Competitive Intelligence Research: The Benefits For Businesses

Starting a business nowadays is easier than ever before because of the internet. Solutions to common problems are plentiful, and access to capital from investors is similarly widely available. So, in an increasingly competitive landscape, how do businesses ensure others don’t start taking a bite out of the slice of pie they’ve carved out for themselves? The short answer is competitive intelligence research. Feel free to use the table of contents to skip ahead if you run into information you already know.

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What Is Competitive Intelligence Data?

learn about competitive intelligence

Competitive intelligence data is information collected and examined in relation to competitors in a market. It can then be analyzed to understand another business’s strengths and weaknesses and how your business can improve to protect and grow your own customer base.

By analyzing competitive intelligence data, companies can become better at determining strategic initiatives, future planning, new product development, innovative approaches, customer relationship management, and how to keep up with market trends.

There is a mix of tactical intelligence and strategic competitive intelligence. Tactical focuses on short-term initiatives, whereas strategic intelligence refers to long-term business planning. Tactical intelligence needs to have a short-term focus and be more agile, and strategic intelligence requires analyzing broader market issues and trends that can sometimes be slow-moving but need to be addressed.

Both are important for recognizing market shifts, preparing benchmarks to be met, understanding the power of your brand against others, and how consumers perceive the value of your products and services against others.

How Is Competitive Intelligence Data Used?

It helps companies keep up with competitors while improving their overall business and is a method of making improvements to solidify your place in your industry and streamline a range of competitive advantages. Using this information, businesses can secure a larger portion of the market, increase market share overall, win over customers from other companies, and continue to grow.

What Are the Goals of Competitive Intelligence Research?

goals of competitive intelligence

The goal of competitive intelligence is to optimize business results by becoming familiar with the other competitive forces within an industry. Main priorities include establishing where the biggest threats are, how it affects your company’s competitiveness in the space and how to address any problems.

Distinguishing between direct and indirect competitors

Direct competitors offer the same services as your company to the same consumer base. Indirect competitors look at any business offering similar services that could potentially satisfy your customers’ needs, yet its products are different. For example, Nike’s direct competitors would be corporations such as Adidas and Under Armour — businesses that sell sports apparel. However, Nike also has to indirectly compete with thousands of other brands within the clothing and fashion industry. Competitive intelligence helps companies like Nike identify emerging threats and spot market trends to better position themselves.

Businesses must define their segments’ core competitors, market leaders, and up-and-comers.

Capitalizing on opportunities

Competitive intelligence can help businesses identify underserved markets by spotting opportunities for product improvements and gaps in the market. Management can oversee changes and performance metrics and advance their go-to-market speed.

What Is Competitive Marketing Intelligence?

competitive marketing intelligence

Competitive intelligence is business-focused, whereas competitive marketing intelligence focuses on consumers.

Competitive marketing intelligence takes a closer look at the behaviors of consumers and how they interact within your market segments. It conducts reasoned analysis around geography, demographic, and socioeconomic data. Using competitive intelligence helps brands address:

  • Pain points
  • Pricing power
  • Client interests, values, wants, and needs
  • Development of customer personas
  • Templates to create tailor-made solutions
  • Marketing strategies
  • Product strategies

Competitive intelligence takes a more holistic approach to your direct competitors: What opportunities your competitors are missing out on, what they’re good and bad at, their pricing strategy and branding, what differentiates your business from theirs, and how you can improve your business when compared to theirs. It’s used to analyze things like:

  • Company size
  • Market saturation
  • Margins
  • Differentiating factors
  • Market opportunities

Both of the above contribute to creating smarter marketing campaigns and more competitive products and services.

How To Gather Competitive Intelligence

gather competitive intelligence

Competitive intelligence comes in many shapes and forms, and the degree of importance will depend on the nature of the business. However, some useful indicators of competitor health are examined below.

Websites and app statistics

Website trackers and app ranking websites can measure the performance of websites and mobile apps. They can analyze where the best performers are by region, category, downloads or visits, ranking, and so on. Outperformance and underperformance will be clear through monthly statistics.

