Competitive Intelligence in Europe

From Customer to Competitor

Chris West
Marketing Intelligence Services, UK


There are many reasons for studying markets and many aspects of markets which need to be studied. Within the overall spectrum of analysis which takes place, the customer has been and still is the prime subject. The customer is the ultimate target of all marketing activity and understanding customer activities, requirements and expectations is an essential ingredient in the development of marketing strategies. This is not to say that the other components of markets are ignored. Distributors, specifiers, advisors and competitors are subjected to varying levels of examination in the quest to define a winning strategy but to date the customer has been king.

The prominence of customer analysis is not exactly under threat but as soon as the research business, in the broadest sense, is examined, it is clear that an increasing proportion of resources are being allocated to the study of competitors. In Europe the sums spent on competitor analysis are still relatively small but dependence on customer analysis is being diluted as an increasing number of companies appreciate that overdependence on customer driven strategies is less and less likely to produce results.