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Competitive analysts gather information on competitors and their products. They help their companies make better decisions through competitive intelligence, according to the industry association Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals. According to the training consultancy Pragmatic Marketing, companies use competitive analysis to improve sales and marketing performance, develop products and counter potential threats to their business.
Competitive analysis has traditionally formed part of the role of market research analysts, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, it is becoming a profession in its own right, with certification programs available from organizations such as Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals. This organization defines competitive intelligence as “the legal and ethical collection and analysis of information about the capabilities, vulnerabilities, and intentions of business competitors.”
Analysts identify and monitor sources of information on competitors. They monitor competitors’ websites for information on products, pricing and company capability. By subscribing to independent industry research or reviewing published research reports, analysts can obtain information on competitors’ market share, sales and strategies. Monitoring social networks and product review sites provides information on customers’ attitudes towards competitors and their products. Tracking advertising or news of product launches in industry publications provides analysts with information on competitors’ marketing activities.
Competitive analysts provide valuable competitive information for the sales force, according to Pragmatic Marketing. By providing information on competitors’ product features and performance, financial stability, management team, customer base and consumers’ attitudes, analysts can help the sales team to counter competitive claims or promote their own company more effectively during sales presentations. Monitoring competitors’ advertising and marketing campaigns can also alert the sales force to competitive actions that might threaten their business. This early warning system can help to prevent account losses.
Pragmatic Marketing notes that competitive intelligence provides important input for product development programs. By analyzing the features of competitors’ products, analysts can compare the performance and market appeal of their company’s product range and recommend areas for improvement. Highlighting features that achieve high ratings on product review sites or social networks helps analysts identify priorities for product development.
Competitive analysts collect information from their sources and create databases. They produce reports for sales, marketing and product development teams from the database. They may work with the information technology team to link the database to a corporate network so that authorized users can access the data to obtain information or create their own reports.
Based in the United Kingdom, Ian Linton has been a professional writer since 1990. His articles on marketing, technology and distance running have appeared in magazines such as “Marketing” and “Runner's World.” Linton has also authored more than 20 published books and is a copywriter for global companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and economics from Bristol University.