This article offers 5 Competitive Intelligence sources to identify market trends. You are an 800m runner, and you are coming to the final 250m. You are leading the race, but you know there are many competitors just behind you. But you don’t really know what they are going to do. Now you look back, turning your head to the left, and you see your competitors making plans.
See others struggling and others running flat out to keep up. Two hundred metres to go, and the finish line is in sight. You have to kick on for the final sprint. You look back, and you don’t see any of the other runners kicking for the finish.
While looking back, you feel a gush of wind. And your competitor, who has been running to your right-hand side, kicks for the finish. It takes a couple of seconds to realise what’s happening. You then kick and start sprinting. The trouble is that they are not only in front of you. They have begun their sprint before you, so they are up to speed. You react and try and catch up. They pull further away and cross the line first. You are annoyed because you have the best spikes, and you are better than them. You are quicker and have more stamina, but they end up with tea and medals.
Keeping up with your market trends is not easy. But while just focusing on running your business. Getting new customers and keeping your team happy, your market is changing. Sometimes slow change and occasionally rapid change. Sometimes looking back and then focusing on what you are doing is going bite you on the backside. You need to stay ahead on the curve and avoid those competitors breezing past. You need to move with the times with the benefit of Competitive Intelligence-based business planning.
What is Competitive Intelligence?
Competitive Intelligence is the collection, collation and analysis of information. To help you find out what’s happening. Explain why it’s happening and outline how things could develop. And offer possible options available to make better decisions. Competitive Intelligence helps you avoid surprises. Think more moves ahead, minimise uncertainty, differentiate and stay ahead of the competition. It’s an unspoken, hidden key to success.
Market Trend Analysis
And an essential aspect of Competitive Intelligence is Market Trend Analysis. Market Trend Analysis compares industry data over an agreed period. To identify consistent trends and results used to map your business strategy. To make sure your strategy is aligned with the direction of your industry. A key influence of Market Trends is consumer behaviour and habits.
The following types of industry trend analysis will help you determine moves you need to make:
Listen to your customers
Talk to your customers. They are the ones that spend money with you, so they must rate you in some way. Speak to them to understand where their pain is now and how they see their future. It will help you provide solutions to their pressure points. Perhaps conduct surveys with your current customers. And even extend the study to prospective customers. Always make sure the questions are designed to find their pain points. If you are in a new market or even in startup mode, survey target customers. These surveys will produce valuable insights into changes in their needs and behaviours.
Industry research and trends
To get a picture of what’s happening in your industry, look at the industry reports available. Look for organisations like Frost & Sullivan, Euromonitor and Mintel and the like. These reports can be old and will not tell you what’s happening now. But they give you a picture of your industry landscape. And maybe indicate the direction it’s heading. Access can be expensive, frustrating and disappointing because they usually offer industry-wide overviews. However, the best place to find this sort of information is in major libraries. Like the British Library in London. They claim to have access to data on 144 million companies and associated industries. Take a look at these databases for free and then decide which one’s (if any) will fit your organisation’s long term needs.
Keep track of what’s going on in your industry by reading industry-specific magazines. Look at the local press for relevant news stories. Find thought leadership articles written by your industry’s influencers. Follow them on social media. Interact with them and generate working relationships. Be part of the conversations. Be seen as an industry expert yourself.
Digital tools and analytics
There are analytical tools and systems around that offer tools to make life easier for you. So you can quickly see the bigger market-wide picture. Digital analytics helps you find the trends searched for by online consumers. Google Trends is a good example. It displays a long-term review of niche trends. Keyword planners allow you to find the popular keywords used by your target audience. Ubersuggest by Neil Patel is another excellent tool and will not break the bank to use it.
You should not follow the crowd. To be successful, you and not your competitors need to innovate and stand out from the noise. Taking a look at what your competitors are doing will give a great idea of their market positioning. To see if they have seen a market trend that you haven’t. Fundamental Competitor analysis is not expensive or time-consuming. Look at their websites, customer reviews, and social media activities. This will help you understand how you compare to competitors.
This article offered 5 Competitive Intelligence sources to identify market trends.