What is Market Intelligence and Why is it Essential in 2018?

What’s more disappointing than slow sales or your competition outpacing you? Not much, but that’s not the consumer or your competitors’ fault. Companies always need to be on their toes and thinking about how to best attract, serve and retain their customers year after year. Truth is, the market is always going to be fickle.
Consumers change with every generation (and even year by year) and you need to be able to pivot quickly in order to serve the market as it stands in any given year. Whether you’re producing clothing, furniture, or high-end leather bags, it makes no difference: market intelligence is essential in 2018.

What is Market Intelligence?

If you don’t have a thorough understanding of market intelligence, don’t worry. It’s actually very simple when viewed broadly. Market intelligence and market research are sometimes defined as two separate things, but they’re essentially the same.

Market intelligence and reserach are valuable processes. In either case, their process is the same: using data to understand the state of the market and the company’s place within it.

Though market intelligence and market research often involve using internal data such as surveys and customer information to gain insights, it also involves looking at competitors, comparable products, and public data to understand how your products fit into the marketplace.

Benefits of Market Intelligence

Aside from giving you an idea of where you stand in the market, market intelligence can offer a lot of benefits to your company, regardless of your product type. Here are the top benefits of thorough research:

  1. Gives you an idea of how your product will perform in the market against existing products.
  2. Helps you understand your audience in detail and their needs.
  3. Allows you to make changes to products if needed.
  4. Keeps you up-to-date with your competitors’ successes and failures, which can help inform your decisions.
  5. Reveals new opportunities in the market—new segments or new products.
  6. Reduces dependency on intuition and luck by informing decisions and strategic direction in product development and marketing.
  7. Improves customer retention potential.
  8. Positions you as an authority on trends, allowing you to gain a competitive edge.

In today’s fast-paced marketplace, organizations can’t afford to skimp on gathering market intelligence. Missing out on these benefits can ultimately mean the difference between success and failure.

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Using Market Intelligence to Respond to Modern Trends

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So why is market intelligence so particularly important in 2018? It’s always been a key to success but thanks to technology it’s easier than ever to access market intelligence data. Our world is changing rapidly, and companies that can harness that new data will find the most success overall. Here are some ways market intelligence can help you respond to modern market trends.

There’s a new generation with buying power—Generation Z. These consumers, born from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s hold both direct spending power and influence household spending. Market intelligence can be used to understand the needs and preferences of this up-and-coming demographic so businesses can adapt. For instance, many of these young people are concerned about social causes and the environment—60% of Gen Z-ers want to have an impact on the world.

We’re changing the way we buy, sell, and share with the rise of the sharing economy. There are over 9,829 businesses using this model worldwide, and it’s growing in popularity among younger generations. Businesses can use market intelligence to best leverage the sharing economy effectively.

Businesses need to stay innovative in order to thrive, and market intelligence can help with product development and new market opportunities. Understanding what’s already out there helps businesses make good decisions and investments when it comes to opening up new opportunities.

A Complex, Ongoing Activity

Market intelligence has always been important, but in 2018, we’re lucky to have the convenience of big data tools to help us. The research process can be complex and overwhelming manually, but with new automation tools, it’s easier than ever to find the relevant data you need from your own internal sources and reputable websites. In one survey, 65% of participants anticipated moving toward automated data collection by the end of this decade. Automation, along with web-based tools, can make market intelligence affordable and effective, even for small businesses.

Though many companies stop performing market research as they grow, it’s a good idea to continue collecting data and keeping up with trends. Without this practice, you’re likely to miss out on the continual study of consumer behavior. A company that does so will always stay one step ahead of their competitors, giving their consumers exactly what they want, when they want it.  

There’s no such thing as being too prepared for changes in the market. It’s impossible to know how consumers will respond to your products until they start talking with their wallets, but market intelligence can give you good predictions—and maybe even the edge you need to be successful.