Competitive Intelligence: Meaning & Why Is It Important?

Competitive Intelligence
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

One of the most important pieces of data you can utilise to inform your plan is competitive intelligence. Keeping an eye on your competitors’ messages, offerings, and methods will put you one step ahead of the competition, regardless of what occurs in the market.

In this article, we’ll provide a more detailed explanation of competitive and competitor intelligence while also outlining the measures required for this business strategy to be effective. Let’s get started.

What is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is concerned with gathering and evaluating information about your competitors in order to get an advantage in the industry. This type of study does not require trench coats, disguises, or undercover agents. After all, competitive intelligence differs from business espionage. While competitive intelligence is transparent and honest, espionage is murky and secretive. However, it’s similar to rummaging through a competitor’s waste for hints about their intentions and actions.

The value of competitive intelligence is acquired through lowering the time spent deliberating on crucial decisions, according to the company. For example, if a company detects a competitor doing something different on its website, the marketing team may decide to mimic the technique with little opposition from stakeholders.

Competitive intelligence study allows for educated strategic decision-making based on suggestions. It removes decision-making authority from the highest-paid employee and eliminates hesitation and guessing.

Why Competitive Intelligence is Important

Everything around us is ruled by data. Social listening, purchase history, site activity, and user demographics are already key data sources in marketers’ decision-making processes. Competitive intelligence research is equally vital and effective when done correctly. These are just three examples of how you can use competitive intelligence:

#1. Broaden your market knowledge.

Every company performs market research, so it stands to reason that your competitors know something you don’t. Use competitive intelligence to improve your understanding of your customers, validate your assumptions, or discover something new. Examine your competitors’ messaging and product positioning to check the clients and pain areas they are addressing. To discover any blind spots or flaws in your own approach, compare your findings to your own personas and foundational documents such as message architecture or value declarations. This strategy works best for competitors who share your target customer profile.

#2. Establish your goals.

Competitor performance can help you figure out how to evaluate your own. Assume your competitor is very active on TikTok. Their engagement rates are a reliable predictor of how your own content will fare. Use their data as a starting point for your own plan. Furthermore, if your competitors are putting a lot of effort into a platform but not experiencing great results, learn from their mistakes. If their content and strategy are excellent, but the results aren’t, it could indicate that this isn’t the channel for you.

#3. Make well-informed choices

Competitor intelligence study can benefit everyone in your firm. Sales teams might modify their pitch in response to competition claims and vulnerabilities. Marketing departments can modify their messages to compete with the competition. Product teams might structure their roadmaps around competing features or blind spots. Competitor intelligence that is robust and easily digestible enables teams to make better decisions.

Types of Competitive Intelligence

Companies employ two kinds of competitive intelligence. They are as follows:

  • Strategic competitive intelligence helps companies understand and act on long-term challenges, such as technological changes, the marketplace, and environmental shocks.
  • Tactical competitive intelligence is a short-term process. It contributes to decisions about issues that can be measured in quarterly reports, such as increasing profits or protecting market share.

The key difference in competitive intelligence is whether or not the method is applied. The vast majority of businesses get competitive intelligence, but only approximately half of them use it to make business decisions!

Many businesses primarily utilise competitive intelligence to corroborate already established judgements. Competitive intelligence may protect the decision-maker in these organisations from the consequences of a bad decision, but it does little to assist the company in making excellent decisions.

In companies where competitive intelligence makes a difference in operating results, there are several repeating patterns. However, here are a few examples of competitive intelligence:

  • On critical corporate decisions, the competitive intelligence analyst had final approval authority. This means that the emphasis was on the analyst providing the information rather than a deck of PowerPoint slides. This was the one area where organisations that use competitive intelligence successfully differed the most from those that do not.
  • The report on competitive analysis was proactive rather than reactive. Change may be too late by the time businesses react to their competition. The most successful businesses employ competitive intelligence to anticipate shifting business conditions.
  • In order to plan product introductions, the corporation used competitive intelligence. Customers and competitors are generally taken into account when companies launch new products. This type of research can provide information on regulator reactions, distributor concerns, and the impact of social influencers.

Tips for Conducting Competitive Intelligence Research

Implementing a competitive intelligence strategy may appear difficult, but a comprehensive plan can make the process easier. Here are four stages to getting started with competitive intelligence analysis.

Step #1. Identify your competitors

While it may be tempting to keep track of every competitor in your field, focusing your efforts will give the best results for your competitive intelligence study. Concentrate on your top two or three competitors and let the others go.

Your top competition is the person your ideal customer would go with if they didn’t go with you. These companies will have equivalent value propositions, market share, and products. Remember that your major competitor is not the largest company in the world. It is the most dangerous threat to you.

