The competition never rests. In a dynamic marketplace, organizations need a constant focus on the competition to minimize major surprises, benchmark themselves, and drive differentiation. However, most competitive intelligence teams struggle to meet broader strategic goals due to challenges like sporadic top-management support or a parochial view of the competition.
Embedding CI into strategy development through a holistic perspective of the competition and a deeply involved management is what separates the winners from the rest. Here are some of the strategic goals that organizations can achieve across manufacturing, development, marketing, and sales through a sharper focus on the competition:
Identify new market opportunities
In the late 1960s, Japan’s top automobile brand, Toyota, decided to expand its automotive sales network in the United States. They studied the top US auto brands’ challenges with meeting demands for fuel-efficient, compact cars. To fill the gap, Toyota Corona was designed specifically for American drivers. With features like a sturdy engine and automatic transmission, this model increased the US sales of Toyota vehicles to more than 20,000 units in 1966.
Following Corona’s success, the brand introduced its sub-compact range of the Corolla in 1968 which eventually became the world’s all-time best-selling passenger car. Armed with such competitive intelligence, Toyota successfully penetrated the US market and surpassed Volkswagen to become the top import brand in the country by 1975.
Identifying what has worked for your competitors, as well as their shortcomings, can reveal potential opportunities for your organization to tap into. It can reveal new customer segments that have been profitable for your competitors. By combining this insight with customer intelligence, strategic teams find new ways to position themselves in lucrative markets.
Improve sales success by addressing competitor weaknesses
Effective communication of your value proposition is paramount for sales success. You cannot win large deals on price alone – you need to figure out where you excel and your competition falls short so that you can position your products and services in a positive light relative to your competition. Here’s where strategic competitive intelligence helps.
Based on a detailed comparative assessment of the companies you compete with, you can develop convincing sales battle cards to help seal more deals. These well-researched reference documents help sales teams educate customers about your product and put forth valid reasons why they should choose them over the competition.
Identify and invest in new areas of technology
Technology plays a prominent role in elevating a firm’s competitive position and gaining an edge in the market. The more advanced a firm’s technological prowess, the greater the rewards it stands to reap. As such, keeping an eye on the competitive landscape for disruptive technologies is a must.
A technological competitive analysis can reveal the key technologies emerging in your industry and how rival firms plan to adopt them. Based on this insight, the top management can decide which technologies to pursue. This is done through the synthesis of competitive information, including:
- Each company’s market position
- Suppliers and vendors
- Patents/intellectual property (IP)
- M&A activities
- Membership with regulatory bodies
- Membership with various standards organizations
- Competitor job postings
Airbnb and Netflix were able to identify and invest in disruptive technologies that changed the landscape of the vacation rental and OTT marketplaces, respectively. Anticipating how breakthrough technologies can be used to acquire potential customers in your market can help you make informed business decisions. With strategic competitive intelligence, you can devise actionable strategies for your businesses to stay ahead of others in the industry.
Develop winning products
Competitive intelligence gained from customer surveys, IP research, and other secondary sources of business information can reveal whitespaces and opportunities for developing new and existing products/services.
Despite being in the market for nearly five years, a global IT solutions provider was struggling to understand the reasons behind the low adoption of its decorative software product. Through a consumer survey that aimed to find out the product’s strengths and weaknesses relative to the competition, it was able to not only make informed changes to its product but also develop better marketing campaigns to drive awareness.
Analyzing how customers perceive and use products/services by the competition and benchmarking their performance against your own is highly valuable for successful product development. It helps you determine the product attributes and features that matter most to them, their expectations, sentiment towards rival products, and more to guide better product development and marketing decisions.