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Competitive Intelligence – A Catalyst in the Product Development Process

Competitive intelligence

Published on Sep 03, 2022

Over the years, brands across industries and verticals have increasingly used competitive intelligence (CI) for a sustainable and profitable product or service offering. The current marketplace is flooded with companies offering similar, if not unique, products and services. Moreover, the competitive business environment today has become increasingly uncertain and unprecedented due to shorter product lifecycles and changing demands of customers in terms of price, product specifications, packaging, and delivery.

What is Competitive Intelligence? 

Competitive intelligence (CI) involves collecting, validating, transforming, analyzing, and reporting data describing the relationship between a company, its business rivals, industry trends, macroeconomic events, policies, and stakeholders. And the corporate world regards CI as integral to resilient business development and strategy creation. 

what is competitive intelligence

Product managers rely heavily on intel about industry and market trends, consumer needs and behavior, brand representation, and, more importantly, the move of competitors to then design and build products. Thus, predicting the right direction of your product launch roadmap always becomes a daunting task. Without it, your offering may fail soon and disappear from the shelf without giving you time to react and act. This is where competitive intelligence comes into the picture.

For companies to offer seamless and innovative product experiences, they need the quintessential capabilities of product and service innovation, market insight, strategy assessment, critical vulnerabilities, and tactical information about their own market positioning and that of competitors. Today’s CI answers customers' demand for real-time, comprehensive, personalized, and channel-agnostic experiences. 

Therefore, leaders must focus on how competitive intelligence will benefit their product teams to create product roadmaps based on competitor and customer profiles, competitors' position, and their business models to stay ahead of the curve. 

Optimize Your Product Roadmaps with Competitive Intelligence 

Production planning, manufacturing, redesigning, and distribution can tremendously improve if managers implement a correctly optimized competitive intelligence platform. After all, CI insights help leaders investigate queries like the ones described below. 

  1. Why do some customers quit using a product or service while selecting a rival brand’s identical offerings? 

  1. How do demographic, financial, and cultural differences in multiple markets affect a company’s global turnover? 

  1. What are the macroeconomic and multi-territorial supply chain risks that the brand must monitor and mitigate? 

CI specialists empower organizations to explore alternative business models and conduct feasibility studies before deploying an idea at a more significant scale. Their insightful reporting allows managers to discard unpopular product features, dedicating their resources to a product’s more in-demand versions. 

Whether you offer service or run an automobile business, competitive intelligence and strategy will be indispensable to ensuring long-term growth. Besides, reputed companies have embraced modern CI integrations across initial product design drafts, prototyping, project management, and market penetration. 

This article will focus on how competitive intelligence will benefit product teams to create product roadmaps based on competitor and customer profiles, competitors' position, and their business models to stay ahead of the curve.

Benefits of Competitive Intelligence 

1. Ideation and Concept Testing

Not only does Competitive intelligence (CI) help companies reduce the costs and risks associated with new product development, innovation, and launch, it also reveals emerging trends and highlights whitespaces and changing industry landscapes. Moreover, CI generates new opportunities for product development or innovation by providing regular and deep insights into the needs and psyche of the customers. Competitive intelligence should be a continuous process and studied closely to understand and respond effectively to consumer and competitors' moves.

During product ideation and development, CI can provide essential information about different development phases such as competitors' products, patents, technologies under development, market and sector information, and more. This will assist the design and development of a new product/service with specific techno-functional capabilities.

Media and the market often tell a different story about brand visibility and consumer perception. As a result, products or services fail due to consumer interest, poor market fit, incorrect pricing, and poor execution.

A business can better predict consumer behavior and taste across business domains with gleaned testing assumptions across data aggregation, synthesis, and action. They can also leverage market intelligence services to estimate what strategies will work the best for a product. Proper concept testing and testing assumptions would help product owners understand consumer behaviors and the commercial viability of products and services. 

Ideation and concept testing

2. Development Prioritization

Product managers often feel pressured by marketing and sales professionals to prioritize certain features over others. Instead of arguing over instinct, product managers can rely on competitive intelligence as the rationale for key forward actions. Solid customer feedback combined with market intelligence can help product managers develop solid roadmaps. Without proper CI, product managers are often prone to pursue an outdated strategy or be undermined by competition.

