Today's topic is an interesting one, as it is discussed many times when waxing poetic with our clients about the difference between market research and competitive intelligence. Is there a clean break among the shades of gray? Isn’t it all intelligence?
Yes, both disciplines certainly gather intelligence about your brands and markets facilitating informed decision making. However, the area in which the two disciplines begin to divert between market research and CI is the lens used when assessing the data. The strategic decision maker has loads of data before them that has been collected, so which part is competitive intelligence? We like to define competitive intelligence in its simp
licity as the data that is external to your company/brand, while market research is internal to the brand. Competitive intelligence is more of what would be "a sentinel" in military terms. Consider the ancient Roman armies. A sentinel was sent out to scout the opposing army, assess their capabilities, terrain and topography separating them from the enemy, and supply the escape routes among a myriad of other things.
Market research would be the work developed into building the information categorized as internal to the brand. This is research efforts which builds the brand and is communicated outward to the market and customers, such as messages, advertisements, patient programs, etc.
Competitive intelligence is not just knowing your competitor, but also the market and factors in which your brand will compete. What factors impact uptake of a product in the treatment algorithm? Are there disruptive changes emerging that are ushered in by technology, diagnostics or reform? Where is the market evolving tomorrow and why? What attributes will drive customer preference and uptake in the future? What competitors are positioned to meet this shift?
In closing, I will leave with a quote attributed to Prussian Field Marshal, Helmuth von Moltke, who once said, "no plan survives contact with the enemy".