The internal records system supplies results data, but the marketing intelligence system supplies happening data. A marketing intelligence system is a set of procedures and sources which managers use to obtain everyday information about developments in the marketing environment. Marketing managers collect marketing intelligence by reading books, newspapers, and trade publications; talking to customers, suppliers, and distributors and meeting with other company managers.
A company can take several steps to improve the quality of its marketing intelligence.
A company can train and motivate the sales force to spot and report new developments.
Sales representatives are positioned to pick up information missed by other means, yet they often fail to pass on that information.
The company must “sell�? its sales force on their importance as intelligence gatherers. Sales reps should know which types of information to send to which managers. Grace Performance Chemicals, a division of WR Grace, supplies materials and chemicals to the construction and packaging industries. Grace sales reps were instructed to observe the innovation ways customers used its products to suggest possible new products. For example, some customers were using Grace waterproofing materials to sound proof their cars and patch boots and tents. Seven new-product ideas emerged in total, worth millions in sales to the company.
A company can motivate distributors, retailers, and other intermediaries to pass along important intelligence.
Many companies hire specialists to gather marketing intelligence. Service providers often send mystery shoppers to their stores to assess how employees treat customers. Mystery shoppers for McDonald’s discovered that only 46 % of its restaurants nationwide met internal speed-of-service standards, forcing the company to rethink processes and training. Retailers also use mystery shoppers; Neiman Marcus employs a professional shopper agency to shop at its stores nationwide. It finds stores that consistently score high on the service have the best sales. Typical questions their mystery shoppers report are: How long before a sales associate greeted you? Did the sales associate act as if he or she wanted your business? Was the sales associate knowledgeable about products in stocks?
A company can network externally
It can purchase competitors’ products; attend open houses and trade shows; read competitors’ published reports; attend stockholders’ meetings; talk to employees, dealers, distributors, suppliers, and freight agents; collect competitors’ ads; and look up new stories about competitors. Software developer Cognos created an internal Web site called Street Fighter where any of the firm’s 3000 workers can submit scoops about competitors and win prizes.
Competitive intelligence must be done legally, ethically, though. Procter& Gamble reportedly paid a multimillion-dollar settlement to Unilever when some external operatives hired as part of a P&G corporate intelligence programs to learn about Unilever’s hair care products were found to have engaged in such unethical behavior as “dumpster diving.�?
A company can set up a customer advisory panel.
Members might include representative customers or the company’s largest customers or it’s most outspoken or sophisticated customers. Many business schools have advisory panels made up of alumni and recruiters who provide valuable feedback on the curriculum.
A company can take advantage of government data resources
The 2000 US census provides an in-depth look at the population swings, demographic groups, regional migrations, and changing family structure of 281,421,906 people. Census marketer Claritas cross-reference census figures with consumer surveys and its own grassroots research for clients such as Procter & Gamble, Dow Jones, and Ford Motor. Partnering with “list houses�? that provide customer phone and address information, Claritas can help firms select and purchase mailing lists with specific clusters.
A company can purchase information from outside suppliers
Well-known data suppliers include the AC Nielsen Company and Information Resources, Inc. These research firms gather consumer-panel data at a much lower cost than the company could manage on its own. Biz360 has specialized databases to provide reports from 7,000 sources on the extent and nature of media coverage a company is receiving.
A company can use online customer feedback systems to collect competitive intelligence
Online customer feedback facilitates collection and dissemination of information on a global scale, usually, at low cost. Through online customer review boards or forums, one customer’s evaluation of a product or a supplier can be distributed to a large number of other potential buyers and, of course, to marketers seeking information on the competition. Currently existing channels for feedback include message boards, threaded discussions forums that allows users to post new and follow up existing posts; discussion forums, which are more like bulletin boards; opinion forums, which features more in-depth, lengthy reviews: and chat rooms. While chat rooms have the advantage of allowing users to share experiences and impressions, their unstructured nature makes it difficult for marketers to find relevant messages. To address these issues, various companies have adopted structured systems, such as customer discussion boards or customer reviews..
Some companies circulate marketing intelligence. The staff scans the Internet and major publications, abstracts relevant news, and disseminates a news bulletin to marketing managers. It collects and files relevant information and assists managers in evaluating new information.
In India the market intelligence is collected from the same sources like retailers, dealers, customers etc., There are not many professional companies in India like U.S for gathering market intelligence but a few companies are able to give market reports in the form of surveys. Some marketing consultants are also able to provide market intelligence information in addition to market research companies. Super markets which are fast coming up in Indian metros and cities are also good sources of information for the marketing managers.