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Gather and document market intelligence

Market intelligence is the information needed by all business organisations, regarding their
activities at home and, where relevant, overseas. Data that can be converted to market intelligence
will come from a range of sources. It can be collected by the organisations or the organisations
might choose to pay market research companies/contractors to gather and analyze the data. The
best option is to use both methods.
Accurate market intelligence enables a business to forecast market needs and market
trends. It contributes to the fact-based decision-making and accuracy with regard to determining
market opportunity, market penetration strategies and market development metrics.
Forecasting is the process of projecting the future numbers, characteristics and trends in a
target market. A forecast of international and business needs will show the projected or estimated
number of potential customers in a particular segment. It will take into consideration market value
and market size.
Forecasting is not an exact science; it is a process of using the available data and
information to make educated guesses – to make assumptions.

Market intelligence will enable decision-makers to estimate whether:

 their intended actions are appropriate
 they might perhaps need to alter their overall strategy
 they need to make changes to sales strategies or to product/ service design and development
 they are aiming their products/services at the correct market
 they might make inroads into new markets
 it would be profitable to expand into overseas markets
 it would be advantageous to introduce new products or services
 there are any particular conditions or events that will have a high impact on target markets

Market intelligence will help companies:

 identify changing market conditions- growth or decline
 understand the impact of changing conditions and of trends on the market
 develop a strategic market focus
 select key target markets
 identify growth opportunities
 identify ways to make use of their competitive advantage
 identify the strengths and weaknesses of the company
 make related assumptions and estimates
 focus on the market that best matches the company profile
 prioritize investments
 evaluate, formulate and validate business and marketing plans

Gathering and documenting data and information

Data and information to support the development of useful market intelligence can be
gathered as a result of networking activities and by attending expos, trade fairs, seminars and
These activities involve both formal and informal interaction and conversation with a
number of different people, from a range of backgrounds. People attending these functions can
provide valuable and interesting insights and information about international markets.

They might provide information about:

 culture/ cultural factors and social  country-specific economic and
connections market trends
 customs and procedures  a country’s GDP
 communication  consumer psychographics and
 pitfalls demographics
 opportunities  demand
 legislation  feasibility
 shifting market conditions
When gathering data and information it will be necessary to take into
consideration the following:
 procedures for recording/documenting any data collected
 the type and amount of data needed in order to generate actionable intelligence that will
support real-time decision making
 how the data will be analyzed
 how the information once developed can be used
 technological advancements in data collection, storage, analytics, and visualization
 how much the company can afford to invest in data analysis and visualization capabilities
 the adoption of cloud technology by and its implications for analytics implementation
 the range of different tools and analytics systems that will help identify the direction in
which trends are heading
 the cost of data storage
 whether the company should analyze its own data or contract other companies to collect
and analyze data for them
Business Needs
Market research and market intelligence align with business intelligence.
Business intelligence (BI) is a term that is frequently used interchangeably with the term
market intelligence, incorrectly.
‘Business intelligence refers to all of the information used by a company for the purposes
of decision-making, but tends to refer to data relating to the company itself, rather than its market
environment. BI therefore includes sales data, production data and financial data, and tends to be
collected internally rather than by outside agencies. BI is usually closely related to businesses’
KPIs (key performance indicators)’ (
Market intelligence is used to add value to the business and to help meet business needs –
goals and objectives. It can assist with many or even most of the business decisions to be made,
but its main purpose is to assist with company growth.
Further sources of market intelligence
Market intelligence uses multiple sources of information to create a broad picture of the
company's existing market, customers, problems, competition, and its growth potential for new
products and services or new markets. It focuses on demographic and geographic information
relating to customers, in order to provide forecasts related to international market and business

Data and information that will contribute to the development of useful market intelligence will
come from internal and external, local and international sources that include:
 market research and market  newspapers, magazines, television
intelligence service organisations and other media
 customers/ consumers and prospects  Austrade
 joint venture partners  international government,
 universities that can provide up-to- manufacturing, infrastructure and
date research data and analyses planning agencies
 industry influencers  government’s – government statistics
 industry publications and industry  web analytics
associations/ peak industry bodies  the organization’s sales force
 Social media—twitter, LinkedIn,  a range of international bodies
face book, Instagram etc.  chambers of commerce and business
 digital tools and analytics that help institutes
assess industry behavior  foreign embassies and trade missions
 competitors / competitor analyses  the companies register or equivalent
 online directories in different countries
 world industry reports

