Marketing Intelligence

Marketing intelligence is everyday information about developments in the marketing environment that helps managers prepare and adjust marketing plans.

The marketing intelligence system determines the intelligence needed, collects it by searching the environment and delivers it to marketing managers who need it.

Marketing intelligence comes from many sources. Much intelligence is from the company's personnel - executives, engineers and scientists, purchasing agents and the sales force. But company people are often busy and fail to pass on important information. The company must 'sell' its people on their importance as intelligence gatherers, train them to spot new developments and urge them to report intelligence hack to the company.

The company must also persuade suppliers, resellers and customers to pass along important intelligence. Some information on competitors conies from what they say about themselves in annual reports, speeches, press releases and advertisements. The company can also learn about competitors from what others say about them in business publications and at trade shows. Or the company can watch what competitors do - buying and analyzing competitors' products, monitoring their sales and cheeking for new patents.

Companies also buy intelligence information from out.side suppliers. Dun & Bradstreet is the world's largest research company with branches in 40 countries and a turnover of SI.26 billion. Its largest subsidiary is Nielsen, which selis data on brand shares, retail prices and percentages of stores stocking different brands. Its InfoaAct Workstation offers companies the chance to analyze data from three sources on the PCs: Retail Index, which monitors consumer sales and in-store conditions; Key Account Scantrack, a weekly analysis of sales, price elasticity and promotional effectiveness; and Homesean, a new consumer panel. Alliances between marketing research companies allow access to pan-European research. Other big international research companies are WPP; Taylor Nelson, which owns AGB; GfK; MAI, which owns MOP; and Infratest. The globalization of markets has led both large and small firms to form alliances in order to gain better international coverage and wider services, Taylor Nelson's AGB has joined with Information Resources Inc. of the United States to strengthen their position as international suppliers of retail audit and scanner data." The services of these and other agencies now provide over 500 accessible computer databases:

Doing business in Germany? Check out CompuServe's German Company Library of financial and product information on over 48,000 German-owned firms. Want biographical sketches of key executives? Punch up Dun & Bradstreet Financial Profiles and Company Reports. Demographic data? Today's Associated Press news wire reports? A list of active trademarks? It's all available from on-line databases.9

Marketing intelligence can work not only for, but also against a company. Companies must sometimes take steps to protect themselves from the snooping of competitors. For example, Kellogg's had treated the public to tours of its plants since 1906, but recently dosed its newly upgraded plant to outsiders to prevent competitors from getting intelligence on its high-tech equipment. In Japan corporate intelligence is part of the industrial culture. Everyone from assembly-line workers to top executives considers it their duty to filter intelligence about the competition back to management. Western companies are less active, although most of America's Fortune 500 now have in-house corporate intelligence units. Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the need both to gather information and to protect what they have. In its Bangkok offices one European organization has a huge poster outside its lavatory saying: 'Wash and hush up! You never know who's listening! Keep our secrets secret.'1"

Some companies set up an office to collect and circulate marketing intelligence. The staff scan relevant publications, summarize important news and send news marketing research The junction that links the consumer, customer and public to the marketerthrough information -information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; to generate, refine and evaluate marketing actions; to monitor marketing performance; and to improve understanding of the marketing process.

bulletins to marketing managers. They develop a file of intelligence information and help managers evaluate new information. These services greatly improve the quality of information available to marketing managers. The methods used to gather competitive information range from the ridiculous to the illegal. Managers routinely shred documents because wastepaper baskets can be an information source. Other firms have uncovered more sinister devices such as Spycatcher's TFR recording system that 'automatically interrogates telephones and faxes. Also a range of tiny microphones.' These and other methods appear in Marketing Highlight 8.1."

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