Over the past few weeks, we shared a mini series on LinkedIn: Market Intelligence Mondays! Each week in May, CTRS Founder and resident MI expert Aaron Cruikshank, unpacked valuable knowledge around better understanding market intelligence.

For those who might have missed any episodes, or for those who want a refresher, this is for you. In this blog post, we’ve recapped all the key takeaways from each week. Plus, if you prefer visuals or want to rewatch your favourite clip, we’ve included links to all the episodes on LinkedIn. 

Introduction to Market Intelligence 

We get people all the time asking us what market intelligence is. The way I like to put it is this: market intelligence is data gathered outside your organization to give you the insights you need to make informed decisions. It comes from the market in which your organization operates. 

Market intel is one of three intelligence sources that every business needs to use. 

You’ve got your business intelligence, which is the first one, looking at data gathered by your organization. So these are things like sales numbers, operations metrics, financial performance, those kinds of things. 

Secondly, you got market research, which examines what your customers think, what they feel, and their behavior. Are they happy with the product or service? What features would they like to see to deepen the relationship with you? Those kinds of things. 

But the third, and my favorite, is market intel. This involves studying market forces and how they impact your organization.

Many organizations use business intelligence and market research to help make important decisions. And it’s good to have those two things, but what can be missing is context. If you don’t do market intelligence research, you might not understand why consumer behavior is moving in one direction or another, when very little has changed with your product or service. 

What’s happening in their world that affects the relationship with your organization, but that you don’t have any control over? That’s critical information that can make or break your strategic plans. 

So business intelligence and market research are largely backwards looking and you need data that looks to the future as well. That’s where market intelligence comes in. 

So that combination of business intelligence, market research and market intelligence gives you the whole picture. So once you have the whole picture, this data leads to your strategic decision making process and de-risks the whole thing.

Watch LinkedIn Video Here: Episode 1

Market Intelligence vs. Market Research

Most people, when they hear the term market research, think of surveys and focus groups. But when people hear market intelligence, they either think, huh? Or, did you mean market research? They’re actually completely different disciplines and can support each other, but are not the same thing. 

So let’s start with what these two disciplines have in common. They both use data and objective analysis. They both focus on the market and they both use multidisciplinary tool sets. 

Here’s where they’re different. Market research tends to focus on consumer behavior. It uses primary research, surveys, focus groups – things that you’re probably familiar with. It generally looks at what is happening and what has happened with regards to your business. 

Market intelligence, on the other hand, tends to focus on big picture social and economic trends that influence people’s behavior. It uses secondary research as the main source of data, like what an economist or a reporter would use to uncover context. This can include competitive intelligence and benchmarking data. But what it tries to do is forecast what will happen in the future. 

Both are very useful and can be used in combination with one another. In fact, at CTRS, some of our best partners are market research firms. They go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Watch LinkedIn Video Here: Episode 2

The Benefits 

There are so many benefits for organizations of all sizes, but I think the biggest benefit is having the intel you need to make important strategic decisions. There’s always some risk in making big decisions. If you have the right intel, you can help de -risk the decision-making process for your organization. 

Competitive intelligence is also a significant benefit you get from market intelligence. Your competitors often are telegraphing their moves to a certain extent if you know what to look for, and we do. 

You can also discover blue ocean or underserved markets that you can serve. Ways to expand, ways to grow. And there are often growth opportunities within your own core market that market intelligence might reveal. Things you might not have considered because you don’t have enough information. 

Those are just some of the benefits. But our customers find that they understand their markets better and can help them make big strategic decisions when they have good market intel.

Watch LinkedIn Video Here: Episode 3

Why MI Is An Important Part Of Business Strategy

We often discuss how market intelligence is a key component of strategic planning. But why is that? Usually, when we’re trying to make a big strategic decision, there are equally big risks if we make the wrong decision. So we want to reduce risk in these big decision-making processes. How do we do that? With better data and intel. 

Most organizations will look to business intelligence data and market research to reduce the risk in decision-making. This is a good instinct and organizations should definitely do this. But without forward looking market intelligence, organizations are not getting all of the information they need to make a truly informed decision. They could be missing at least half of the intel that they could have. So, successful strategic planning also looks to the future and tries to forecast the future. Market intelligence helps extend that forecast and helps develop strategic plans that can look five to 10 years out rather than only one or two.

This is why companies in the EU and Asia are often better at strategic planning than North American companies because they’ve embraced market intelligence and rely on that forecasting to make strategic, important decisions.

Watch LinkedIn Video Here: Episode 4

That’s A Wrap!

There you have it folks. Be sure to keep a close eye on our LinkedIn, because the series will continue throughout June. Episode 5 drops next week!