Customers and consumers - feedback

Data can be gathered by setting up processes to collect, collate, document and maintain
customer/ consumer feedback. This is a low cost but extremely effective process of collecting data
that will contribute to market intelligence.
Competitor activities
Intelligence regarding competitor activities is vital.
Keeping track of the competition and the state of the industry in which the organisations
operates is an integral part of operating any business and market intelligence analysis and analytics
can help improve the organization’s business model and the accuracy of its projections.
Identify the competition, particularly in international markets. Find out what they sell and
to whom. Find out how well the product/service sells, why people purchase and what the brand
image is. Evaluate things like design, performance, ease-of-use, warranty, price point and customer
support. Each organisations should compare their products or services with those of the
competition and collect data about the markets in which competitors are most active.
A very simple method of gathering information is just to survey what competitors are
actually doing, by visiting their websites or stores and observing.
Information in industry magazines or journals; published information about the number
and type of a competitor’s customers and information gathered from business associates can assist
with competitor analysis.

Customer queries/enquiries
Keep track of customer enquiries – from local or international sources. These can be
leveraged to provide information about customer and market needs and trends. Document all
enquiries– what enquiries are made, who made them, why are they being made and what the
customers actually want.

Sources of raw data for analysis can include sales logs (how much, how often, where) and
surveys. Sales people have the maximum interaction with customers and are in a great position to
provide practical and realistic market feedback.
An organization’s sales force can provide extremely useful information. They deal directly
with customers and they understand how well their marketing strategies are working, what
customer’s think of the products/ services on offer and how they respond to the sales message.
They can also elicit from customers, information about product/ service improvements or new
products that might be accepted in the market. Customers will be, in the main, happy to provide
information about competitor products and services and comparative ratings.

The Internet
Always check for customer feedback online.
The Internet can also be an amazingly useful tool for gathering data and information. Social
media monitoring can be used to find out what customers think of an organization’s product/
service offering, what information is being exchanged and what customers want or expect from a
There are social media monitoring agencies that map various platforms for their clients, to
find out what consumer opinions are. They can even try to build a brand or change consumer
psychology through online interactions such as Facebook or Twitter comments, blogs, forum posts
For organisations intending to enter overseas markets or to increase their participation in
overseas markets, collecting, documenting and evaluating the information gathered from social
media and other Internet sources will be extremely valuable.
Survey and information gathering tools can be purchased and downloaded from the
internet. Business organisations wishing to conduct their own research or conduct surveys can
readily access these tools.
Customer lists should be documented and properly maintained/ kept up to date.
An organization’s own e-commerce records and analytics will provide market intelligence
that contributes to forecasts. If the organisations is operating an e-commerce site they will be able
to gather and record data relating to where their customers come from, what they look at, what
they purchase and how satisfied they are with their purchases. They identify patterns then test
different content, taglines, signposts and offers, using market intelligence to determine new
directions or to improve what they do.
Keeping track of all the information included in market intelligence can become time-
consuming. Again, online tools exist to help gather, analyze and store market intelligence, with
options for cloud management and storage.
Evaluate commercial services providing market intelligence
Market intelligence is used to answer concrete questions about current and potential
customers and about competitors. It helps a company determine strategic and marketing goals. It
is largely synonymous with market research- same process of gathering, recording, analyzing and
interpreting market data.
‘In practice market intelligence tends to refer to the branch of market research called market
assessment research, which is designed to help a company establish a foothold in a market, or
increase its presence in a market. As such, typical areas covered would be routes to market
analysis, market size calculations, competitor analysis, substitute products (or services) analysis,
and market growth predictions – in summary, information about the external market environment’.