Taking a sidestep, it illustrates a company’s SEO effectiveness and whether it uses best practice guidelines. Here are some measurable points:

  • Keyword usage
  • Publishing schedules
  • Social media activity
  • Followers and engagement
  • Organic search rankings

These indicators and more can determine what’s helping or deterring your competitors’ sales and traffic and help you stay in the loop about what competitors are doing successfully and how it can improve some of your own business processes.

Pricing

Pricing models help businesses determine how much they should charge to make a profit. For some companies, pricing is one of the most important data points. For others, less so. Depending on a company’s pricing strategy, its pricing may vary slightly or change drastically. For example, a niche business addressing a smaller target market may have more control over price than a mass market business.

Think of a company like Ferarri. It produces a relatively small number of vehicles yearly but specifically targets the high-performance vehicle market. Its clientele is generally high-net-worth individuals, so pricing isn’t a major concern. But then there are companies like Walmart. It must maintain a consistent pricing strategy to undercut competitors and gain significant market share to stay competitive with other major retailers such as Target and Costco.

Companies also utilize different pricing strategies. Many businesses will often use some combination of the below:

  • Premium pricing
  • Low-cost pricing
  • Subscription pricing
  • Bundling
  • Upselling and cross-selling

Press releases

Public press releases are an excellent way to gain insight into what the competition is up to. There are plenty of stories published about competitor strategy, such as:

  • New product developments
  • A new sector it is entering
  • What partners they’re teaming up with
  • Strategic alliances forged
  • Where they’re making investments
  • What firms provided them with funding
  • Mergers and acquisitions

Taking this information into account allows businesses to reassess their own strategy. Are you doing enough to keep up with the competition? Is there a chance a competitor could steal some of your business’s market share? If threats stand in the way of your company’s success, dissecting this data will help develop rapid responses to cement competitive positions in a market.

Quarterly results

How is the competitor performing on an annual and quarterly basis? If they’re publicly traded, competitor companies will have to publish their results. This provides a window of opportunity to gather new information. Often, businesses will discuss major opportunities and why different segments are outperforming or underperforming. They will also share value propositions and plans to deliver returns to shareholders. Some of the main revelations include:

  • Revenue growth
  • Profit growth
  • Customer churn
  • Net revenue retention
  • Market opportunities
  • Market challenges
  • Core expenses
  • Financial standing
  • Leadership’s execution

There is a mountain of competitive intelligence in these reports, all of which can be used to get a leg up on the competition.

Product updates and releases

Product updates and new product launches will reveal how quickly competitors are innovating. Adaptation to changing market dynamics and customer requests can win over customers. As such, it’s important for your own business to continue product rollouts and keep an eye on the competition simultaneously.

Marketing strategies

Researching competitor marketing strategies will help you understand how best to serve and engage customers. In the modern day, many companies will operate multi-marketing strategies, using a blend of traditional and digital advertising in various formats such as audio, visual, or a combination.

Print, television, radio, and in-person displays are more traditional methods, whereas social media, search, mobile, and web are more digital-focused approaches. Seeing your competitor’s strategy is important, but more important is its effectiveness. Since marketing campaigns are measurable, here are a few questions you should ask yourself about competitors:

  • Strategy: What marketing split is used, and which methods are winning or failing?
  • Spending: Are they recruiting paid media or using an organic strategy?
  • Return on investment: Is it generating additional revenue and new customers?
  • Impressions gained: Is it improving brand recognition and loyalty among a customer base?
  • Sales: Does your competitor rely on marketing to make money?

The last point is important. Brands investing too heavily in marketing will see results in their bottom line. This can impact margins and profit in the long run. On the other hand, it can be argued that substantial investments can do wonders for brands and consistent messaging is crucial for retaining brand positioning. We can see this in multinational giants such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and Nike.

Talent acquisition

Glassdoor and Indeed are some of the usual platforms highlighting how well employees get on. Keeping an eye on the following is good practice:

  • Team sizes
  • Approval of management’s style
  • Satisfaction with working conditions
  • Salary package, benefits, and other compensation
  • Hiring volume, cutbacks, and layoffs

Human resources departments can use this public data to help build employee wellbeing initiatives that help existing and future employees prosper. Businesses can measure their entire packages’ competitiveness to ensure they’re always attracting the top talent too. Incentives such as work-from-home optionality, bonus structures, and cover for expenses are all issues that should be analyzed. It can allow you to exploit competitor missteps by rewarding your hardworking employees in ways your competition does not.

