Market and competitive intelligence is the process of collecting and analyzing data about companies or groups of companies.
Businesses and individuals may perform market and competitive intelligence for a variety of reasons, including:
- to generate new business growth opportunities by identifying gaps in a market or ways to differentiate a product;
- to better understand the language of a market, which can inform and improve marketing efforts; and
- to track the progress of an investment portfolio and identify new investment opportunities.
Despite these benefits, it has traditionally been difficult to do comprehensive research because the data provided by most market intelligence tools is incomplete, and the sheer amount of sources of competitive intelligence data can be overwhelming — especially when it comes to researching private companies.
To truly keep your finger on the pulse of your industry, you need to spend time on market and competitive intelligence every day.
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What is Market Intelligence?
Market intelligence is the process of researching a collection of companies that offer similar products and services and/or target the same customer base — for example, the cybersecurity market or the finance automation market.
Market intelligence data may include information about the size of the market (how many companies are in it), how large and established the companies are, what funding they’ve received, and the adjacent markets they play in. Messaging information — what companies are saying and where and how they’re saying it — should also be considered.
The right market intelligence tools give startups a better perspective on their markets, which can make for better funding and partnership discussions.
What is Competitive Intelligence?
Competitive intelligence is similar to market intelligence, but it specifically refers to research on companies that are vying for the same customers. Knowing competitors cold is a key component of the market-in approach to company building: developing a differentiation based on data about what other companies are doing and saying.
For startups, most competitors will be private companies, for which data can be hard to come by. Sources of competitive intelligence range from large analyst firms’ reports to smaller, more distributed data points. This data is often difficult to gather and analyze because many private, early-stage companies are intentionally quiet about their products, strategy and finances. And unlike public companies, they don’t have to disclose much of that information.
Market and Competitive Intelligence Throughout the Startup Lifecycle
Market and competitive intelligence is valuable throughout the startup lifecycle; it can help entrepreneurs and operators as they look to find product market fit, bring their product to market and scale.
Here are some questions that research can help startups answer at different stages of their journey:
- Is there a market?
- Do companies in the market receive funding?
- How competitive is it?
- What are people talking about?
- Are there problems without good solutions?
- Where are the watering holes for prospects?
- Who are the media, analysts and influencers in this market?
- What have my competitors announced?
- Is there a need for my offering?
- Am I actually prepared if the launch is successful?
- What strategic acquirers should we follow?
- Are there any tuck-in acquisition opportunities?
- What holes do we have in our offering or roadmap?
- Are we ahead of market trends over the next five years?
- Have we built an engaged community of evangelists?
- Is our message resonating?
- Are we catching up to incumbents?
- Are new challengers arriving on the scene?
- Is our internal technology keeping up?
- What investors should we follow?
Making Sense of Market Research
Companies and markets are constantly evolving, and it’s crucial to keep up. But many people don’t know where to start with market and competitive intelligence — or how to make sense of it once they do.
York IE Fuel is a SaaS platform that provides digestible market and competitive intelligence to help busy entrepreneurs and operators track their markets, generate insights and support their growth strategies. It contains hundreds of data points on over 1 million companies. To sign up for free, visit fuel.york.ie/signup.