It will be used to:

 help an organisations enter a new market, or expand its presence in a market
 minimize the risk of making wrong or inappropriate investment decisions
 help develop and maintain a competitive advantage
 obtain first mover advantage
 give customers/ consumers what they want
 expand the organization’s market share
 establish and maintain a distinct corporate identity
 tailor products and marketing efforts to meet market and customer/ consumer needs
 compliment the organization’s vision for the future
 identify and maneuver their positioning

Commercial services
For organisations not prepared to collect their own data, and use or hire an in-house analyst,
a third-party specialist could help with the development of appropriate and useful market
Although a lot of information can be found on line, much valuable information cannot be
found on line. General information is often freely available but the collection of competitor
information that is specific, reliable and validated can require the skills of a specialist market
intelligence provider who can, for example, ‘glean information from the competitor or another
source. Similarly technical information, particularly in rapidly evolving (and therefore
confidential) areas such as product development, is often poorly documented and therefore
requires one-on-one discussion with a technologist’. (
A specialist analyst can develop a nuanced picture of the market by communicating with
manufacturers, distributors, clients/ customers/ consumers, and others involved in the creation and
distribution of the company’s products/ services. This type of dialogue, along with hard data and
market research, makes up the majority of a company's market intelligence.
Businesses can use this information to make important decisions, including those related
to market opportunities and market development.
There are many specialized services available and all can be identified on the internet.
Choosing the right company or contractor is important.

Making a selection
Each organisations will have their own particular vision and their own particular needs.
There is no one method to follow when making a selection.
The analyst selected must understand the objectives of the company and be in tune with its
needs. The company will need to develop criteria against which they can evaluate any commercial
services, in order to make a selection regarding the service they wish to use. As with any other
service it is better to get quotes or to enter into initial negotiations with more than one service
provider, in order to make comparisons.
Criteria that a company might consider:
 costs attributed to the contracted analyst
 the risks of using external service providers
 the benefits of using external providers
 the reputation of the analyst (company)
 how to measure value for money
 how to make comparisons between the offers from the different companies
They need to know what each analyst will do and provide.
For example, will the analyst provide:
 pricing research results that calculate what prices the market would bear for different types
of offering
 detailed competitor profiles covering topics such as company characteristics
 views on marketing strategies and expansion intentions
 the results of competitor pricing research
 data gathered as result of interviews with customers, competitors, suppliers and other
industry players and experts
 results of internet, website, ecommerce and press searches
 international market data from countries such as China, India, Russia, South Africa and
Brazil which are seeing repeated double-digit growth rates year-on-year
 information about:
o where the company should devote more resources
o which markets it could try to infiltrate next
o any patterns associated with the company’s best customers and their purchasing
o what products could be cross-marketed to existing customers
o the demographic segments into which the company can push new and existing
 Results within the organization’s time frames and deadlines?

Will they access:

 ‘Potential buyers – to ascertain how much demand there is for the product/service
 Distributors, agents and other intermediaries – to find out how to best get products and
services to market, and again to ascertain how much demand there is for the product/service
 Competitors – to find out how other companies have successfully entered and stayed in
the market, and judge the market’s likely response to a new entrant
 Industry experts such as journalists and industry associations – these organizations
can frequently provide a quick and concise overview of the market, as well as numerous
leads in the form of contact details of market players’ (
 Published information such as annual reports and industry reports?
The organisations purchasing the research and analysis services will need to establish a good
relationship with the commercial service and agree on the type, quality and quantity of research
required. Both organisations must agree on the purpose of the research and the use to which it will
be put.

Analyze market intelligence and evaluate the organization’s marketing

Market intelligence is the result of the collection, collation and analysis of data. It must be
presented in a format that makes it easy to read, understand and use.

Relevance and applicability

The research results - the market intelligence - must be measured against the pre-
determined criteria to make a decision about its relevance, usefulness and applicability to the
organization’s international business activity.
Keep in mind that the organisations might have more than one target market, depending on
the diversity of its products/service offerings.
If the gathered and reported intelligence meets the organization’s expectations and offers
information that is both accurate and relevant then it will be useful in terms of developing forecasts
that will impact on the organization’s strategic planning and on its future business needs, plans
and intentions.
The organisations must be able to use market intelligence to drive better, more informed
decision making around markets, market penetration, competitive strategies and product/ service
Market intelligence can be applied in order to connect with the market, streamline market
spend and get more out of the marketing dollar.

