Many Managers Aren’t up-to-date on Opportunities in Emerging Markets

Aug. 12, 2012 –

Seventy-six percent of business managers at global companies don’t have information for their needs – even though it’s necessary for productive decisions in expanding into emerging markets.

Some 86 percent agree that data – market sizing and growth estimates – is vital.

However, only 24 percent say the information isn’t available at their companies.

pakorn successThe surprising facts about market intelligence are unveiled in an M-Brain (formerl Global Intelligence Alliance) study: “Perspectives on Emerging Markets 2012-2017 Report.”

After all, competitive intelligence is a salient priority.

“The business managers in our survey admit that in addition to entering more quickly and adapting better to local market conditions, their companies could have conducted better intelligence and due diligence on emerging markets,” says Ville Vanhala, senior vice president of research and monitoring services at GIA.

“This should raise alarm bells,” he says. “Companies risk missing out on key opportunities and threats if they fail to continuously monitor these markets, and to pass on that information to their key managers.”

What type of opportunities?

“Examples include the latest market growth forecasts, labor market developments, competitor movements, industry consolidation and regulatory changes,” he explains. “Business managers also want to keep track of their existing suppliers’ reputation and activities in the market and to be aware of alternate sources of supply.”

Emerging top 30 markets

Rank Country % Respondents
1 India 66.4%
2 Brazil 65.7%
3 China 65.4%
4 Russia 39.7%
5 Indonesia 27.4%
6 South Africa 22.2%
7 Vietnam 20.1%
8 Mexico 18.5%
9 Turkey 17.8%
10 Argentina 10.3%
11 Thailand 9.5%
12 Chile 9.3%
13 South Korea 8.6%
14 Malaysia 8.4%
15 Singapore 8.1%
16 Nigeria 7.7%
17 Colombia 7.4%
18 Saudi Arabia 7.4%
19 Poland 7.0%
20 Philippines 6.7%
21 UAE 6.0%
22 Egypt 5.1%
23 Taiwan 4.9%
24 Hong Kong 4.6%
25 Peru 4.6%
26 Romania 4.2%
27 Czech Republic 3.7%
28 Bangladesh 3.0%
29 Pakistan 3.0%
30 Hungary 2.3%

More surprising details:

  • When comparing how business managers in different countries rate their in-house market intelligence, U.S. companies stand out for lacking readily available information on emerging markets (87 percent) and having inaccurate or incomplete emerging markets information (93 percent).
  • While fewer UK companies suffer delays in decision making on emerging markets because they miss market information (74 percent) compared to the global average (78 percent), 88 percent still say inaccurate or incomplete information about emerging markets is also a problem for them.

GIA’s Web site:

Well, if you’re among the 76 percent, the solutions are obvious. Either exercise due diligence in competitive intelligence or hire an outside participant to do the necessary research.

From the Coach’s Corner, related information:

Strategies, Precautions When Expanding into a New MarketSo you see opportunities by expanding into a new market. Whether you’re expanding across town or into a different region, there are risks to anticipate in alleviating any uncertainty. Even it doesn’t seem risky, due diligence is required and certain precautions are imperative for success.

For Profits, Manage Your Growth at the Right Pace — Entrepreneurs frequently try to rush their business growth. Certainly, growth is great but if you scale too fast, you’re looking for trouble. The key is to prepare.

Optional Strategies for International Trade — Companies engaged in international trade should carefully review their strategies. Author and consultant, Seena Sharp, provides her competitive-intelligence analysis on maximizing revenue from trade in the European Union.

Boeing, Airbus Rivalry – Lessons in Strategic PlanningAirbus has invaded Boeing’s home turf by assembling 10 percent of its A320s in Alabama. China is building jets to compete with Boeing and Airbus.

Competitive Intelligence Author Shares Her InsightsEven before the Great Recession, businesses had headaches in reducing risks. What’s a tool to reduce risk and make profits? Competitive intelligence.

