What are the sources of competitive information?

Competitive information comes from three general areas. First is public domain information - this information is available to anyone. Many industries are heavily regulated and any publicly listed company has a legal obligation to make certain information available. Product advertisements, additional promotional materials, annual reports and recruiting activities are, by nature, publicly available. Second is internal information. It is often surprising how much information organizations already hold on competitors. The problem is analysis and dissemination. The sales force and customer service personnel are the primary sources of CI. They are well positioned to pick-up CI from suppliers, customers and industry contacts. Organizations need to establish mechanisms such as internal networks to facilitate this activity. It is also possible to set up internal systems to monitor competitors, such as monitoring competitor prices on a weekly basis. Finally third party information – specific sources not directly linked to the competitor, e.g. Market research organizations, media such as journalists, credit rating agencies and consumer groups. A number of electronic sources exist, which provide powerful search engines enabling detailed enquiries. The Internet provides a wide range of free and paid information services.

Summary of Competitive Intelligence

CI provides an increasingly important function that underpins marketing strategy. This process provides many benefits, including anticipating competitors' actions, improved teamwork, and fostering learning and innovation within the organization. CI is based on a four step cycle. This cycle begins with planning and direction and then moves to collection, analysis and dissemination. Internal and electronic data sources have greatly increased the availability of information.


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