Competitive intelligence can be very important for an organization in advancing their services and products, helping them to stay ahead of the competition. This information can help marketing departments identify new competitors in the industry, and in turn, analyze their own strategies. Staying competitive is a necessity for any business. Organizations should utilize and use competitive intelligence to advance their business while staying aware of any ethical implications involved.
Competitive intelligence is gaining knowledge about the competition’s products, services or new offerings and possible changes in their policies. (Perresault, Cannon & McCarthy 2009). Anytime a company gains information on a competitor, they are faced with ethical decisions of how they may use this information.
An organization must be very careful about proprietary information. This is not information you should be spouting off to customers. If is for your own marketing department’s consideration so you can adjust the marketing strategy as needed.
Competitive intelligence about competitors can often be easily accessed. Some resources are very inexpensive and readily available such as internet searches. You can gain a great amount of knowledge about a company’s product offerings, innovations, sales numbers and financial forecast by accessing the company’s website. If looking for information about financial solvency, the company’s own website is a great place to begin your search. Most corporations have a page dedicated to investor relations. You can often find information there regarding SEC filings, current NASDAQ stock quotes, corporate profiles and quarterly financial results. While there, look for a “What’s New” page or any listings of the company being “in the news.” Valuable information about new product offerings can be gained by accessing news press releases.
Another way corporations gain information about their competitors is from their own customers. Company employees, particularly those involved in sales and marketing, may often engage in conversations who reveal confidential information about competitors. It is highly risky and potentially illegal to share unconfirmed information abou the competition. The best practice is to relay the information to a specific person in the organization who is responsible for marketing research. News or mergers, buy-outs and business closings must never be shared outside of your own organization. Use competitive knowledge wisely and ethically to adjust or modify your company’s marketing strategy.
Perreault, W. D., Jr, Cannon, J. P., & McCarthy, E. J. (2009). Basic marketing: a marketing strategy planning approach. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin.