What does “market intelligence” mean in today’s world, and how has it evolved?
What Is Market Intelligence?
At its most basic, the term “market intelligence” refers to any and all information about your market, competitors, consumers, and opportunities that helps you understand your target market’s needs so you can develop a sound business strategy. In years past, this information was gathered manually from disparate data sources including sales and customer data, focus groups and surveys, and social media metrics. Sometimes confused with market research, market intelligence has traditionally been time-consuming to collect and rarely complete.
Traditional market intelligence and its categories broken down
Traditional market intelligence is often broken down into four categories:
- Competitor intelligence, which includes information about competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, and market movements. This data can help you understand your own strengths and weaknesses as well as consumer sentiments about your brand and others. Ten years ago, your competitor intelligence would be gathered from SWOT analyses, annual reports, networking, customer surveys, highly paid consultants, and your own employees (provided you incentivized them to research and share any information they found).
- Product intelligence involves analyzing your own products and services for efficiency, relevance, and consumer and market sentiment. Internal sales and performance data, focus groups, and surveys were the main conduit for this information in years past.
- Market understanding, which includes examining the markets in which you sell your product as well as the prospective markets you have yet to enter. Gauging the performance (or performance potential) of both types of markets can help you determine if there are missed opportunities. Research reports and consultants used to be the main resource for market understanding, and estimates, errors, and missteps were common due to the constantly changing nature of markets.
- Customer understanding involves documenting who your customers are, what their buying cycle and journey look like, why they purchase from you, and their satisfaction levels and complaints. Many organizations once relied on data sources like focus groups, customer feedback, loyalty programs, and internal digital analytics to evaluate their customers.
What makes modern market intelligence different?
Compared to the traditional methods of market intelligence, modern market intelligence techniques are more comprehensive, gleaning insights from thousands of data sources (both internal and external). Huge amounts of collected data are connected and put in context using AI, creating a 360-degree view of the marketplace without any barriers between competitive, product, market, and customer intelligence.
The most crucial difference between traditional market intelligence and modern market intelligence is this: modern market intelligence provides enough context to explain the “why” behind the data, which is essential to making good decisions.
Skai’s modern market intelligence solution
Skai collects data from more than 13,000 data sources covering social discussions, blog & forum posts, influencer posts, product listings, product reviews, POS data, patent filings, research papers, and more. The depth and breadth of this data allows us to add three more predictive categories for a complete market intelligence understanding:
- Trend intelligence. Identify and quantify the new trends gaining momentum in your market that will peak in three to five years. Explore the reasons why those trends are on the rise, the brands that are already aligned with the trends, and the opportunities for your own brand to take advantage.
- Brand intelligence. Consumer sentiment is always changing; with our data, you can monitor changes in sentiment towards your own brand and your competitors’ brands, in real time. Use this data to inform your brand purpose, messaging, and marketing strategies and detect emerging situations that may threaten your brand equity.
- Marketing intelligence. Determine the optimal media mix, most effective messaging, and the impact of your competition on your own marketing performance. Use this data to optimize marketing campaign spend.
Modern market intelligence also provides richer insights related to the four classic market intelligence categories. Competitor intelligence is more complete with granular insights into competitor activities like product launches, voice share, and innovations. With data contextualized down to the attribute level (i.e., flavor, benefit, texture, and packaging) on product reviews and claims, product intelligence now includes enough detail for you to understand why consumers feel the way they do about your and your competitors’ products.
An improved, more comprehensive market understanding includes the ability to zoom in on the details of your market that interest you as well as track trends that may cascade from another market into your own. Real-time tracking of consumer sentiment in social posts, product reviews, and more from all consumers, including your own, your competitors’, and prospective customers, yields the most complete customer understanding possible.
With more data covering more angles, modern market intelligence explains the why behind the data, resulting in faster time to actionable insights, improved alignment with your consumer and market, and better, more informed decision-making. Skai’s platform includes tools like Ask MI that democratize data across the organization so that everyone can use it for improved outcomes.
Case studies: modern market intelligence in the real world
Learn more about how modern market intelligence is helping businesses grow and adapt.