Monitoring and evaluation

It is critical to constantly monitor and evaluate the outcomes of marketing plans and the
actual marketing and sales performance related to specific product /services and target markets.
This applies to single or joint ventures.
Market intelligence will offer information that enables an organisations to measure its own
performance in the market and to identify changes, opportunities or innovations that will help with
penetration and positioning. It will measure absent outcomes and help identify the viability of
particular target markets. If something costs more than it is returning (ROI) it is not a sustainable
business strategy.

Evaluation of market performance will require, along with market intelligence, the collection,
collation and analysis of data from internal sources and relating to:
 sales/ sales numbers
 revenue
 customer satisfaction
 customer complaints
 customer requests
 costs – return on investment (ROI)
 budgets
 up-take
 meeting KPIs
 marketing mix
 positioning
 pricing

This will assist with:

 ‘Increasing competitive intelligence and anticipating competitor reactions to new
marketing strategies
 More accurately assessing company marketing assets such as brand equity and its level of
effectiveness among target audiences
 Building a knowledge base of current and historic data that help drive marketing mix
decisions and steer the company through rapidly changing market conditions’
Marketing performance must be evaluated because ‘The intangible benefits of marketing –
improving and enhancing brand awareness; educating customers and prospects about product
benefits; and strengthening stakeholder relationships … [it] should be a logical extension of the
planning and budgeting exercise that happens before a company’s fiscal year. The goals that are
set should be both measurable and applicable to every marketing role within an organization.
Companies [should] employ various methodologies to measure marketing performance and ensure
they meet those performance goals’. (

Marketing performance metrics help measure the degree to which marketing spending
contributes to profits and highlight how marketing contributes to, and complements sales and
customer service.
‘All measurement systems should take into account accuracy, repeatability,
reproducibility, bias, and data shifts, and data drifts. Measurement error must be quantified so that
managers can react to changes in conditions, but not to changes due to measurement variation’.
Marketing performance connects directly with the financial performance of the
To address marketing performance it is necessary to:
 develop realistic KPIs
 use Return on Investment (ROI) and, possibly, Return on Marketing Investment (ROIM)
 measure marketing results/ responses from customers’/ consumers’ viewpoints
 include all marketing activities
 monitor and review on a regular basis
 meet the specific technical criteria required of all measurement systems
 consistently use formalized methodologies to gather data and monitor marketing
performance, in order to make accurate and useful comparisons(
 use the data collected to identify meaningful performance patterns and to identify the ways
in which marketing generates revenue
By developing marketing metrics relevant to the company and its goals, organisations can
readily monitor their performance and make adjustments as needed.
A range of tools can be used to gather data that informs an organisations about opportunities,
threats, and its own strengths and weaknesses. These tools include SWOT, PEST, PESTLE,
STEEP etc. analysis tools. Information generated by using these tools can contribute to a sound
evaluation of the organization’s marketing performance.

Measurement results are used to:

 identify:
o consumer and brand awareness
o market share
o contribution margins (cost-volume-profit analysis)
o the company’s market strengths and weaknesses
 anticipate competitor reactions to new products/ services and/or new marketing strategies
 anticipate consumer reactions to new products/ services
 adapt marketing strategies to fit with the expectations and behaviors of different countries/
local and international markets
 adapt products and services to meet the needs of customers in different countries/ local and
international markets
 use current and historic data to help drive marketing mix and positioning decisions, and
help the company adapt to rapidly changing market conditions or to environmental/ cultural
 prioritize investments—here or overseas
 set marketing objectives and determine or manage the approach and operational structure
for an organisations marketing internationally

International joint ventures

Many firms wishing to operate in International markets, particularly those in Asia/ South
East Asia, do so as partners in an Internal Joint Venture (IJV).
With the globalization of markets and increasing domestic competition, foreign markets
offer natural opportunities for growth-oriented domestic companies, but often breaking into and
maintain a presence in international markets can be difficult, time consuming and expensive.
Building relationships within the market can be hard for entities not already based in the country.
For these reasons joint ventures with a partner from, or that already markets in that particular
country or region, can be beneficial.
Even when partnering in an IJV monitoring and evaluation of the market is necessary.