Developing new features is crucial and paramount for any product-based company. But which features to prioritize is always tricky for project managers to answer. Thankfully, competitive intelligence assists in identifying signals and help convert them into coherent information to prioritize the most promising features in the development cycle. CI can help categorize new product features and enhancements into similar themes based on your ideal customer profile (ICP), thus aligning your feature development with your product vision.

3. Mapping Your Competitive Positioning

Competitive Positioning

Competitive positioning is one element of CI that is often overlooked. Most companies fail to build competitive advantages and destroy competitors' advantages. In the current hyper-competitive market, brands should quickly migrate from one competitive position to another, build new ones, depreciate old ones, and match their own competitive position with that of competitors. 

Competitive positioning develops your ability to think strategically, analyze the competitive environment, and value creation with methods like operational excellence, product leadership, and customer intimacy. An effective competitive intelligence can support your positioning strategy with inputs for brand differentiation, Product/Brand Awareness and Reputation, price-benefit positioning maps, and most importantly, the total market size and opportunity. A good positioning strategy would mean half the battle and requires careful evaluation of your competitive advantage and products’ unique selling proposition (USP) to build a product portfolio that can meet current and emerging market needs.

4. Commercialization

Commercialization without effective competitive intelligence is like a body without a soul. Many companies launch various products but successfully commercialize only a few of them. A mature commercialization plan will help organizations deploy lean innovation components at every stage of the product development lifecycle, such as design thinking, best practices, and agile methodology. CI provides a holistic overview that clearly states how closely the product launched aligns with your core business value and strategic directions required for an effective commercialization action plan.

Commercialization paves the way for the company to set out advertising and promotional planning of the product by providing information and other intel about partners, advertisers, and sponsors. Establishing credibility and awareness would help disseminate key messages across channels to motivate purchases from your brand. 


Competitive intelligence is an invaluable process for any product development and execution exercise. When formulated, conducted, and exercised, it would enhance your operations workflow and unearth several vital competitive insights. CI isn't just important because of what it offers companies. Digital technologies, technological breakthroughs, and a plethora of intel across the web have made the market more competitive and agile. Due to this, CI is now used not just as an instrument to tackle competition but also as a tool to defend oneself from them.

The amalgamation of technology and the AI-powered Competitive Intelligence tool can give you a real-time and comprehensive picture of the competitive market landscape by delivering insights from various online sources.

Want to know more about how the iNava Competitive Intelligence Platform can help you? Connect with the iNava team.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Q.1| What is Product Competitor Analysis? 

Product managers must study what their competitors are introducing in the target market to understand what makes a product attractive to the consumers and how to surpass rivaling product’s market share. They can conduct a product competitor analysis using advanced competitive intelligence tools integrating automated data processing modules. 

Q.2| Who is Responsible for Competitive Intelligence? 

Depending on the organization’s structure, one or more professionals in the marketing, strategic planning, risk management, and sales departments will be responsible for CI collection. However, collaborating with in-house competitor analysts or independent consultants will help businesses convert the acquired datasets into business-relevant insights efficiently.  

Q.3| What Are the Different Types of Competitor Product Intelligence? 

Competitive intelligence optimized for product development and innovation branches into the following sub-disciplines. 

  1. Market intelligence examines consumer trends, product expectations, popular features, pricing challenges, brand visibility, and regional competition. 

  1. Product sales analytics explores where the company gets revenue from, what makes a deal closure successful, and how long a business-consumer relationship lasts. Furthermore, identifying average order value and repeat purchase rate helps determine whether the conversion targets vital for accomplishing financial performance are being met. 

  1. Macroeconomic event monitoring allows brands to predict potential business threats and product innovation opportunities. The former relates to negative risk analysis, while the latter concerns positive risks. 

  1. Customer support data enables companies to focus on product usability metrics and servicing issues that consumers frequently raise. CI technologies can also integrate with artificial intelligence (AI) to automate consumer education and post-purchase assistance tasks, increasing the clients’ competitive edge.