What Is Competitive Intelligence & How Is Your Competition Using It?

Sergio Oliveri |
 06/20/23 |
9 min read

What Is Competitive Intelligence and How Is Your Competition Using It

Leading companies cover their bases by staying on top of news about their competitors and the market. This tactical intelligence informs strategic decision-making and helps brands rise like cream to the top. And you can too!

Competitive intel is not just “nice to have”—it is essential. Innovative brands utilize competitive intelligence to monitor and benchmark themselves against rivals and uncover which ones are emerging or gaining ground in a particular market. Here, we’ll discover what your rivals could already be aware of—and what you and your marketing team have been missing!

What Is Competitive Intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is the act of gathering, analyzing, and utilizing data collected on competitors, consumers, and other market components to inform business strategy.

Currently, competitors are using traffic analytics to capture your site traffic and keywords, site changes, and traffic sources. They are identifying or dominating white space opportunities and doing this unchallenged. And as every company is global, it’s important to understand global happenings, as each can affect your competitor profile.

For example, a global food industry brand would need to understand worldwide purchase trends, including:

  • According to the 2022 Germany Menu Trends Market Report, “48% of German consumers claim they have limited/reduced the amount of meat/poultry they eat.”
  • In France, the Alliance Experts shares that “more consumers eat outside their homes and buy meals ‘on the go.'” But they’re a discerning lot of consumers that increasingly demand for certification and labeling thanks to past food safety scares.
  • And in the UK, Uren predicts the locavore movement is going to grow as consumers become “more interested in where their food comes from, and opting for locally grown produce.”

Brands in the know on these and other issues have access to crystal ball called data intelligence, and it’s yours for the taking. You should be moving first on trends you’re allowing to slip through your fingers. And it’s time to change that.

You need powerful competitor auditing capabilities and top-notch market intelligence when identifying these new opportunities. And this is where competitive intelligence tools come in. So say hello to your new best friend. Our competitive intelligence best practices guide covers The Importance of Competitive Intelligence beyond what you’ll find shared here. So be sure to check it out!

Competitive Intelligence is Essential – Here’s Why

Competitive intelligence provides tactical advice by helping you understand your audience and their needs. It lets you stay up-to-date with your competitors and the larger competitive environment and ultimately inform your strategic business decisions. Actively and effectively keeping tabs on your competitors gives you a leg up in your industry, always keeping you one step ahead. When you have a strategy in place for using competitive market intelligence tools like Quid, you’re setting yourself up to be successful:

Drive new business pitches

  • Measure brand perception and market presence
  • Map customer reviews
  • Conduct competitive analysis
  • Discover cultural patterns
  • Gather creative inspiration

So, where do you start? Keep reading as we will delve into where to gather your sources, how to conduct a competitor comparison, and what to look for in a competitive intelligence tool.

Gathering Competitive Sources

Of course, you need to know where to gather your competition intelligence. And almost everything is online, almost. To get you started, here are a few ideas of where to look:

  • The social web includes social channels, websites, and apps that can reveal current conversations and shifts in sentiment.
  • News media can provide strategic intelligence, informing you of tactical moves, strengths, and threats conveniently detailed in articles. Also, earnings calls and other analyses offer great supplementary intel.
  • Product analysis can be very revealing, and it’s available by simply uploading reviews and forum intel for analysis.
  • Customer surveys and comment data.
  • Industry events, conferences, and trade shows with potential market prospects.

Ideally, a brand should be able to upload this data seamlessly and automatically into a single business intelligence tool for analysis.

How Competitive Intelligence is Used

Because competitive intel facilitates a better understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of your rivals, your business intelligence is much enhanced. Once you’ve gathered sources and uploaded them, you should be able to identify your competition. In most cases, your most threatening rivals will be those with similar market share, voice, and audiences. For example, they may offer a similar product or service. Or they may attract your target audiences. So you’ll want to play spy and dissect their movements.

Let’s explore more specifically on how you can use competitive intelligence to assist your brand.

Locate preferred platforms

Perhaps they’re winning on Instagram, and this is a platform that you’ve never considered. Do they know something you don’t about the audience there? Below, Rival IQ illustrates what this competitor comparison could look like when comparing two brands on Instagram:

comparing brands in rival iq

Track Market Campaigns

Tracking their platform play will help you keep an eye on their relevant campaigns to see which resonates with consumers. Are their paid, organic, or earned efforts paying off? Knowing this allows you to fine-tune your campaign strategies.

