intelligence System
For market intelligence to be useful, companies need to gather accurate data. However, that can be a lot to take on for a marketing team.
That’s why there are online tools you can use to gather this data. Below are a few we recommend, divided into sections depending on your goals. Additionally, if you’re a HubSpot user, many of these tools integrate with HubSpot.
I’m not being hyperbolic when I say market intelligence is vital for your company to succeed. Collecting market intelligence can help your team track competitors more efficiently in your marketing stack. Additionally, market intelligence can be used to give you a holistic view of the market, improve customer retention, boost your efficiency, and give you a competitive advantage.