The marketing research process involves a methodical approach in research requirements within a given institution, and comprises of distinct phases for the realization of specific market investigations. The process is largely used by organizations to gather intellectual information for effectual business decisions. It is principally used to gather quantitative data and comprises of six separate phases (Wright, & Margaret, 2000). The initial phase involves issue identification and description, by defining the given problem. The second phase entails development of a specific approach through aspects such as the investigation’s rationale, objectives/solutions to be attained, hypothesis, and methodologies amongst others.
This is followed by the identification of a research design, which defines methods to be utilized for information gathering; this is the third phase. The fourth stage is an active one involving actual data gathering. Data acquired in this phase is primary in nature and therefore involves practices such as interviews as well as handling of questionnaires (Wright, & Margaret, 2000). The fifth phase involves information analysis through statistical tools like generation of graphs, other visual presentations, rations and percentages amongst others to aid with data interpretation. The sixth stage is report generation where the whole procedure is documented in writing. The report is then used in a presentation to relay the realized outcomes as a basis for prudent decision making with regard to future needs.
Competitive intelligence as the name suggests bears a level of congruence to the market investigation process but is only directed to information regarding business rivals in areas such as customer base and items produced. The process primarily centers on aspects of the external business setting, and information acquired from the process is employed for strategic decisions within the institution. A good competitive intelligence procedure performs investigations on uncertainties and trading opportunities through tools such as SWOT analysis and Porters model (Fleisher, & Babette, 2007). Through such information, a business is able to formulate an effectual policy against other rivals for enhanced continuity.
In competitive intelligence, an institution must identify the consumer needs within the industry that other rivals are competing to deliver, whether the product offered by the company is homogenous or dissimilar to products offered by rival companies, and the strengths and limitations of the products in comparison to rival institutions. Additionally, it is also important to evaluate the company’s prices against the competitors’ levels and attain a specific rank of the company in terms of market positioning. With this information, the management team is able to create a pragmatic and efficient tactic against the rivals. Although marketing research and competitive intelligence are different practices, they can be conducted simultaneously for a comprehensive form of industry analysis (Fleisher, & Babette, 2007).
This can be achieved by fitting competitive analysis in the third phase of the marketing research process concerned with design formulation. Recall that this phase involves the definition of data gathering approaches. Therefore, as marketing research requires primary data, competitive intelligence majorly gathers data from secondary resources like financial statements, balance sheets, procured sales and yearly corporate reports amongst others (Fleisher, & Babette, 2007). Subsequent phases within the research process would also be very applicable in competitive intelligence in terms of analysis and reporting towards superior decisions within the organization. Various ethical issues have been forwarded with regard to competitive intelligence and all of them are associated with unethical data gathering techniques. The first is termed as misrepresentation where a given company resorts to masquerading practices by creating fake identities like prospective investors, private research institutions and/or employment interviewers.
The second approach aims at manipulating employees from a given company to release strategic information that is regarded as classified (Murphy, 2005). This is achieved through unethical approaches such as offering bribes for the required information. Thirdly, a company may resort to secret surveillances on the target company. For instance, a person may infiltrate a given institution and set audio and visual equipment in tactical areas so that dialogues and decisions from the victimized company are accessible to the rogue organization without their knowledge. Some other companies tend to monitor documents that, upon their disposal, are collected from dumpsters and analyzed until the required information is attained. Lastly, an institution may resort to practices such as stealing to acquire the needed information (Murphy, 2005). Despite the technique employed, classified data from rival companies is still acquired but through unethical approaches and used to frustrate the victimized organization’s efforts in terms of marketing practices.
With BevCo offering a new product, I would employ competitive intelligence in assessing competitors’ strengths in terms of substitution power, pricing advantages, market positioning upon product introduction, and the opportunities that the product bears against the other industry players (Fleisher, & Babette, 2007). Following information acquisition, I would use it to strengthen the product through a strategic approach that would first ensure that the product offers superior services in contrast to other similar items within the market for enhanced sales. Secondly, I would ensure that the product is delivered to regions where competition is minimal in terms of market coverage to enhance the survival and maturity capability as only manageable competition is created by the rivals. Thirdly, I would utilize the acquired information in creating competitive advantage over the other products for enhanced sales and profits, leading to larger market acquisition.
Fleisher, C. S., & Babette, E. B. (2007). Business and competitive analysis: effective application of new and classic methods. Naples, FL: FT Press.
Murphy, C. (2005). Competitive intelligence: gathering, analysing and putting it to work. Farnham, UK: Gower Publishing, Ltd.
Wright, L. T., & Margaret, C. (2000). The marketing research process. Carrollton, TX: Financial Times Prentice Hall.