Competitive Intelligence

Competitive Intelligence: What It Is & Why Your Business Needs It

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Are you considering competitive intelligence for your business?

Incorporating it can enhance your market position by 30%. However, stakeholders need to trust your sources and the accuracy of your information. This comes down to brand integrity. Successful businesses do this by establishing themselves as trusted authorities in Competitive Intelligence.

In this article, we’ll share methods to build trust and enhance business performance using ethical practices.

What is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive Intelligence also known as corporate intelligence, is when businesses and corporations collect and analyze information about their competitors, target customers, and markets. This enables them to make contextual, data-led business decisions.

For instance, if you have a business, then you can gather information about your competitors and the market to understand and learn what is happening outside your business. Importantly, It’s not just about tracking competitors, but also about understanding the market, products, supply chain, and more.

Similarly, if you want to make strategic decisions based on informed recommendations, then you can do so by conducting competitive intelligence research and using the findings to guide your decisions. 

For a better understanding, we’ll provide you with the difference between Competitive Intelligence (CI) and Industrial Espionage (IE).

Competitive Intelligence (CI):

  • CI is an ethical approach to gathering information about competitors.
  • The information collected is usually public knowledge that is analyzed to identify potential weaknesses and formulate strategic plans.
  • CI aims to provide an advantage over competitors.
  • CI professionals must abide by all applicable laws, accurately disclose all relevant information, and provide honest and realistic recommendations.

Industrial Espionage (IE):

  • IE involves the illegal gathering of proprietary information between competitors.
  • It often includes unethical practices such as theft, bribery, blackmail, and covert operations like hidden surveillance.
  • The main objective is often to sabotage a competitor.
  • IE is sometimes referred to as the ‘dark sister’ of competitive intelligence.

Why Does Your Business Need Competitive Intelligence?

In business, knowing your competitors is like knowing the other lemonade stands at a fair, and CI does more than that. It helps you see what they’re doing well (like yummy flavors or fun games) and what you can do better (more toppings or catchy slogans). This helps you attract more customers and be the best lemonade stand around!

CI collects and analyses information about business competitors, helping businesses understand how their competitors fit into the big picture of their goals. This understanding assists many organizations in meeting their objectives. It also influences companies in making decisions. Thus, it enables strategic decision-making based on informed recommendations.

Furthermore, the insights gleaned from CI help create your marketing strategy. Whether you’re looking to maximize revenue from an existing product or service, trying to launch a new product/service, or entering a new market.

Lastly, most businesses use CI to predict the moves of their competitors and stay ahead of them. You can better position your company to take advantage of market or industry shifts by being aware of your competition.

Key Elements of Competitive Intelligence (CI)

CI is the lifeblood of strategic decision-making in today’s competitive landscape. Thus, we will provide you with a few essential components to help you learn more about competitors and expand your business. Well, let’s get started!

1. Identifying Your Competitors/ Competitor Analysis

  • Identify Your Competitors: Understand who you’re competing with – both directly (offering similar products/services) and indirectly (offering substitutes that fulfill the same customer need). Look for them in industry directories, trade shows, and market research reports.
  • Products/Services: This is all about stacking up what you offer against what your competitors offer. You look at what features are there, the perks of using the product or service, how much it costs, and what makes it special compared to others.
  • Target Market: Here, you’re trying to paint a picture of the ideal customer for your competitors. What kind of people are they selling to? What’s their age, where do they live, and what’s their shopping style? This helps you understand who you’re both trying to win over.
  • Marketing Strategies: This part is like being a detective. You’re analyzing how your competitors are reaching out to people. What’s their game plan online? Where do they put their ads? What kind of content are they pushing out to attract customers? It’s all about their moves to grab attention.

