Competitive Intelligence: Gathering Insights on Competitors in the UK
When delving into the fast-paced business landscape of the UK, it is absolutely crucial to stay one step ahead of your competitors. As markets become increasingly dynamic, businesses need to be equipped with the right tools to navigate the complexities of the competitive landscape. In order to help businesses navigate this, more companies than ever are turning to competitive Intelligence, an information-gathering practice that goes beyond mere data collection. Competitive intelligence invites a lens through which businesses can gain profound insights into their rivals and industry dynamics.
What is competitive intelligence?
Competitive intelligence refers to the process of gathering, analysing and utilising information about a business’s competitors and the market in which the business operates. The goal of competitive intelligence is to provide decision-makers with insights and actionable intelligence to predict where their competitors are going, along with possible market and industry trends. This allows you not only to stay informed within the market but to have a competitive advantage.
Why is competitive intelligence important?
Data is more important than ever. An increasing number of companies are using data to inform their business strategies as they seek to understand customer analytics and stay ahead of the competition. Employing competitive intelligence can provide crucial insights into the competitive landscape, identifying trends and analysing the strengths and weaknesses of competitors.
Competitive intelligence is especially used to inform digital marketing strategies. Advertising expenditure in the United Kingdom in 2022 amounted to 34.77 billion British pounds. With 72% of overall marketing budgets being allocated to digital marketing channels, businesses are under pressure to stay innovative and get the most yield out of their marketing spend.
Competitive intelligence is also important in helping businesses to understand their customers better. Understanding customer needs and perceptions allows businesses to tailor their products, services, and marketing efforts to better meet customer demands.
The types of Competitive Intelligence
Competitive intelligence uses various types of analysis and intelligence tools designed to gather, analyse and use information about the competitive landscape. The more common types of competitive intelligence include:
Competitor analysis is defined by whether you wish to analyse direct or indirect competitors. If you look at direct competitors. Examining direct competitors will involve an in-depth analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, strategies and performance of businesses directly competing in the same market. Choosing to focus on indirect competitors will examine businesses that offer similar products or services, or serve similar customer needs.
Every business wants to understand its consumers better. A good start would be to monitor your customer satisfaction to see whether you’re continuing to provide a good service and value for money. Crucially, performing an in-depth analysis of your customers’ behaviours and preferences could have a huge effect on your future strategy and decide whether you decide to next invest your money. Not only will this save you money, but you’ll be able to tailor your future products to suit your customers’ needs.
The market analysis arm of competitive intelligence focuses on industry trends such as changing consumer preferences and technological advancements. This directly feeds in with customer analysis too. If your customers’ behaviours are changing, and this aligns with your market analysis, it’s time to redefine your strategy.
Social media/review platforms
One of the simplest ways of tracking insights into your competitors and customers is to utilise social media. Analysing social media is a good way of keeping up with the activities of competing businesses, but also customer feedback and sentiment. The latter is especially true for review platforms. Assessing competitors’ online reputation is easier than ever, with platforms such as Trustpilot and Google Reviews providing scores out of 5 for overall company reviews. Customers typically write comprehensive feedback to accompany the score, which can be a treasure trove of information.
The Competitive Intelligence cycle
The competitive intelligence cycle refers to the process that businesses follow to collect, analyse and utilise information about their competitors or the market in which they operate. There are slight variations per company and industry, but generally, there are five accepted steps of competitive intelligence:
In the planning stage, businesses identify the scope of the competitive intelligence process. They’ll decide upon an objective, select the business(es) to be monitored and hone in on which part of the industry or market they’ll focus on. Effective competitive intelligence planning happens inside and outside of the business. Away from your business, you’ll select your competitors and data sources. Inside your business, you can start to foster a culture of competitive intelligence.
The data you gather throughout the process is crucial. Here is where you’ll start to gather information from various sources such as social media, industry reports, news articles, plus much more. Some companies also prefer to use competitive intelligence analysts or competitor analysis tools. Companies will collect both primary data (gathered directly) and secondary data (existing information from external sources).
Processing and Analysis
Once you have the data, you’ll have the huge responsibility of effectively utilising it. This process involves converting the data into analysis fit for your company’s relevant departments. Businesses typically use analytical techniques such as SWOT/PESTEL analysis or competitor profiling, with detailed profiles of competitors’ Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
This stage is crucial as it will underpin your entire competitive intelligence approach. It is easy to focus too much on your market research. However, your research is nothing if you cannot transform the research into intelligence. Conduct in-depth research and turn your findings into actionable points for your business.
Dissemination and feedback
Utilise your findings and action points and disseminate them across the business, so that your relevant departments can make decisions. Communicate your insights to key stakeholders, helping them to make strategic decisions. Also, you can inform their strategic planning, which can outline the next few years of your business.
Implementation and evaluation
Finally, carry out your actionable plans and strategies. Afterwards, your job is to create a feedback loop to ascertain the effectiveness of your competitive intelligence process. Then continue to monitor your findings and adjust them based on new intelligence and changes in market trends.
Tips for maximising your competitive intelligence
How effective your competitive intelligence strategy generally follows the five steps outlined above. However, there are extra pointers you can utilise when you are gathering insights on your competitors in the UK.
Set an intention
The better focused and streamlined your strategy is, the better the yield of results. Whether you’re looking to redefine your sales strategy or help your business become more innovative in the future, underline your goals early on.
Competitive analysis tools
Whilst you can effectively train your job in competitive analysis, it may be far more time-consuming and cost-effective to utilise competitive monitoring and social listening tools. Companies such as Sprout Social and Social Blade provide ‘grades’ rating the business, along with in-depth analysis of their social media accounts. Utilising technology to aid with this not only saves time and money but the data is updated in real time. Thus, you avoid the costly investment of continually refreshing and updating the data you’ve gathered.
Stay legal and ethical
The competitive intelligence market can be fiercely competitive, with businesses constantly looking for ways to outsmart each other. However, remember that any method of choice for gathering and analysing data must fall within legal and ethical boundaries. This is especially true for the UK market, who have GDPR and Data Protection policies, with heavy punishments for breaches.
Competitive intelligence makes all the difference
Composing a well-researched and effective competitive intelligence strategy can have a hugely influential effect on your business. There are many ways you can inform this, from competitor and customer analysis to market trends and insights drawn from social media and review platforms. These diverse methods of analysis serve as crucial pillars in building a sound understanding of the UK’s competitive landscape.
The competitive intelligence cycle, typically outlined in five key stages, helps to provide a structured approach for businesses to effectively gather, process and implement intelligence. Rigorous planning and data gathering are essential, as are other methods such as spending time on insightful analytics and strategic dissemination across your company. Each stage plays a vital role in the continuous improvement and adaptability of businesses.
By integrating these insights, companies can not only stay abreast of market trends but also proactively shape their strategies for sustained success. It is the perfect set-up for businesses hoping to not just survive but thrive in the UK market.
Hi, I'm Krisz
I’m helping companies enter and expand their business in Britain