Step #2. Set your goals

Competitor intelligence may help you in all aspects of your business. However, if you go too broad, your data will be useless. Choose a few focal topics to get your strategy started. Do you wish to improve your marketing? Do you want to develop new goods and features? Is it past time to update your sales strategy? A concrete aim tells you where you need to delve deep and where you can stay on the surface.

Step #3. Gather your sources

Every publicly available piece of information from your competitors is technically competitive intelligence. This is not to say that all data is created equal. You will have too much information to act on if you do not prioritise. Return to the objectives you established in the previous stage. Look for sources that will help you achieve your goals. Pay attention to competition websites, social media accounts, whitepapers, and advertisements if you want to improve your marketing. Job descriptions are vital, but they may not provide you with the information you seek.

Step #4. Create a culture of competitive intelligence

Everyone is responsible for competitive intelligence. When making decisions, your staff should be expected to consider competition strategy. Begin by routinely exchanging competitive intelligence. Keep different functions informed of any important changes made by your competition and offer planned updates on the overall landscape. Mention the results of your competitive intelligence studies in everyday conversations. After a while, it will feel normal for your team to make use of competitive intelligence on a regular basis.

The Best Sources for Competitive Intelligence

Once you’ve established your strategy, it’s important to start gathering competitive intelligence. Competitive intelligence may be found everywhere, but your CRM, sales team and social media are your three best sources.

#1. Your CRM

Setting up your CRM to track who your brand competes with is an excellent approach to benchmark against your competition. You can detail which competitor goods your prospects are now using and who else they are considering during the deal cycle. When you win a sale, you’ll know you’re competitive with their old solution as well as the other brands they were considering. Keeping a score is an excellent approach to gauging your progress.

#2. Your sales team

Sales calls can be a goldmine of information on how prospects see your competitors. Listening to recordings provides you with a direct line of sight into how buyers perceive specific product features, brand positioning, and price structures in comparison to your rivals. Furthermore, you can obtain some excellent pull quotes for internal briefings.

#3. Use of social media

Because social media occurs in real-time, it is a wonderful location to acquire up-to-date information on what your competitors (and customers) are doing. Examining your competitors’ content and audience engagement strategy might provide you a significant advantage and help you discover new chances. You can receive a quick, detailed snapshot of how you compare to competitors in terms of social reach, share of voice, and sentiment if you combine your manual search abilities with a tool.

Organizations Can’t Succeed Without Competitive Intelligence

Some leaders claim to be unconcerned about competition, but every successful company is.

Even before a new firm ships its first Minimally Viable Product (MVP), it is competing for money, talent, and market share with other companies. When a corporation asserts it has no competition, it usually means it is unaware of it.

Companies cannot afford to presume that their competition will not be able to catch up to them. This principle holds true for well-established organisations as well.

Competitors are aware of a company’s strengths and flaws when it operates at scale. Any company is vulnerable to losing its market leadership position.

Moving from data to intelligence is the goal of competitive intelligence.

Competitive intelligence translates all of the fragmented data that surrounds an organisation into usable intelligence.

Google will not provide you with competitive intelligence. It entails analysing and integrating information from various sources and organising it into useful knowledge.

How to Use a Competitive Intelligence Strategy in Your Business

You now have a solid base from which to launch your competitive intelligence work. Determine your main competitors. Focus on vital, actionable information that you can acquire using your research methods. Collect data and turn it into information by recognising key trends. Ensure that every decision-maker in your organisation has access to the information you collect and uses it to make proactive decisions for a competitive advantage.

What is Competitor Intelligence and its Benefits?

Competitive intelligence supports businesses by allowing them to gather, analyse, and act on information about their competitive marketplace. This knowledge could include everything about your competition’s surroundings, such as the market, products or services, supply chain, and so on.

What is the 3 Circle Model of Competitive Strategy?

The upper right-hand circle symbolises the requirements and values of the consumer. The upper left-hand circle reflects the consumer view of the value provided by our company, while the bottom circle indicates customer’s impression of the value provided by our competition.

What is SWOT Analysis of Competitors?

A competitor SWOT analysis is a tool that allows you to put yourself in the shoes of your competitors. It compels you to consider the internal company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the exterior market Opportunities and Threats that they face. Competitor analysis is critical in RtM Strategy, and it is all about the specifics.

What is the Difference Between Competitor Intelligence and Competitive Intelligence?

This is analogous to competition analysis. Competitive intelligence, on the other hand, involves increasing a company’s or organization’s competitiveness in relation to its entire environment and stakeholders: competitors, customers, technology, distributors, and macroeconomic data.


Obtaining competitive intelligence can assist you in remaining one step ahead of the competition. You can gather valuable information from competitors in your sector in a variety of methods to gain an advantage and enhance your earnings. You can, for example, invest in competitive intelligence tools that do the study for you, or you can personally review a competitor’s social media and website.


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