2. Gathering Data

  • Internal Data: This is like looking in your treasure chest to see what gold you’ve got. Sales figures tell you how much you’ve sold, customer feedback is like messages in a bottle telling you what buyers think of your loot, website analytics show how many people are eyeing your treasure map (website), and win/loss reports are the tales of battles won and lost.
  • Industry Reports: These are like the spyglasses that let you see far across the seas. Market research reports industry publications, and analyst firms give you insights into the currents and winds of the market, helping you navigate better.
  • Social Media Monitoring: Keeping an eye on social media is like having a lookout in the crow’s nest. You can see what your competitors are up to, how the sea of customers feels about them, and what kind of flags they’re flying to attract attention.
  • Competitor Websites: Visiting a rival’s ship is risky, but peeking at their website isn’t! You can learn a lot by looking at their product descriptions, press releases, blog posts, and career pages. It’s like knowing their plans and strategies without them seeing you.
  • News and Press Releases: These are like the fast ships that bring the latest news. Staying updated on competitor announcements, partnerships, and new product launches helps you know what moves they’re making on the high seas.
  • Customer Surveys and Focus Groups: Finally, these are like having parrots that overhear what customers are saying. They can tell you what customers need, what bothers them, and how they see your competitors. This helps you make your treasure (products/services) even more irresistible.

3. Analysing Data

  • SWOT Analysis: SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It’s a way to measure up your competitors. What are they good at? Are there any weak spots that could be trouble for them? And what outside stuff could throw a wrench in their plans? This analysis helps you see where you can shine and where you might need to watch out.
  • Competitor Battlecards: Each card has a summary of what the competitor is good at, what they’re not so good at, and some secret tactics they might be planning. It’s a quick way to get to know your opponents.
  • Reports and Dashboards: Reports and dashboards take all the complex info you’ve gathered and turn it into easy-to-understand scores, charts, and graphs. As a result, you can see at a glance how your business is doing and where you can improve.

4. Taking Action

  • Create Actionable Strategies: This helps you make plans by implementing what you know about your competitors’ strong points to your advantage, while also taking advantage of their weak spots.
  • Develop Unique Selling Propositions (USPs): Imagine you’re at a carnival, and every stall around you is selling cotton candy. But yours is the only one with a secret ingredient that makes it taste like no other. That’s your USP. Consequently, this will make your product or service special and stand out from the rest.
  • Inform Decision-Making: Think of this as a team huddle where everyone shares what they’ve learned. You take all the intelligence you’ve gathered and pass it on to your teammates in marketing, sales, and product development. This helps everyone make smarter choices that align with what’s happening in the market and what the competitors are doing.

Why are Competitive Intelligence Tools a must-have for businesses in 2024?

They will provide you with crucial insights into what competitors are up to, how they’re positioned in the market, and what customers want. By using AI and analytics, they help businesses make smart decisions and stay ahead. 

The following are the most widely utilized CI tools in 2024:

  • Similarweb: This tool tells you how many people visit your competitor’s stand, where they come from (school, park?), and who they are (kids, adults?).
  • Semrush: This one helps see which words people use most to find lemonade (like “cold drink” or “sweet treat”) and how your competitor ranks for those words.
  • SpyFu: This is like a detective for keywords! It shows you which words your competitor used for ads in the past and what their most popular lemonade flavors are.
  • Ahrefs: This tool lets you see who talks about your competitor’s stand online (other websites, blogs) and which lemonade flavors get mentioned the most.
  • Buzzsumo: This one is like a popularity meter! It shows you which of your competitor’s lemonade recipes people liked the most online and how many people shared them.
  • Sprout Social: This one is for social media. It shows you everything your competitor is doing on social media, like how often they post, what kind of posts they make (pictures of happy customers?), what hashtags they use, and how many followers they have.


Competitive intelligence can significantly enhance your business strategy. But, it’s crucial to ensure the integrity of your sources and the accuracy of your information. Furthermore, to gain more stakeholders’ trust in your brand, you make your brand a reliable expert in CI.

In this article, we’ve shared some effective methods to build trust and improve business performance ethically. Success in this domain comes from credibility and expertise.

So, are you ready to leverage Competitive Intelligence for your business success? Fingers crossed!

Singam Horam



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