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Marketing intelligence

Insider and current commercial information about a competitor or its lack can sometimes lead to serious problems or, conversely, to significant business success. This article is about intelligence.
Is it often necessary to have information about a competitor company? There can be no definitive answer “yes” or “no”. However, the author faced situations where competitor information was more useful than ever when making important strategic decisions.

Imagine such a situation. There is a large Russian food producer, which in a certain region is represented by two dealers. These dealers divide among themselves the regional market, for example, 50 to 50% of the total share and … one competitor, for several reasons, is not able to serve it in the near future. In other words, he is bankrupt. You know about it or have learned by chance, while the share of the competitor’s regional market is 8-10 million rubles.

Having such information, you, of course, have already had the idea to explain to the manufacturer the “situation” and drag all the accumulated clientele of a competitor to itself, thereby increasing its sales, market presence, and, of course, its profits.

And if fortune smiles on you, if you prove to the manufacturer that you have all the necessary resources (warehouses, vehicles, financial and human resources) for the successful implementation of this idea, if you find mutual understanding, then it is possible that the manufacturer will not look for “spare option “and entrust the entire regional market to you.

I think it is not necessary to focus attention on the fact that in addition to headaches and other organizational aspects, the described development of events can bring significant dividends. How do you like this situation?

I would like to immediately note that this example is just a special case. One of the many that are constantly included in our lives, and in the life of your business. I think that almost all “practicing” businessmen have encountered similar situations. Situations when, as in the well-known proverb: “information is everything”. Well, if not all, then very much.

Another example can be cited from the remarkable American film “Wall Street”, when the main character, the stock market shark Gordon Gekko, tells his young but promising employee Bud Fox that “stop bringing me information, learn how to get it”.

But before becoming a “information hunter,” it is necessary to clearly and clearly determine which particular information array interests you. What information, in what form and volume is necessary for you to make this or that management decision? Is it necessary at all?

And one more very subtle point: you must firmly know where the line that distinguishes competitive intelligence from industrial espionage lies. This line sets the law. Here is what Elena Larina writes in the book Practical Competitive Intelligence. Introductory course “:

“Working with primary sources, about which we will write in this part, the subject is much more subtle and ambiguous. Primary sources are information carriers. And if absolutely simple – people. And when receiving information from a person, one must firmly know where the line that distinguishes competitive intelligence from industrial espionage lies. This line sets the law. Competitive intelligence law abides, industrial espionage – no. By the way, in recent years there have been several major studies on competitive intelligence and industrial espionage. As a result, stunning figures emerged. The advantages should be attributed to the fact that more than a third of companies use competitive intelligence methods to one degree or another. But what can not but alarm us – more than four fifth of the executives surveyed said that they considered industrial espionage to be an effective method of competitive struggle. And more than half of the workers, which did not include workers and technical specialists, are ready to sell information relating to trade secrets for money. Such are the realities of Russian business. ”

The main law that sets the boundary between competitive intelligence and industrial espionage is the Law on Commercial Secrets. The key in the Law are paragraph 1, paragraph 2 of Article 3, where it is determined that it relates to a trade secret. A trade secret is understood as “confidential information that allows its owner, under existing or possible circumstances, to increase revenues, avoid unnecessary costs, maintain a position in the market for goods, services, work, or obtain other commercial benefits.” As experts note, in fact, any information about the enterprise may fall under this topic.

In clause 2 of article 3, the concept of a trade secret is specified. “It includes scientific and technical, technological, industrial, financial and economic or other information, including component production secrets or“ know-how ”, which has real or potential commercial value due to its unknown to third parties.

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