Customer reviews

Happy customers can be a brand’s best advocates by generating positive word-of-mouth. As well they can be a great source to learn from. The same goes when it comes to customers of competing firms. Examining online reviews and using web scraping can be an excellent way to walk a mile in the customer’s shoes. Businesses can gather public data on recurring issues competitors face, improve their products and services, and solve principal issues to entice new customers. Google’s Play Store, the Apple App Store, Trust Pilot, and social media platforms are great tools to scan to find out what customers think about your competitors — what they like and dislike.

How To Do Competitive Intelligence With Web Scraping and Proxies

competitive intelligence and web scraping with proxy

Web scraping and proxies can help take your competitive intelligence research to the next level. Let’s go through some of the benefits.

Web scraping

Web scraping sends bots called crawlers to find information on internet pages. They can retrieve pricing data from price comparison platforms, sales data from e-commerce websites, visits through search engines, and customer reviews through customer feedback platforms. Guiding them with specific parameters allows you to discover vital data you need to prosper. Once the data is collected, the findings will be neatly delivered in spreadsheets.

Scraping Robot simplifies competitive intelligence research by making customizable and affordable plans. No need to build your own web scraper, and you can even start web scraping today for free! Whether your company is big or small, Rayobyte has an option to suit your needs so you can scale your business effectively.

Proxies

Rayobyte has several proxy options to help you extract data for improving social media strategies, SEO, brand management, pricing, sales, and more. As the #1 US-based proxy provider with an unwavering focus on ethically sourced data, businesses will be in safe hands with Rayobyte.

Data center proxies

With the use of Rayobyte’s data center proxies, you can conduct research around the world at scale. Data center proxies are very fast, but they can make your scraper easier to detect since they originate from a data center.

ISP proxies

If you want a comprehensive solution to source competitive intelligence data at scale, Rayobyte ISP proxies are the ultimate solution. They have the speed to rival data center proxies but are issued by ISPs, meaning their origin won’t throw up a red flag to sites looking out for bots. As a premium tier product, these proxies have undergone rigorous testing to ensure they continuously outperform. Plus, as you scale, you get more value for your money because of Rayobyte’s pricing strategy.

Residential proxies

Residential proxies use an IP address issued by an Internet Service Provider (ISP). They come from real users, who are compensated for using their IP addresses. Residential proxies carry the highest authority level of all the proxies. These proxies are the actual IP addresses of individuals and are associated with ISPs, giving them a high level of trustworthiness in the eyes of website administrators. Using residential proxies gives you access to a vast network of IP addresses belonging to millions of devices worldwide. Using these trustworthy IP addresses gives your web scraping activity a more human and less bot-like appearance to your target websites. This is handy because websites generally do not block residential IP addresses for no good reason. As long as you don’t go overboard when scraping, your scraper will likely remain undetected.

Rayobyte’s residential proxies with geo-targeting functionality give you the freedom to scrape data from anywhere. Because your web scraper can appear to be located anywhere in the world, you can access information restricted by geolocation. Another advantage of Rayobyte’s residential proxies is that they give you access to a large pool of IP addresses to collect data without being disturbed. Rayobyte does not place a limit on the number of concurrent connections you send. Each query is assigned a unique IP address. Our pool of residential IP addresses helps you avoid CAPTCHAs and other anti-scraping technologies that many websites may use.

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Final Thoughts

conclusion on competitive intelligence research

Competitive intelligence research is critical in this data-centric world. Without it, businesses could struggle to keep up with competitors and inevitably fall behind. By incorporating Rayobyte’s unique solutions, your business can start to understand and eventually get ahead of the competition by creating a defendable advantage through proxies and web scraping. Reach out to Rayobyte today!

The information contained within this article, including information posted by official staff, guest-submitted material, message board postings, or other third-party material is presented solely for the purposes of education and furtherance of the knowledge of the reader. All trademarks used in this publication are hereby acknowledged as the property of their respective owners.

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