Analyze Rival Hashtags and Keywords

Hashtags are a powerful way to reach consumers, assuming you know which ones are trending. Locating these items helps you monitor meaningful category conversations and can inspire ideas for your own branded campaigns.

Hashtag analysis pinpoints which hashtags are doing well for your rivals and what consumers are saying in these conversations specifically. Is it a contest with people sharing product imagery or a way to reimagine your offering?

Sometimes hashtags crop up organically and aren’t created by brands at all but by invested consumers––or even potential influencers!

And tracking keywords also provides fantastic strategic intelligence on what your rivals’ audiences are speaking about concerning the brand. This data helps you become a part of their conversation, as you can create messaging that speaks to customers’ precise concerns.

It also helps you understand the language they’re using, so your brand can be recognized as a relevant and engaged thought leader in the space.

Consumers are much more likely to purchase from a brand that understands them and connects with them versus one that blindly pushes out products and ignores their needs. And when you monitor the conversations happening around your competitors, that picture is far more complete.

And finally, you’ll need to review the findings with your brand and strategies in mind. How do you measure up? Is your brand being discussed more often than others? Less? And in what context, comparatively?

Also, how does the sentiment story look? Is the conversation positive, negative, or perhaps indifferent? How passionate are consumers when they discuss your offerings? It matters.

net senitment and passion comparison

And this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding what competitive intel can do for you.

What Your Competitive Intelligence Tool Should Include

Today, there are a plethora of competitive tools to choose from. Some offer just competitive intel, while other tools provide a complete approach. No matter what tool you pick, you’ll need to ensure it meets your immediate needs and any future endeavors. Below we’ve provided a list of competitive tool ‘must-haves.

Your competitive analysis tool should:

  • Locate your closest competition by audience size and market
  • Provide an understanding of who your closest rivals are and how their market position may have changed over time
  • Provide side-by-side comparisons of your closest contenders and their audiences
  • Uncover consumer sentiments about a rival’s brand, product, or service
  • Uncover fresh opportunities for new and innovative products or services
  • Identify emerging trends
  • Surface historical data for comparison
  • Provide hashtag and keyword analysis
  • Locate white space and first-mover opportunities
  • Highlight opportunities for acquisitions and investments
  • Detail demographics of audiences, not just whether they are male or female, but interests, professions, and even brands they love

The Best Competitive Intelligence Tools in 2023

The list above details what complete competitive intelligence programs should offer you. However, not everyone needs everything (though we think they should have it just in case!) Some will provide a complete view of the competitive landscape, while others may offer limited options and are better fit for a quick glance into the competitive market.

Next, we’ll look at five tools that are worth your time and money regarding competitive analysis. Let’s begin…

NetBase Quid®

The key component to gathering competitive insight is to have a complete picture. The tools from NetBase Quid® compile the most comprehensive view of brands onto one platform. Additionally, it features an insight combination that is difficult for organizations to find elsewhere. The sources on our list are, but are not limited to:

  • Social channels
  • Company profiles
  • Forums
  • Blogs
  • News reports
  • Applications for patents
  • Customer satisfaction feedback
  • Product evaluations
  • Your company dataset

When comparing your standing against competitors in the overall market, a complete picture is needed to ensure sound footing when making decisions. NetBase Quid® gives CEOs the practical knowledge they need to make quick, strategic business choices using social intelligence and market research. Our tool lifts the veil on:

  • Brand perception and health
  • Campaign execution and strategy
  • Market and cultural trends
  • Product development and study
  • Market research and competitive intelligence
  • …and more.

NetBase Quid® is already the market leader in reliable intelligence and makes brands’ lives easier with contextualized and actionable insights obtained through social listening, social monitoring, image analysis, competitive analysis, influencer identification, crisis response, and a ton of other methods.

Pricing is by inquiry, or you can reach out for a demo to put us to the test.

Rival IQ

competitive audit on rival iq 

Accelerate your competitive analysis with Rival IQ. This tool for competitive intelligence focuses on social channels. The application includes built-in integrations with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and TikTok for brands who want to monitor their rivals on all the major social media platforms.

