What It Is & How To Use It

Market intelligence is a surefire way to help determine the how and who for targeting your marketing efforts.

But how do you obtain such crucial information about your target market in the first place?

This comprehensive guide will teach you what market intelligence is, how to collect it, and how to use it.

What Is Market Intelligence

Market intelligence is the actual data or information that relates to your business’s overall market.

Market intelligence encompasses more than just who your target audience might be.

The goal of collecting market intelligence is to help drive data-driven decisions about your company – and not just your marketing efforts.

There are different types of market intelligence. These data points can include the following:

  • Industry-level trends.
  • Competitor analysis.
  • Consumer insights.
  • Product sales.

Market Intelligence Vs. Business Intelligence

It’s important not to confuse market intelligence vs. business intelligence.

Both areas of knowledge are vital for a company’s success, and they each have their own use cases.

Business intelligence, by definition, refers to data specific to a company and its performance.

Let’s break down the key differences:

Image created by author, December 2022market intelligence vs business intelligence

The major difference is how they gather data.

Since market intelligence focuses on external factors, these data sources may include:

  • Customer surveys.
  • Economic and consumer pricing data.
  • Demographic and geographic analysis.
  • Consumer behavior reports.
  • User testing.
  • 3rd party tools.

On the other hand, business intelligence strictly looks inward. When gathering internal intelligence, these data sources may include:

The key differences above should make it easier to help determine what type of intelligence data your company may need at any given time.

How To Use Market Intelligence

Whether you’re a brand-new company or a well-established business, there are many ways to use market intelligence to your advantage.

To understand how to use market intelligence, you must first identify your goals. What are you trying to achieve by gathering market intelligence?

The most effective way to use market intelligence is to let that data answer key business questions:

  • Do our company goals align with the current market?
  • What market(s) are a good fit for our brand? Should we consider expanding or focusing on a niche?
  • Does our business need to shift resources to meet our goals?
  • How do customers go about purchasing our product?
  • How do customers become aware of our product (or our competitors)?
  • What does our ideal target customer look like? What behaviors and characteristics do they have?
  • What are competitors doing that we’re not?

Market intelligence essentially analyzes the external environment (or market) that a brand is a part of.

Market intelligence analysis can be further broken down into different categories.

Competitor Trends

Another part of using market intelligence is conducting competitor analysis. The goal of reviewing competitors helps your brand identify:

  • What their strengths and weaknesses are compared to your brand’s?
  • Key product differentiators or similarities.

Identifying the above can help better position your product or service in the market.

Consumer Behavior Trends

The biggest opportunity to use market intelligence is digging into consumer behavior around your product or service.

Use this data to understand what their pain points or challenges are, as well as why they choose to buy from you in the first place.

This type of intelligence can help optimize retention and engagement for existing customers, as well as acquire new customers.

Market intelligence around consumer behavior also helps frame your ideal customer and their key characteristics. This can include:

  • Browsing and purchasing behavior.
  • Interests.
  • Where they spend their time.
  • How they spend their money.
  • Household status or household income range.

Understanding these key factors can help shape your marketing and awareness efforts.

External Market Factors

Analyzing the market that your brand is currently in or where you may want to expand is another way to use market intelligence.

Using this type of data can identify how your product or service performs in its current market. It can also be used to identify the pros and cons of expanding into new markets and what opportunities or risk factors are associated with it.

Some of these external market factors can overlap with competitor and consumer behavior trends. Putting it all together into a market analysis will help frame the bigger picture for your company as a whole.

How To Collect Market Intelligence

Gathering market intelligence should not come from one source. Numerous credible and trustworthy sources should help shape the story around your target market.

There’s also not a “one size fits all” in collecting market intelligence. The first step is to set a goal on what you want to accomplish with this research.

Now that you’ve set a goal, the second step is to define what metrics are important to your brand. Some examples of key metrics could be:

  • Total addressable market share (TAM): How many potential customers are in the market for this product or service? What is the expected growth rate of the market?
  • Pricing indicators: How does our price point compare to the market as a whole?
  • Competitor data: How many competitors are in this market? What market share do they cover compared to us?

Finally, it’s time to start collecting market intelligence. Below are a few ways you can start collecting the data and research:

  • Your own customers. This could be something as simple as sending surveys to current customers. Ask them key questions about their purchase journey, their pain points, and what they love about your product.
  • Analytics databases. Consider your own first-party analytics data to analyze customer trends, as well as third-party marketing and analytics platforms that have competitor data. Marrying the two sources can help identify many key differentiators.
  • Online research. This can involve reviewing or purchasing specific business journals or reports related to your market. While this research may cost money, it usually pays for itself in the long run by taking the insights to help shape your brand strategy.
  • Market experts. These experts typically work 1-on-1 with companies for a fee. As experts in the market, they work with others in the industry to guide product trends.

While this is not an exhaustive list, these areas should be able to provide a kick-start to your market intelligence journey.

Once the data has been collected, the analysis portion comes next. Use the tips above on how to use market intelligence to your advantage.


Market intelligence is a great way to identify the current position of your product or service in relation to the current market.

Because markets are everchanging, conducting market intelligence should be an ongoing effort for your brand. Gathering data around your market should not be considered a one-and-done project.

By creating a proactive approach to market data, you’ll be steps ahead of your competitors and have a better understanding of where to spend your time, money, and resources across all departments.

More resources:

Featured Image: mrmohock/Shutterstock

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