“Data! Data! Data! I can’t make bricks without clay.”

-Sherlock Holmes


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy pakorn at

Noted Competitive Intelligence Author Shares Her Insights

Now that the economy has roared back, it’s worth remembering that during and even before the Great Recession businesses had headaches in reducing risks.

KPMG’s 2007 study of 544 global executives revealed that many companies wanted to be able to be able to manage their performance, but only 20 percent were able to make reliable forecasts.

Yes, it’s still increasingly difficult to stay on top of marketplace challenges and to invest in trends to get the most return on your investments. That’s why the competitive intelligence (CI) process is sweeping the planet. CI enables a company to reduce risks and accelerate profits.

The returns are great, but it usually requires a hefty investment. Even back in 2007, Best Practices LLC said the average CI budget was $821,613. The average CI manager was paid $148,709.

If anyone knows how to make CI cost effective, it’s author Seena Sharp. She wrote the book, “Competitive Intelligence Advantage: How to Minimize Risk, Avoid Surprises, and Grow Your Business in a Changing World.”

“It’s a pragmatic view of CI and how it can immediately provide benefits to those companies that use it,” she said. “Better decisions, reduced risk.”

Not only is she a great author, she is the knowledgeable as principal of consulting firm, Sharp Market Intelligence,

Here’s an excerpt of an interview with Ms. Sharp:

Q: How do you differentiate CI from market research?

A: Market research (MR) captures what consumers say about what they’ve done or will do. Often, the reality is not the same as actual behavior. No one is deliberately lying – we just believe better about ourselves. We exercise four times a week, and eat five vegetables a day, etc. MR is more focused on the past and on intentions.

CI is more focused on what is actually happening in the marketplace and on the near future.

MR is more tactical and methods-driven, while CI is more strategic and results-driven.

MR results are mostly quantitative; CI results are factual, but also include insight, perspective, and raising questions.

MR relies mostly on consumers, while CI taps a wide range of constituencies, including competitors, suppliers, distributors, major customers, and experts.

With MR, software is widely used, while you cannot get CI from software. CI requires analysis and thinking, identifying patterns and discontinuities.

Q: What are your “11 Myths about Competitive Intelligence?”

A: The myths are:
1.   Market research and competitive intelligence are the same.
2.   Competitive and competitor intelligence are the same.
3.   Data, information and intelligence are the same.
4.   Competitive intelligence is spying.
5.   There’s no information on private companies.
6.   The best information comes from my industry.
7.   Information is free.
8.   Information costs too much.
9.   Not every decision requires competitive intelligence
10.  Competitive intelligence is a waste of time.
11.  You cannot use software for CI. Software can gather and organize info – to a limited extent – but it cannot do the analysis of a seasoned, experienced, sophisticated businessperson.

Q: Why do you feel statistics, facts and forecasts are the wrong tools for gauging the future?

A: There are no statistics or facts about the future. Statistics and facts are very useful for providing an understanding of what has happened, for providing a foundation for understanding a company or industry or product. We can forecast the near future for planning purposes, as long as we understand the likelihood of their not being accurate.

No one has more statistical information or formulas for analyzing them than do economists and stockbrokers – and yet they can’t get it right. How can the rest of us, with far more limited tools available to us, hope to have accurate forecasts? So, as long as we understand their limitations, they will be useful – just not likely to be true.

Part of the reason we cling to forecasts is that they provide comfort. It’s a hard number that won’t be challenged, in comparison to an idea or opinion. The 1950s were a period of relative stability and expected growth, so it was far, far easier to forecast fairly accurately. Somehow, we’ve never let go of that belief, even for those who weren’t in the work force during that period. We want to be able to forecast and to get a sense of our future.

I have dozens of headlines from the mainstream newspapers with the following words in their headlines, “unexpected,” “lower than,” “surprising.” These all indicate that what was predicted by the experts just didn’t happen. And it doesn’t – not in a changing world, and what industry isn’t changing.