Companies need to understand:

 market characteristics
 differences between the home country and the country in which the IJV operates
 the degree of commitment of the partners
 the marketing orientation of senior management in the IJV companies
 the factors (including economic factors relevant to the particular country or region) that
will influence marketing performance
 marketing decision variables influencing successful import/ export activities, where

Of importance to the evaluation process is:

 ‘Level of Interest: Key Relationships Made, Number of Opportunities, Pilots
 Traction in Market: Marquee Logo Wins, Customers Wins, Prioritized Prospect Wins
 Competitiveness/Market Maturity: Lead to Opportunity Conversion Rate, Win Rate
 Top Line Results: Revenue, Bookings, Committed Revenue Exceeding Plan of Record
 Takeaways/Competitive Wins: Win XX% of deals against competitor X
 Capital Efficiency: Customer Acquisition Cost, Investment Multiple, Return on Investment
 Partner/Channel Performance: Potential Partner Interactions, Quality Partners Signed On,
Co-Marketing Investment Commitments, Partner Generated Leads, Opportunities or Wins,
Partners Generated MRR’ (

Assess and evaluate the market intelligence for its relevance and applicability to the
organization’s international business activity, for example; its strategic objectives, such as gaining
a foothold in a foreign market, collaborative research and development, and overcoming barriers
to entry or expansion, capital efficiency and relationships.
In international (and domestic) markets marketing performance can be reduced to (1) basic
company offerings, (2) contractual links with foreign distributors/agents, (3) promotion and (4)
pricing. (
Online marketing
Marketing analytics is the process of measuring, analyzing, and managing the
organization’s marketing strategy/ies and performance to maximize its effectiveness and optimize
return on investment (ROI).
Analytics allow marketers to be more efficient and maximize the effectiveness of the
marketing budget.

If an organisations offers online marketing to its customers (local and international) then it
will be necessary, in order to evaluate performance, to collect and use data relating to specific
web marketing metrics such as:
 quality scores  landing page optimization
 key words  mobile optimization
 impression share  conversions
 click-through rate  customer presences and trends
 keyword optimization  feedback
 account activity  social media network results – leads/
 ad text optimization sales

Evaluation of market performance is intended to track sales plus any wasteful spending.
The ability to track and analyze website activity and identify where the traffic comes from (where
the market is), as well the ability to analyze sales metrics, is vital to the success of any online
The business needs to know about:
 ‘Product Design: Keywords can reveal exactly what features or solutions your customers
are looking for.
 Customer Surveys: By examining keyword frequency data you can infer the relative
priorities of competing interests.
 Industry Trends: By monitoring the relative change in keyword frequencies you can
identify and predict trends in customer behavior.
 Customer Support: Understand where customers are struggling the most and how support
resources should be deployed’.(
Market evaluations can help the organisations forecast future direction and streamline its
marketing efforts in order to achieve its desired goals.

Additional Reading
Video Links
 5 Key Business Intelligence Trends for 2019
 Starbucks SWOT Analysis
Web Links
 Benefits and risks of trade shows and exhibitions
 Country commercial guides
Check your Knowledge
True or False statements. Answer True (T) or False (F).

True False
1. Marketing is the processes of selling products and services.
2. Market intelligence is only needed by businesses that operate in
international markets.
3. Forecasting is a process of using data and information to make educated
4. Some of the data to inform market intelligence can be gathered at
networking functions, expos, trade fairs, seminars and conferences.
5. Market intelligence uses information to create a picture of the
company's existing market, customers, problems, competition, and
growth potential.
6. Customer and consumer feedback is a very unimportant part of market
7. Sometimes it is wise to use the services of commercial companies that
specialize in gathering and interpreting marketed data.
8. Even organisations that participate in IJVs must utilize market
intelligence to ensure that the business is on track to achieve its
Multiple choice questions. Select the answer you think is correct.
1. Market intelligence is:
a. Needed so you can determine how smart your customers are.
b. Only needed for domestic marketing.
c. Information that organisations can use to achieve their goals.
d. Used to make decisions about how many staff the organisations needs to employ.
2. One of the reasons why marketing performance should be consistently monitored and
evaluated is to:
a. Identify which salespeople are performing well and which salespeople are
b. Decide what marketing media should be used.
c. Summarize the quantity of product/services sold during a particular period of
d. Highlight how marketing contributes to, and complements sales and customer