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Competitive Intelligence in 2024: Staying Ahead of The Game

As more startups join every industry (Figure 1), the ecosystem grows. More startups mean more competition to keep existing businesses on their toes.

As the business environment becomes more competitive, it can be challenging for businesses to stay ahead of the curve and remain attractive to customers. That is where competitive intelligence (CI) comes into play. CI is the collection and analysis of information from competitors in the same industry to improve a company’s decision-making and strategic planning. 

To help business leverage effective competitive intelligence in their businesses, this article explores:

  • What competitive intelligence is
  • The benefits it provides to businesses
  • Top 5 best practices to achieve competitive intelligence

Figure 1. Global startup ecosystem by industry

A Pie chart that shows the distribution of VC-funded startups worldwide in 2022, by industry and deal count.
Source: Statista

What is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive intelligence (CI) is a process that involves gathering, analyzing, and using data regarding the market, competitors, and customers to gain insights into the market and anticipate future market changes. The goal of CI is to identify opportunities and potential threats that can impact the business.

Competitive intelligence can help businesses:

Top 5 benefits of competitive intelligence

This section highlights the key benefits a business can achieve from effective competitive intelligence. 

Competitive intelligence helps businesses stay up-to-date with the latest trends in their industry, including new product offerings and pricing strategies.

For instance, Amazon1 identified the increasing popularity of electronic devices and other products, which led the company to invest in developing its own line of electronics, such as the Amazon Echo, Fire TV, and other products.

Now they have a diverse range of products:

A screenshot of Amazon's basics products homepage
Source: Amazon

2. Optimize pricing and promotions

Pricing is one of the main reasons why customers may abandon their purchases (Figure 2). If there are cheaper alternatives available elsewhere, customers may opt to switch to them. Therefore, businesses need to monitor their competitors’ prices and promotions to stay competitive in their industry.
Competitive intelligence allows businesses to stay on top of their game when it comes to pricing and promotional strategies. For example, a retailer can use CI to monitor their competitors’ prices across various channels and offer lower prices for the same products to attract more customers. This can be applied to any industry, whether it’s retail, hospitality, or any other sector where price competitiveness is a key factor in attracting and retaining customers.

Figure 2. Top reasons why customers abandon shopping carts during checkout (2022 study)

Top reasons why customers abandon shopping carts during checkout (2022 study)
Source: Baymard Institute

3. Improve product offerings and customer experience

Knowing what your customers want is essential in beating your competitors. CI provides insights into customer preferences and expectations, which helps businesses tailor their product offerings and customer experience.

For instance, If your customers value faster deliveries and easy returns, you can focus your efforts on improving them to get a competitive edge.

Watch how a DIY leader in France improved its offerings and pricing strategy through competitive intelligence:

4. Enhance marketing strategies

Competitive intelligence also allows businesses to understand their competitors’ marketing strategies and identify areas for improvement in their own strategies. 

For instance, an online fashion retailer can leverage competitor intelligence to analyze its competitors’ social media presence and launch its own social media campaign to gain a competitive edge.

5. Forecast potential threats

Preparing for the future will make your business more resilient than your competitors. CI enables businesses to forecast potential threats to their customer base, such as changes in regulations or disruptive technologies, and take precautions to avoid them early on.

An AI-powered solution can help you implement effective competitive intelligence in your business. BrightData offers an AI-powered web data platform to help businesses stay ahead of the curve. The platform offers:

  • Data analytics of multiple competitors
  • Track competitor pricing for their products and services
  • Monitor competitor product catalogs to help you improve yours
  • Monitor consumer sentiment toward your brand
an illustration showing brightdata's offerings

5 ways to achieve competitive intelligence

This section highlights some of the best practices that can help business leaders achieve competitive intelligence.

1. Monitor competitors’ websites

A recent study on the American market identified that website-related issues are among the main causes of shoppers not purchasing from a brand (Figure 3). If your website is faulty or too complicated, customers will likely close the tab and move on to a competitor’s site.

One way to achieve competitive intelligence is by regularly monitoring competitors’ websites for changes in pricing, product offerings, and promotional strategies. 

For example, an online store can use an e-commerce analytics tool to monitor a competitor’s website for changes and receive alerts when updates occur.

Figure 3. Main reasons why customers give up online shopping in the US

Main reasons why customers give up online shopping in the US
Source: Statista

2. Analyze social media activity

You can also achieve competitive intelligence through social media monitoring. A smart tool, such as a web crawler,  with social media monitoring features can provide valuable insights into competitors’ marketing strategies. It can also show how the competitors are engaging with their customers on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, etc. 

For instance, a business can use social media monitoring tools to track competitors’ social media activities and analyze their followers’ demographics and preferences.

3. Conduct customer surveys

Conducting customer surveys can provide insights into competitors’ strengths and weaknesses from the perspective of the customers, helping a business to develop a more effective competitive strategy. 

A business can conduct surveys to gather feedback on its competitors’: 

  • products and services 
  • pricing strategies
  • customer experience

4. Attend industry events

Attending industry events provides opportunities for business leaders to network with competitors and learn about their strategies and product offerings. For instance, attending industry-specific trade shows, conferences, and webinars can help gather insights into the developments and trends of the sector. It can also help businesses identify new competitors and provide opportunities to network with potential partners and collaborators.  

5. Hire a customer intelligence professional or dedicate a team

Some businesses have hundreds of competitors, if not thousands. Hiring a competitive intelligence professional or a dedicated team can provide such organizations with expert insights and strategies.

A CI professional can analyze market trends and provide recommendations for pricing, product offerings, and marketing strategies.

Further reading

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References

  1. Creswell, J. (June 23, 2018). “How Amazon Steers Shoppers to Its Own Products.The New York Times. (Accessed: March 03, 2023)
Access Cem's 2 decades of B2B tech experience as a tech consultant, enterprise leader, startup entrepreneur & industry analyst. Leverage insights informing top Fortune 500 every month.
Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst
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Shehmir Javaid
Shehmir Javaid is an industry analyst in AIMultiple. He has a background in logistics and supply chain technology research. He completed his MSc in logistics and operations management and Bachelor's in international business administration From Cardiff University UK.

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