Market intelligence

Sources of information such as personal contacts, feedback from trade and from the sales force, informal store checks and monitoring of competitors' products and publicity efforts can be extremely useful. A problem with market intelligence data lies in the procedures used for its collection. Most sales people would argue, often rightly, that additional paperwork reduces profitable selling time. At the same time, sales people are often keen to be the first to report some new marketplace development to the organization, particularly when they know that the organization will respond to that information.

This indicates two key points in the design of market intelligence systems. First, the reporting system should be as straightforward as possible and organized in such a way as to minimize the work involved in reporting. Second, the response mechanism to market intelligence must be good and known to the individuals making reports. The single most important incentive for members of the organization to participate in a market intelligence system is the feeling that it is of real value to the organization and does feed into its decision-making procedure.

Exactly what type of market intelligence may be of value will depend on the organization, but the most commonly collected areas are those already referred to. In the more rapidly developing industries it may be that the market intelligence system would be extended to include feedback from conferences and meetings at which new technology is discussed. Other avenues for feedback of useful snippets of intelligence gathered through personal contact may suggest themselves.

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