Competitor Research Plan
A Competitor Research Plan provides a Guide to Plan and Execute a Successful Research Project
Competitor Research Plan: Your boss gives you the assignment to conduct a competitor research study. Where to begin?
Things you need to know:
• the reasons and objectives behind the assignment,
• what deliverables (information) are needed;
• how the deliverables will be used; and
• sources of competitor information.
This article will deal with finding the sources of information.
Competitor Research: Three Sources of Information
There are three main sources of competitor information: internal, external and primary research.
Puts your networking and diplomatic skills to work by contacting management and staff from other departments: They are important sources of information.
Here is a quick list of possible internal sources of information:
• frontline staff (sales and customer service representatives);
• Human Resources (they may have résumés from employees of competitors)
• Legal department
• Ex-employees of competitor
Put your curiosity and investigative skills to the test by contacting external sources of information. Here are some sources of external information:
• Competitor websites, including blogs
• Social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
• Industry websites and journals
• Quarterly and annual reports
• Press releases
• Information gathered from databases (like the Millie dashboard from northernlight.com) or databases available from public libraries
• Purchased market research studies (which may be available at your public library)
The sources mentioned above fall under the category of secondary research.
The third source for competitor research falls under the category of primary research. Making direct calls to competitors is one way to gather information but be aware of the risks involved. The other option to hire a research firm to conduct the research on behalf of your company.
There are many valid sources of secondary information that a researcher can use to conduct competitor research. It is only after the secondary sources have been exhausted that one should consider using a research vendor to conduct primary research. Conducting thorough secondary research will guide you in outlining the objectives of any primary research and to focus precisely on the information requirements for competitor research.