Competitive Intelligence: Definition, Sources & Process

Max 5min read

In the fast-paced business arena, where strategies clash and markets evolve, a hidden force exists that whispers secrets, uncovers mysteries, and empowers organizations to wield an unparalleled edge over their rivals. 

Welcome to competitive intelligence, a captivating realm where information becomes ammunition and knowledge becomes power.

In this world, information is a precious currency. The ability to foresee market shifts, outmaneuver competitors, and uncover the hidden gems that elude others can be the difference between prosperity and defeat. Competitive intelligence is important to unveil the battlefield, equip decision-makers with insights, and empower them to make informed choices confidently.

But competitive intelligence is more than a mere tool—it is an ethos. It embraces the spirit of curiosity, urging organizations to explore, question, and learn from the dynamic ecosystem around them. It nurtures a culture of vigilance and adaptability, where businesses remain vigilant guardians of their domain, ever watchful for new opportunities and threats on the horizon.

Join this journey and learn about steps to gather competitive intelligence, sources from where you can get them, and competitive intelligence best practices!

What Is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive intelligence definition:

Competitive intelligence or CI is the systematic process of gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information about competitors and the competitive environment to gain insights and make informed business decisions. It involves monitoring competitors’ activities, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and identifying potential opportunities and threats to improve strategic planning and gain a competitive edge.

Key Sources for Gathering Competitive Intelligence

Here are seven sources of competitive intelligence gathering that will provide valuable insights into your business.

Competitor Websites and Marketing Materials

Regularly monitor your competitors’ websites and marketing materials to track any changes in messaging, positioning, pricing, and packaging. This can help you understand how they position their products or services in the market and identify any shifts in their strategy.

Market Research Reports

Access market research reports on your industry or specific product/service categories. These reports often provide comprehensive analysis and insights into market trends, competitor strategies, pricing dynamics, and consumer preferences.

Social Media Monitoring

Monitor your competitors’ social media channels to gather information on their messaging, promotions, campaigns, and customer interactions. Social media platforms can provide real-time insights into marketing activities and customer sentiment.

Monitoring Marketing Tests

Monitoring landing pages and A/B tests helps you to get an inner view of what your competitors are doing and planning. This way, you understand what is working and what isn’t and see what you need to implement. 

Reviewing the Product

Analyzing third-party product reviews will help you understand what customers like and dislike. This is where you can find the treasure, your competitor’s strengths, and gaps. This gives you a competitive advantage. 

Easy Steps for Gathering Competitive Intelligence

Gathering competitive intelligence involves systematically collecting and analyzing information about your direct and indirect competitors. This is how the competitive intelligence process will look like: 

  1. Identify your direct and indirect competitors: List companies which offer similar products or services in your industry. Direct competitors are those that provide similar offerings, while indirect competitors are those that fulfill similar customer needs but in a different way.
  2. Choose the focus area of data collection: Determine the specific information areas most relevant to your business and competitive landscape. This could include aspects such as pricing, product features, marketing strategies, customer reviews, or market share.
  3. Gather necessary information: Collect data about your competitors’ products, services, and marketing efforts. Monitor their websites, social media channels, blog posts, press releases, and publicly available content. Explore industry reports, customer feedback, and reviews to gain insights into their strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Conduct competitor analysis: Analyze the gathered information to assess your competitors’ strategies and performance. Look for patterns, trends, and key differentiators. Evaluate their market positioning, target audience, pricing models, distribution channels, and marketing tactics. Identify areas where they succeed and areas where they are vulnerable.
  5. Share findings with stakeholders: Present your findings to relevant stakeholders, such as executives, marketing teams, product managers, and sales representatives. Communicate the key insights and recommendations derived from the competitive analysis.
  6. Make data accessible for all team members: Ensure that the gathered competitive intelligence is easily accessible to all team members who can benefit from it. Consider using

collaborative tools or creating a central repository to store, update, and share the information. This allows everyone to stay informed and make data-driven decisions.

Remember, competitive intelligence is an ongoing process. Continuously monitor and update your knowledge of the competitive landscape to stay ahead in your industry and adapt your strategies accordingly.

Competitive Intelligence in Action

let’s look at a competitive intelligence example in action to understand this concept better.  Coca-Cola is monitoring PepsiCo’s pricing strategy in the global soft drink market. 

Coca-Cola gathers competitive intelligence by:

  • Monitoring PepsiCo’s product prices online
  • Conducting in-store visits, analyzing market research reports
  • Tracking pricing changes through data analytics tools
  • Engaging in competitive benchmarking
  • Monitoring social media channels and customer reviews

This helps Coca-Cola make informed decisions about its pricing strategy, remain competitive, and develop targeted promotions.

Best Practices for Competitive Intelligence

Establish Competitive Intelligence Habits: To ensure continuous monitoring and analysis, it’s essential to develop regular habits and processes for collecting and updating competitive information. This can involve setting up automated alerts, subscribing to industry newsletters, following competitor social media accounts, attending conferences, and maintaining a network of industry contacts.

Provide Relevant Insights: CI professionals should focus on delivering actionable and relevant insights to decision-makers within their organizations. This includes summarizing key findings, highlighting competitive advantages or vulnerabilities, and providing strategic recommendations based on the analysis. You need to tailor this information to the specific needs of different departments or teams.

Analyze Losses and Wins: It’s crucial to analyze your losses and wins and those of your competitors. By understanding the reasons behind successes and failures, you can identify areas for improvement or potential opportunities.

Ensure Ethical Practices: While gathering competitive intelligence, operating within legal and ethical boundaries is essential. Avoid activities such as industrial espionage, hacking, or using deceptive methods to obtain information. Instead, focus on leveraging publicly available sources, conducting interviews, attending industry events, and engaging in legitimate competitive analysis.


What are competitive intelligence tools?

Competitive intelligence tools like SEMrush are software applications or platforms that help businesses gather, analyze, and interpret data about their competitors and market trends. These tools collect information from various sources, such as websites, social media, news articles, and public databases, to provide insights into competitor strategies, products, pricing, marketing campaigns, and customer behavior. 

Using competitive intelligence tools, businesses can make more informed decisions, identify opportunities, and stay ahead in the market.

What are the goals of competitive intelligence?

The goals of competitive intelligence are to gather, analyze, and interpret information about competitors, market trends, and industry developments to gain strategic insights, identify competitive advantages, anticipate market changes, and make informed business decisions.

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