The reality is that few businesspeople recognize the changes that are happening in their industry, and when they do point to changes, they’re ones that have been happening for decades, such as more technology, faster, more convenient. But they rarely know about the changes that provide opportunities.

Q: What are the key indicators of change, opportunity and potential threats?

A: Differences. Change refers to something that’s different. So, any observation of what doesn’t fit or isn’t the same is ripe for consideration of an opportunity or threat. I counsel my clients to pay attention to surprises, as well as info that’s contradictory or unconventional, or challenges assumptions. This is the info that is typically ignored, laughed at, or underestimate. But it’s virtually always a first sign of market changes.

Q: Businesspeople typically are apprehensive about uncertainty.  What’s an example of your principle, “surprise to avoid surprise?”

A: Customers who don’t fit your target profile. Virtually all businesses have customers who don’t match who the company thinks buys their products. They could be women or teens or rural dwellers, or people whose income is below $25,000, etc. Businesses are still stuck in defining their customers according to demographics. That’s useful – to a limited extent.

The book, “The Millionaire Next Door,” clearly painted a picture of wealthy individuals who have 10-year-old cars, and don’t buy jewelry or expensive cars. Yet, sellers of pricey items passionately believe that it’s the wealthy who have the means to buy their products. The reality is that your customers are those who want your product or service, not those who can afford it.

Q: What’s your philosophy on determining if changes are fads or trends?

A: I have studied the definitions of fads vs. trends – and while the matrix comparing them is reasonable, I would be hard-pressed to identify anything as a fad. Virtually all fads last several years, so while they may not have staying power, they’re not gone in a few months or a year, as most people think of fads.

On the other hand, when I ask people for trends in their industry, they mention things that have been going on for years and often for decades, such as more technology, faster, more convenient, etc. The point here is that most trends are facts, because people don’t recognize trends until they’ve been happening for years. They will categorize virtually anything that’s different from conventional wisdom as a trend, when it’s really a fact. This could include customers who don’t fit the profile.

Think about people older than 50. Their purchases or activities are constantly and still referred to as something new or different, when the reality is that it’s been true for decades. Many of the attention that boomers have been getting are things that people over 80 have been doing for decades – dating, having sex, exercising, working, etc. Not new, but many refer to it as a trend.

Q: What do you consider the importance of substitute and indirect competitors and the danger of focusing on competitors?

A: Any customer or prospect who buys a product or service from a company that is not a direct competitor, is a substitute or indirect competitor. For example, if you need a financial planner, but had a bad experience with one in the past and refuse to use another one, you might get your needs met from a wide variety of other companies – such as banks, lawyer, accountant, and software, etc.

Now, a financial planner will not consider any of these to be competitors. But if they lose business to a lawyer, the lawyer is their competitor for that particular service. The important thing to recognize is why is a non-industry professional getting the business? This is the key to satisfying customers. The financial planner will usually refer to price, but in industry after industry that we have investigated, price is virtually third or fourth in importance. It’s only first when the companies have not differentiated themselves, so that to the customer, all seem the same.

Q: What else would you like to add?

A: CI is not gathering data, and it’s not focusing on competitors. It’s going way, way, way beyond that to gaining insight and perspective about a world that is constantly changing and changing in unexpected ways.

The value from CI should save far more money than the investment, such as hiring an accountant to do your taxes. CI tells you – in advance – what you will discover later. The reality always presents itself. It’s just a matter of when you want to learn it.

Disclosure: Not only is she authoritative, Ms. Sharp is a fun consultant with whom to work as I’ve known her many years.

From the Coach’s Corner, want more of her insights? See this article: Hottest Tactics to Beat Your Competitors

“I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.”

-Walt Disney


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 

Hottest Tactics to Beat Your Competitors


Effective uses of competitive intelligence are the hottest tactics to beat your competitors.