Benchmark your performance against specific competitors and the industry at large using Rival IQ’s competitive analysis. You can leave the trackers running for continuous monitoring with always-on benchmarking, so you’re always aware of your competitive position.

You may conduct comprehensive social media audits that include content performance, hashtag analytics, and hot topics. Additionally, Google Analytics integration lets you view other facets of the consumer journey outside social channels.

With automatically generated reports tailored to match the style of your business, Rival IQ also makes reporting simple.

Rival IQ has several free tools as well as paid ones. Pricing for paid tools begins at $239 a month. They also have a free trial.

Social Searcher

social searcher

Social Searcher works by gathering data on new and emerging trends and hot subjects in your industry. You can use it to look up industry-specific keywords, content, mentions, people, and trends across social media networks. Additionally, you can apply a number of filters to narrow your results.

Along with providing tracking indicators like mentions, users, and sentiment, the application also posts real-time updates on social media activity.

Social Searcher has a basic free option. After that, they have a 14-day free trial, with prices starting at 3.49 pounds per month.



Wappalyzer has a unique approach to competitive intelligence. It is a straightforward browser plugin that examines and reports on the technologies that rival websites utilize, such as:

  • Content management systems
  • E-commerce platforms
  • Web frameworks
  • Server software
  • Analytics tools
  • Ad networks
  • Caching tools
  • CRMs
  • Development tools
  • CDNs and a ton more.

It has a pretty impressive and comprehensive list of supported technologies. Why does this matter? Understanding the technology your competitors use on their websites is crucial since it may give a firm a significant competitive advantage. For example, they may be using very basic analytic tools. You could wipe out the competition by employing a more comprehensive tool that surfaces metrics that reveal more than just mentions and likes.

You can sign up for free; pricing begins at $149 a month.


Klue is a competitive intelligence platform powered by AI created to assist product marketers and CI teams in gathering, curating, and delivering relevant competitor data to enable Sales to close more deals.

Klue is a fantastic tool when it comes to competitive position. First, it gives enterprise sales teams dynamic knowledge about rivals, enabling them to close more deals. The software ingeniously combines internal expertise from your staff on the ground with external competitor intelligence. Secondly, it simplifies the sales process by providing sales teams access to the data from any location.

They offer a free demo, and pricing is by inquiry.

Frequently Asked Questions About Competitive Intelligence

What is the main function of competitive intelligence?

By gathering competitive intelligence and identifying dangers and opportunities before they are visible, competitive intelligence professionals can improve organizational performance and assist in better-informed decisions.

What is good competitive intelligence?

Good competitive intelligence involves creating a plan of action to follow and integrating solid competitive intelligence research. This way, you’ll better grasp what you need to know and how you should apply that knowledge. In addition, being proactive rather than reactive will help you stay one step ahead of the competition and competitors’ strategies.

What is a competitive intelligence example?

How airlines use competitive intelligence to inform their competitive strategy is an excellent illustration. Every day, they adjust the rates of their tickets in light of the data they collect. For instance, Delta may follow suit to generate substantial revenue if a competitor raises pricing on specific routes. If airlines lower their costs, Delta may do the same to remain competitive and desirable.

What are some competitive intelligence best practices?

Here are a few steps to get you pointed in the right direction!

  • Find out who your rivals are—using a competitive analysis tool is the best way to do this. It can uncover competition you may not have known existed, as opposed to only a small portion of known competitors.
  • Determine goals and what you’d like to accomplish. For example, are you looking to introduce a new product? Or are you hoping to make your latest ad stand out? Clear and defined goals will help you stay focused on the task.
  • Determine methods for data collecting—again, use a tool. It is much more time and cost-effective than manual data collection, and a competitive analytics tool is free of human error.
  • Evaluate your data for strategic planning.
  • Share information with key stakeholders.
  • Analyze frequently, as competitive intelligence monitoring is an ongoing process.

Maybe you’re just starting, or you’ve been in the game for a long time. Or you’re using competitive analysis, but it doesn’t have the power you need, and you feel like you’re falling behind in your competitive intelligence strategy. We can help you stay current and maintain a competitive edge in an overcrowded market. Reach out for a demo to get a sense of what a competitive intelligence tool should be. You’ll be glad you did!

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