Market Intel in B2B: Grasp intelligence from the source!
In market intelligence all kinds of different secondary sources are used to generate market insights. Secondary sources are providers of (self-reproduced) data that tell you something about a specific market. Providers can be commercial data brokers, governmental statistical offices or customized consultancy services using other kind of sources. In a B2C environment, because of the use of checkout data and loyalty cards, these secondary sources are often sufficient for the purpose of strategic or tactical decision making. In B2B this data, in almost all cases, is not or limited available.
Collecting solid and effective market intelligence in B2B, for different reasons, is challenging. These markets often are experienced as massive black boxes. To whiten this black box companies are confronted with lots of limitations. OSINT is less available, commercial brokers and other secondary sources are scarce, and in case data is available it needs to be modelled and customized to make it actionable. There are specialized boutique consultancies who are very professional, almost artisanal, producers of adequate and tailor-made market insights using not only OSINT but also HUMINT, MASINT, IMINT etc. However, the quality of their work can increase significantly when consulting primary sources as well.
As marketeers know ‘the market’ is a generalized concept in which ‘the customer’ at the utmost is known by division into different segments. However, in reality each customer is unique.
This unique customer is approachable as a source for generating both specific and more generic market insights. However, in B2B this source is seldom utilized. Whether this is because of a perceived lack of traceability and approachability of the customer is not clear. Or another possible explanation might be the overestimation of related costs. At Hammer, it is our experience that both reasons are not valid.
For both companies active in for instance animal nutrition, vegetable seeds, medicines, smart farming hard- and software and ERP applications we globally organized representative surveys among (dairy)-farmers, craftsmen and for instance installers. These cost efficient surveys provided very detailed insights about market shares, brand awareness, customer loyalties, consumer needs and also packaging or delivery requirements. Intelligence which is priceless for the use of marketing strategies, product innovation and delivery concepts. Compared to secondary sources, direct access to the customer as a primary source enables the market analyst to produce far more detailed info per product category and segment about market shares, brand awareness, innovation requirements, the effectiveness of marketing efforts and route to market preferences. Insights, which in most cases, cannot be deducted from secondary sources and are valued by client companies as a goldmine.
Using data collected from hundreds of semi-structured interviews with customers provide companies with unique market insights that enable them to make differentiating (marketing) strategies. These unique insights support companies in comparing different (global or European) markets on attractiveness or actual performance. But the insights can be used as well for specific country deep dives which intended use is to support market entry strategies. In both cases these unique insights proved to be very complementary to what can be generated by the artisanal craftmanship of market intel professionals using OSINT.
In this perspective, it remains amazing and questionable why so few B2B companies use these cost-effective methods to acquire appropriate market intel.