It’s important for businesses to closely monitor their marketing, pricing, and costs. In facing financial issues, many businesses are too quick to cut costs in marketing and human resources.

One of the first questions businesspeople ask me: “How do I affordably find out what my competitors’ prices are?”

My typical answer: “Use your salespeople to talk with your former customers, present customers, and the people who buy from your competitors.”

Not to be gauche as a business-performance consultant, my best-practice answer is to hire a competent outside-participant to learn customers’ attitudes.

A hot topic: Since early 2009, it seems all we have heard about is social media and connecting with customers.

With the increasing popularity of social-media, it is helpful for business success. It takes a savvy staff or outside experts to listen and engage prospective customers in the marketplace.

That’s why big companies have become astute in social-media strategies and they invest in competitive intelligence. But they do not divulge what they learn. As a result, competitive intelligence is still a relatively unknown best-practice in business, especially for small to medium-size companies.

Not to criticize, but that’s partly true because a lot of practitioners in competitive intelligence are great at what they do, but they don’t adequately explain their services.

Many small to medium size businesses owners assume competitive intelligence is simply the art of understanding business adversaries. Not true.

To use an analogy, designing speedy tactics to beat business competitors is a lot like sports, especially track. The surest way for runners to lose in a competitive race is to look over their shoulder.

Yes, many businesspeople tend to look over their proverbial shoulder. They are too worried about a competitor instead of running their best race.

Author’s insights

A leading competitive intelligence consultant, Seena Sharp, agrees.  She wrote the book on competitive intelligence: “Competitive Intelligence Advantage: How to Minimize Risk, Avoid Surprises, and Grow Your Business in a Changing World.”

She says focusing on competitors is a misguided approach.

“A far better strategy is to monitor and deeply understand the marketplace which is constantly changing,” says Ms. Sharp. “Competitors are just one piece of the puzzle and you need all the pieces.”

She points out success does not result from outsmarting competitors.

“Success is a direct result of giving the customer what they want,” adds the author. “You don’t need competitors for that.”

Her examples:

“If so, then why would another restaurant open? Do we really need another place to get hamburgers or pizza or coffee?  Business is not a zero-sum game, so beating competitors still may not bring you the results you seek.”

Ms. Sharp contends competitors may not be direct competitors from your industry.

“They may specialize in a different industry but still offer what some customers want,” she explains. “The most important thing to learn from competitors (direct, indirect, new and substitute) is why are they attracting customers, customers who could be yours?”

Her advice: Learn how to respond to marketplace changes.

“Those changes today are likely to be unexpected, surprising, weird – and therefore, most likely to be ignored or underestimated,” says the author. “Take some time – a few weeks – to recognize more evidence of these changes and to consider what these changes mean.”

Finally, Ms. Sharp theorizes how companies unknowingly give away their power.

“Not necessarily a point for a brief article, but the highly reputed ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ stresses the importance of not being a me-too company, of not being a direct competitor,” she concludes. “I call it the anti-competitor strategy in my book.”

Of course, “Blue Ocean Strategy” is an award-winning, best-selling book by consultants W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.

Ms. Sharp’s Web site: Be sure to read her “SharpInsights.”

Another Biz Coach article featuring Ms. Sharp’s expert opinion: Competitive Intelligence Author Shares Her Insights

(Disclosure: I highly respect Ms. Sharp and have watched her for several years and I believe you can take anything she says to the bank.)

From the Coach’s Corner, related content to consider:

11 Sales Strategies to Outsell Your Big Competitors — Big companies have obvious advantages over small businesses. Their brands are well-known. They can afford sales training, sales-support staff and customer-relationship management software. On the other hand, there are good reasons why Cyber Monday has become big. Yes, many online customers do it to save money on sales taxes.

“It is of the highest importance in the art of detection to be able to recognize, out of a number of facts, which are incidental and which vital”.

-Sherlock Holmes



Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.


Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.