What is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive Intelligence is the process of gathering and analyzing information about your competitors in the marketplace and the overall business environment to facilitate informed, data-led, strategic decision-making.

It involves gathering data from various sources about your competitors, including their strategies, products, performance, and customers.

After examining the data, you should be in a better position to anticipate your rivals’ moves, identify new market opportunities, and minimize risks.

If you possess the best intelligence and have analyzed it properly, you will have a significant edge over your competitors.

We can also use the term Corporate Intelligence with the same meaning.

Shopify has the following definition of “competitive intelligence”:

“Competitive intelligence is the process of gathering and analyzing information about competitors to gain insights into their strategies, strengths, weaknesses, and market positioning. It involves monitoring competitors’ online presence, marketing campaigns, pricing, product offerings, and customer feedback.”

Competitive intelligence (CI) is not corporate espionage

CI is not corporate espionage, that is, it has nothing to do with illegal spying on other companies or unethical business practices.

It is a legitimate and widely accepted business tool that relies on information that everybody has access to. Examples of this publicly available information include news articles, industry conferences, consumer or specialist magazines, social media platforms, company reports, patent filings, job postings, and regulatory filings

The goal of CI is to gain a better understanding of the competitive marketplace; it has nothing to do with stealing trade secrets or any type of confidential data.

A man and a woman observing a marketplace, gathering competitive intelligence.
Image created by Market Business News.

Competitive intelligence – benefits

  • Understanding the Competitive Landscape

If you understand what your rivals are doing, you know what you need to do to remain competitive. You can more easily and effectively adapt your strategies to gain or maintain a competitive advantage.

If you are wondering whether to adjust your pricing strategies or change some features of your product, the intelligence that you possess can help you make the right choice.

  • Aligning with customer preferences

Customer feedback helps identify consumer preferences, allowing you to align your offerings with customer needs. By being proactive, you are more likely to boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.

If you are always alert and informed, you will identify potential threats and opportunities more quickly. This foresight will enable you to develop strategies to minimize risk and exploit opportunities, rather than reacting to situations after they occur.

Competitive intelligence – steps

The CI process involves several steps, which are:

  • Defining what information you need.
  • Gathering the data.
  • Analyzing it.
  • Distributing intelligence to stakeholders. Stakeholders are individuals or groups with an interest or concern in the business’s decisions and outcomes.

It is an ongoing process. The data you have collected will gradually become more and more obsolete. The business landscape is constantly evolving – things change.


Competitive intelligence is an important component of corporate strategic planning. It equips you with the insights you need to make informed decisions, remain competitive, and adapt to an ever-evolving marketplace.

By understanding your market, you can better meet your customers’ needs, prepare for expected changes, and navigate risks effectively.