Predicting future olive oil sales
In 2016, one of Skai’s clients sought olive oil sales predictions to support product development decisions. Their traditional product intelligence included point-of-sale data, which indicated a decline in future olive oil sales. If this brand was still relying on traditional market intelligence, this single data point of backward-looking data would have led to a decrease in olive oil production.
Instead, they relied on Skai’s combined multiple data sources, including social media conversations, online forum discussions, product information, product reviews, key opinion leaders’ posts, product descriptions, and more. This data indicated that while olive oil sales had declined recently, they were poised for significant gains in the near-term. Why? Because key opinion leaders had recently increased their positive coverage of olive oil, a leading indicator for an improvement in consumer sentiment and subsequent rise in sales. The client ran with this full-circle market intelligence and was able to take full advantage of the increased sales that eventually arrived just as predicted.
Aligning product innovation with consumer needs
Reckitt, a global health and hygiene company, spent two years building its own consumer insights platform. They quickly realized that the tool provided insights into which products and ingredients were selling, but not why. Their backward-looking data also couldn’t explain which consumer trends were building momentum now. Skai was able to augment their solution with additional data that painted a fuller picture.
With Skai’s data, Reckitt assessed the market opportunity for a new gummy product with a trendy ingredient. Sales of a competitive gummy using this ingredient were declining, according to their internal tool, but it wasn’t clear why. Skai’s data provided the answer: negative consumer sentiment around taste and digestibility. And they noted another important indicator in Skai’s market intelligence: soaring positive sentiment regarding the ingredient’s immune health benefits.
With full-circle market intelligence, Reckitt was confident that their gummy concept would be a success as long as product claims and marketing messaging focused on immune health, the specific concept that appealed to consumers. In this case, understanding why a certain ingredient was appealing was key to their success. It would have been all too easy to make the same mistakes as their competition in creating a gummy that didn’t meet customer expectations. Read more about this case study.
Identifying the “why” behind trends in the pet food market
A leading pet food company asked Skai to analyze a rising trend: plant-based pet food proteins. Our analysis revealed that “ingredient-central” products – those with few additional ingredients beyond the primary plant-based protein – were predicted to have higher sales and more positive consumer sentiment than multi-ingredient formulations. The reason why? The plant-based proteins that could stand alone were perceived by consumers as higher quality than other proteins that couldn’t.
This exercise identified not only the plant-based proteins that were on the rise but also the specific product makeup that would best appeal to the target consumer. The explanation of why a plant-based protein was popular – because it was complete on its own – was key to developing a new product that would succeed.
Without this modern product intelligence, the pet food brand could have possibly recognized an emerging protein with strong potential, but if they didn’t formulate their new product with that protein as the primary ingredient, they wouldn’t have been as successful. Modern market intelligence’s deep, contextualized data made it possible for the brand to develop a new plant-based protein product with confidence in its long-term potential. Read the case study and learn how Skai helped slash their time-to-market.
Impacts of modern market intelligence
Modern market intelligence’s combined, rich data sets provide transformative insights that can answer crucial questions like:
1. What will be the next big trends in my market in three to five years? By identifying emerging trends at the attribute level, you can forecast future sales values to decide which trends are worth pursuing.
2. Where are customer needs not being met? Plotting consumer discussions and sentiment against existing product claims reveals opportunities in product messaging and development.
3. What brands should we acquire next? Tracking brands associated with emerging trends and predicting their growth is a non-biased way to identify potential partners or M&A targets.
4. Is my marketing messaging effective? Analyzing consumer needs and buying behaviors helps you optimize marketing messaging and placement.
5. What brand claims do consumers care about? Examining consumer sentiment and brand perception over time in relation to your competitors makes it possible to better align your brand initiatives with consumer needs.
6. What competitive threats are on the horizon? Granular insights into competitor activity – like product launches and patent applications – forecast upcoming challenges for your own brand.
In our fast-paced world, modern market intelligence is quickly becoming the new norm. Those who don’t get on board will be left behind.
Contact us to see how Skai can help your brand uncover deeper market insights that drive greater results!