Market intelligence is one of the best ways to support big, strategic business decisions, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has only made it more crucial. Why? Because Covid-19 has made the world much more unpredictable, leaving some of us second-guessing decisions that we would not have thought twice about 18-months ago. Yet many businesses are continuing to grow and thrive, and there is no reason for leaders to stop making plans. Market intelligence is not a crystal ball, but it does take away some of the guesswork and gives you the information you need to make decisions with more confidence.
Market intelligence uses market research, data analysis, and insights to investigate a business trend, idea or issue, and provide strategic recommendations. Because of the flexible and customisable nature of market intelligence projects, it can be applied to almost any situation.
Here are eight reasons market intelligence should be part of your business strategy in the transition out of lockdown and beyond.
1. Market intelligence helps you become proactive, not reactive.
By necessity, we’ve all had to be a little more reactive during the pandemic. But in the long term, a purely reactionary business strategy stifles innovation. By using market intelligence, you can gather data on clients, markets, and competitors, uncover opportunities to innovate, and proactively prepare for anything that comes your way.
A company is doing well and is regarded as a leader in its sector. They use market intelligence to look for gaps or niches for a new product launch or service, as well as trends that might threaten their success in future. This helps them to protect their position in the market and cement their role as innovators.
2. Priorities have changed.
Most parts of our daily lives have changed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and that doesn’t exclude businesses. Digital transformations, for example, were rapidly accelerated as homeworking became an overnight necessity and now business leaders began looking at how to recover from the subsequent impact on creativity and innovation. The priorities of employees have changed too, including how they choose an employer and what makes them satisfied in their role.
Market intelligence is a way to discover and evaluate what priorities have changed for your business and workforce, and what you should be focusing on.
A company wants to take a close look at some of its competitors to find out how they are innovating and continuing to thrive despite the pandemic, as well as examining its key talent pools to find out what is most attractive to candidates in a post-pandemic world.
3. Stakes are high.
There have already been several high-profile business casualties of the pandemic such as Topshop owner, Arcadia Group. Lockdowns and social restrictions have seen retail and hospitality hit hardest so far but other sectors should watch out for slower-acting trends that might prove equally fatal. After an unstable 2020, any company could find itself in choppy waters if they make a poor strategic decision while recovering from the impact of Covid-19.
Market intelligence provides additional data and knowledge that may serve to reduce the risk of making a serious mistake.
A company is deciding whether it should keep its physical office, or whether it might move to a fully remote set up, a different location or a flexible shared working space. A market intelligence project presents different options, real-life case studies, and a survey of how current employees prefer to work.
4. Market Intelligence might reveal new opportunities.
There have been plenty of negatives over the last year – for many of us if we never had to Zoom again it would be too soon. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t also opportunities. Entrepreneurial spirits have found niche ways to profit in lockdown – from kitchen bakeries to virtual escape rooms. It probably won’t be selling homemade cupcakes, but there will be opportunities for your business, perhaps launching a new digital platform or acquiring a business to boost your growth.
Market intelligence can identify potential opportunities and present the benefits and drawbacks of each.
A company has seen a particular technology being used in similar sectors, but they don’t think any of their direct competitors are using it yet. A market intelligence project provides details on where this technology is being used, similar technologies used by competitors, and a list of companies the client might look to acquire in order to use this technology themselves.
5. You don’t want to fall behind.
In times like these, it’s better to be at the forefront of change and innovation than to be scrambling to keep up. And following our last point, if you don’t take an opportunity, chances are one of your competitors will. Market intelligence is a way to put yourself a step ahead of others, whether that’s understanding your market better, keeping an eye on what competitors are doing, or attracting the best talent to your business.
If you feel you are falling behind in some way, market intelligence offers the chance to find out why and gain insights into how to innovate and get back in the race.
A company has noticed that they are repeatedly losing employees to the same handful of competitors. In order to understand why and try to better retain talent, a market intelligence project profiles each competitor on its messaging to potential candidates and recruitment touchpoints, as well as examining the motivations of their shared talent pool.
6. It’s better to get personal.
Like a nice suit, market intelligence is best when it’s tailored. There are plenty of research reports and published surveys talking about how the pandemic has changed the landscape but often these are too general to be of great use in strategic planning. Especially in niche sectors, run of the mill reports just don’t provide enough value – often more specialised sectors are not represented in statistics, or they are relegated to ‘other’. A report built upon data from accounting firms and retailers will hardly apply to a manufacturer of medical devices.
Bespoke, specially commissioned market intelligence projects can provide key insights that are specifically relevant to your business.
A healthcare consulting agency wants to understand specifically how to differentiate themselves within a niche therapy area. They only have a few direct competitors so there are no off-the-shelf reports that give them the data they need. A tailored market intelligence report focuses only on what is relevant to them – and offers specific, personalised recommendations.
7. Reputation is crucial.
Do you know what reputation your business has amongst clients? Employees? The wider talent market? During the transition out of lockdown their perception of a business – and therefore whether they are willing to purchase services or become an employee - will be 'make or break' in terms of survival. And there are a lot of reputation plates to keep spinning; Covid put a spotlight on how employees were treated by businesses, while social and political events have brought company values into the conversation too. The influence of Gen Z and Millennials is also putting more pressure than ever on businesses to be ethical and environmentally conscious. It’s no longer just about the bottom line and making profits for stakeholders – CEO Today even called it a ‘more enlightened form of capitalism'.
Market intelligence is a crucial tool in obtaining an objective assessment of your company’s reputation.
A company is unsure how clients and candidates perceive it. It is a medium-sized business and can’t really compare itself to specialist boutique agencies, or large multi-agency groups. In order to better define its brand identity – and therefore know how to differentiate itself from competitors – a market intelligence project runs a survey to ascertain what the company’s reputation really is and what clients and candidates want. This is then compared to the company’s current messaging, and how they are trying to define their brand. Finally, the project offers recommendations on how to proceed.
8. You don’t know what you don’t know.
Market intelligence isn’t just there to answer questions you already have, it can also unveil what questions you should be asking – including some you might not have even considered. A project might run in phases, with phase one taking a broad look at a theme that the client is struggling with – for example, attracting talent in the USA. From phase one, more specific issues are identified – e.g. their head office is on the west coast, but most of their talent pool is on the east coast - and phase two then takes a closer look at the identified problems and provides recommendations.
In this way, market intelligence acts as a litmus test on a broad topic, pinpointing exactly which questions need to be addressed.
A client thinks they are not visible enough in the market. A market intelligence project looks at how they can attract more clients and ends up uncovering that their visibility is fine, but the language and marketing they are using is not conveying the right message to the right clients.
In summary, tailored market intelligence is a fantastic asset to your business that can be applied to any strategic priorities – be that business growth, attracting talent, or staying ahead of competitors. The data and insights generated will help you to refine your plans, optimise your approach, differentiate your brand, and, ultimately, succeed.
If you would like to see more real examples which illustrate just how useful market intelligence can be, download our free infographic.
Carrot Executive work in partnership with a large number of Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences companies and consultancies, supporting with a range of executive search and bespoke insights projects to support clients in their strategic decision making in relation to talent attraction and retention, market penetration and competitor benchmarking.
For more information, please contact Martin Anderson via email@example.com, call +44 (0)1625 541 032 or use the 'schedule a call' link below: