Competitive Intelligence Analysis: A Complete Guide

Guide Overview

  • Introduction

  •  What is competitive intelligence analysis?

  • The competitive intelligence analysis process (8 steps)

  • The 8 benefits of competitive intelligence analysis

  • What types of intelligence can you gather & analyse?

  • The role of CI platforms 

  • Competitive intelligence analysis for different sectors.


The average company analyses just 40% of its data. But how many opportunities – or even potential threats – are to be found in the remaining 60%?


97.2% of businesses are investing in big data and AI, with the global intelligence market expected to be worth $33.3 billion by 2025. But analysis remains under-used – in part due to resources but also due to a lack of clarity around the process it involves.


This article will provide a clear and comprehensive guide to competitive intelligence analysis, covering what it is, what it involves and how to do it properly.


Let’s start with a definition of competitive intelligence analysis.

competitive intelligence analysis

What Is Competitive Intelligence Analysis?

Competitive Intelligence analysis, often referred to as CI analysis, is a strategic business practice that involves gathering and analysing information about your industry, competitors and market trends. It plays a crucial role in shaping a company’s business strategy, helping it to stay ahead of the competition and make well-informed decisions.


CI analysis is not a standalone activity. It’s an integral part of a company’s strategic planning. By understanding the competitive landscape, businesses can tailor their strategies to exploit opportunities and mitigate risks effectively. This ensures decisions are aligned with the current market dynamics.


In the digital era, making decisions based on intuition or outdated information can be detrimental to an organisation’s success. Competitive intelligence analysis empowers businesses with relevant, actionable and up-to-date data. It enables them to make decisions rooted in concrete insights, whether it’s for product development, marketing campaigns or expansion plans.

The Competitive Intelligence Analysis Process



While there can be variations of in the CI analysis process, it broadly consists of the following areas:

1) Defining clear objectives

Before embarking on a competitive intelligence analysis journey, it’s crucial to begin with the clarification of goals. This step involves identifying what specific objectives you want to achieve through CI analysis. Clear goals provide direction and purpose to the process.

2) Identifying targets and focus areas

Determine who and what to track. Identify the key players in your industry and the specific aspects or variables that will be the focus of your analysis. This step helps in narrowing down the scope and ensures that your efforts are concentrated on the most relevant areas.

3) Data gathering

Once your targets and focus areas are established, the next stage involves collecting data. This data may come from various sources, including competitors’ websites, social media channels, market reports and industry publications.

4) Data curation

After gathering data, it needs to be curated to filter out the most relevant and valuable information. This process involves sifting through the data to select what is most pertinent to your objectives. Curation ensures that your analysis is based on high-quality, meaningful data.

5) Statistical competitive intelligence analysis

Statistical analysis involves using data-driven methods and tools to derive insights. It helps in quantifying trends, patterns, and relationships in the data. Statistical techniques are instrumental in identifying statistical significance and correlations.

6) Human-centric competitive intelligence analysis

Beyond statistical analysis, human insight is invaluable. This step entails human interpretation and contextual understanding of the data. Skilled analysts scrutinise the curated data to extract insights that may not be apparent through statistical analysis alone.

7) Sharing intelligence

The intelligence gathered and analysed needs to be shared within the organisation. Effective communication of insights and findings ensures that decision-makers across the company are informed and aligned with the competitive landscape.

8) Using intelligence

The final step involves putting the intelligence to practical use. Decision-makers use the gathered insights to inform strategies, make informed decisions and stay ahead of the competition. The real value of competitive intelligence lies in its application to drive success.

Key Benefits of Competitive Intelligence Analysis

Market trend identification

Competitive intelligence analysis serves as a reliable radar for identifying market trends. By closely monitoring data from various sources, businesses can spot emerging trends, consumer preferences and industry shifts. This foresight empowers companies to adapt and make the most of new opportunities.

Understanding competitor strategies

One of the primary advantages of CI analysis is gaining insights into competitor strategies. By tracking the actions and decisions of competitors, businesses can anticipate their moves, strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge is essential for devising strategies that position your company effectively in the market.

Informed decision-making

CI analysis equips decision-makers with up-to-date, accurate information. In a rapidly changing business environment, making decisions based on data-driven insights is invaluable. This approach minimises uncertainty and enhances the probability of making well-informed, strategic decisions.

Risk assessment

Assessing risks is a fundamental aspect of business. Competitive intelligence analysis aids in risk assessment by identifying potential threats from competitors or changes in the market. With this information, businesses can proactively mitigate risks and safeguard their positions.

Competitive advantage

Competitive intelligence can give businesses a competitive advantage. By staying ahead of industry trends and competitors, they can differentiate themselves and become market leaders. This advantage not only attracts customers but also ensures long-term sustainability and growth.

Efficient resource allocation

CI analysis enables businesses to allocate resources more efficiently. With insights into what works and what doesn’t, companies can allocate budgets, time and personnel to areas that promise the highest returns. This optimisation contributes to cost-effective operations.

Adaptability to market dynamics

Adaptability in the digital age is crucial. Competitive intelligence analysis provides the agility required to respond to changing market dynamics fast. By promptly adjusting strategies and tactics based on real-time intelligence, companies can remain competitive.

Validation of assumptions

Businesses often operate on assumptions and hypotheses. Competitive intelligence analysis helps validate these assumptions with concrete data. This validation reduces the reliance on guesswork and ensures that strategies and decisions are grounded in reality.

learning to gain a competitive advantage

The Role Of Competitive Intelligence Platforms


Competitive intelligence platforms have become integral tools for businesses seeking to gain a competitive edge in the modern marketplace. These platforms offer a range of features and functionalities that facilitate the collection, analysis and application of competitive intelligence. 


Here’s how they facilitate competitive intelligence analysis.

A) Data aggregation and automation

Competitive intelligence platforms automate the collection of data from various sources, saving the time and effort involved in manual tracking. They can pull data from competitor websites, market reports, social media and more, streamlining the process of data aggregation.

B) Real-time insights

One of the significant advantages of these platforms is their ability to provide real-time insights. Businesses can stay updated on changes in the market, competitor activities and emerging trends. This feature is invaluable for making agile decisions in a fast-paced business environment.

C) Data visualisation

Competitive intelligence platforms often offer data visualisation tools that transform complex information into easily understandable charts, graphs and dashboards. These visuals aid in the interpretation of data and the communication of insights within the organisation.

D) Competitive benchmarking

Many platforms facilitate competitive benchmarking, allowing businesses to compare their performance and strategies against competitors. This comparative analysis helps in identifying areas for improvement and differentiation.

E) Competitor tracking

These platforms enable continuous monitoring of competitors. Businesses can set up alerts to receive notifications when competitors make significant changes to their websites, products or marketing strategies. This proactive tracking is vital for staying ahead in the market.

F) Customised reporting

Competitive intelligence platforms allow users to generate customised reports and analyses based on their specific needs and objectives. This flexibility ensures that businesses can focus on the data most relevant to their operations.

G) Market research and analysis

Many platforms offer market research and analysis features, as well as human analysis, providing access to in-depth market data and trends. This information is valuable for understanding the broader market context in which a business operates.

H) Competitive strategy formulation

With the data and insights gathered through these platforms, businesses can formulate and refine their competitive strategies. These strategies may encompass product development, pricing, marketing and positioning within the market.

What Types Of Intelligence Can You Gather & Analyse?


Competitive intelligence encompasses a wide array of data and insights that businesses can gather and analyse. Understanding the various types of intelligence available is essential for tailoring your competitive analysis to meet specific objectives. 


Here are the key categories of intelligence that you can gather and analyse:

Competitor activities

This category focuses on tracking and analysing the actions and strategies of competitors. It includes monitoring changes in their product offerings, pricing strategies, marketing campaigns and expansion plans. Understanding your competitors’ moves is crucial for staying competitive in your market.

Market trends

Monitoring market trends involves keeping an eye on shifts in consumer preferences, industry developments and emerging technologies. This intelligence allows businesses to adapt their strategies to meet evolving market demands and opportunities.

Customer sentiment

Analysing customer feedback, reviews and social media conversations provides insights into customer sentiment towards your products, services and those of your competitors. This information can guide product development and customer service improvements.


Pricing and promotion data

Pricing intelligence involves tracking the pricing strategies of both your own business and competitors. Understanding how competitors price their products and services can inform your own pricing decisions. Additionally, analysing promotional activities, discounts and special offers can help in planning competitive marketing strategies.

Market entry & expansion strategies

This intelligence category focuses on how businesses are entering new markets or expanding their existing operations. It includes tracking market entry methods, partnerships, mergers and acquisitions and global expansion efforts.

Product & service innovation

Keeping tabs on product or service innovations within your industry is vital. This type of intelligence provides insights into the latest technological advancements, product features, and improvements that can guide your own product development efforts.

Regulatory changes

Monitoring changes in regulations and compliance requirements is essential for businesses operating in regulated industries. This intelligence helps in ensuring that your operations remain in line with legal and industry standards.

Supply chain & vendor information

Understanding the suppliers, vendors and supply chain practices of both your business and competitors is crucial. It can help identify potential vulnerabilities and opportunities for improvement in the supply chain.

Emerging competitors

Identifying potential new entrants to your market is vital for proactive strategy development. This intelligence category involves tracking startups, emerging companies and disruptors that could impact your industry.

competitive intelligence product marketingr

Competitive Intelligence Analysis For Different Sectors

Competitive intelligence analysis is a versatile practice that finds applications across a wide array of industries and sectors. It provides valuable insights and strategic advantages, tailored to the specific dynamics and challenges of each sector. 

Retail & E-Commerce

In the retail sector, competitive intelligence often focuses on tracking competitors’ pricing strategies, inventory management and consumer behaviour. This data aids in setting competitive prices, optimising stock levels and understanding customer preferences.

Technology & IT

The technology sector benefits from competitive intelligence by monitoring patent filings, product launches and market trends. This information is vital for staying ahead in the fast-paced world of tech innovation.

Healthcare & pharmaceuticals

Competitive intelligence in pharma and healthcare typically involves monitoring clinical trials, regulatory changes and competitive product pipelines. It aids in making informed decisions about drug development, market entry and compliance.


Finance & banking

In the financial sector, competitive intelligence centres on tracking interest rates, investment trends and risk factors. This data assists in offering competitive financial products and managing risks effectively.

Manufacturing & engineering

Competitive intelligence for manufacturing focuses on supply chain efficiency, manufacturing technologies and competitor quality standards. It helps in streamlining production processes and maintaining product quality.

Hospitality & tourism

In this sector, competitive intelligence analyses consumer reviews, pricing strategies of hotels and airlines and tourism trends. This information guides pricing, marketing campaigns and service enhancements.

Energy & utilities

Competitive intelligence in the energy sector involves tracking changes in energy regulations, the development of renewable technologies and competitor energy prices. This data informs strategic decisions regarding energy generation and distribution.

Legal & professional Services

In the legal sector, competitive intelligence is focused on tracking market demand for legal services, competitor pricing and emerging areas of legal expertise. This information aids in strategic planning and client acquisition.

Concluding Thoughts on Competitive Intelligence Analysis

Competitive intelligence is not just a tool. It’s a fundamental approach that empowers businesses to stay ahead of the competition. By mastering competitive intelligence analysis, companies can anticipate market trends, adapt to changes and make informed decisions, ultimately thriving in today’s fiercely competitive business environment.