Scoping for Competitive Intelligence — what to look for?

Cosmic Paladin
4 min readJan 15, 2022


When you set out to gather intelligence about your competitors, things can get hazy if you don’t get a fix on “what” to look for, “how much” to look for and “when” to look for. Too less information can cripple you from taking decisions, too much can not just confuse you but misguide you too — the path is paved with perils, but if you get your cards right the ride will be productive for sure!

What’s their vision & positioning?

So often overlooked or missed, this is a crucial first step many miss out on. A competitors vision tells a lot about their aspirations, type of markets and customers they are after, problems they want to solve & core philosophies, to say the least. A clear understanding of this will help you “anticipate” the moves they will make about the product range, pricing and launches. Take Nike for example — Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.

Products — past, present & future

To know what the competition is currently selling is no brainer, to build a sense of the overlaps or gaps that you want to fix within your product range. But digging into what they sold in the past & why were they discontinued reveals a lot more about them, plus steps they’d take and newer products they’d add in the future. Take Samsung for example — the iconic Galaxy Note is discontinued. Why? What will come in lieu of it? Building the product assortments is super crucial

The Competitive Intel Engine & its important gears

Marketing & Advertisements

Keywords, advertisements, creatives constructs and their cadence- reveal many important things — user segments they are after, mass vs niche targeting, strength and even weaknesses (smartly masked of course!), alignment or the lack there of, with their vision, budgets they may be holding, knacks and frameworks adopted towards launches — to name a few. Take Apple for example — Huge hoardings with pictures taken from their phone. No mention of price or specifications. Just a line that reads — Shot on iPhone vs Mi who will ensure the price to specs ratio is bold and in the eye

Strategic & exclusive partnerships

Partnerships happen for multiple reasons and come in many forms. Can be another firm or a brand for one or more products and product ranges, can be specific celebrities who may stand for certain notions, or even acquisitions to widen reach, and the range of money spent towards these. All of these happen towards a specific longterm objective set, getting closer to which reveals a lot about the competition. Example — Gucci partnering with Samsung, Salesforce acquiring Slack

Price Price Price

This is the most complicated aspect to figure, though it looks pretty easy and straight forward on the face of it. This is because pricing has many different layers and dimensions to it. As much as possible, you or the competitors would want to conceal the pricing from each other but can never be done. Hence many layers are introduced between what is shown to open domains and the finally tally when things go ka-ching! Commonalities in the form of merchants, business models and such can provide limited information

  • Identifying the aspects that drive “dyanamic” pricing
  • Differences if any in pricing at the brand side vs competitiors, and prospect reasons why
  • Premium users, advantages they have on pricing & related timing
  • Discounts, coupons, first time purchase advantages
  • Credit card & EMI purchase advantages
  • Shipping related inclusions or exclusions in pricing
  • Discounts on recurring purchases, bundling, minimum purchasing rules
  • Extent of changes across variants of the same product
  • Zipcode based changes in pricing

While the above isn’t an exhaustive list, these are certainly the top ones that must go into your fancy MLs handling all the math underneath. All of this, across perpetual time-series

Them good merchants

Regardless of what clubs they play for, millions follow Messi or Ronaldo where they go. I hate Manchester United but I watch them for Ronaldo. The best vendors are like Messi or Ronaldo. Identify them and get them — as many as possible. Having good citizens on your platform not only brings many users who will be loyal, but will also give you a rise in the overall CSAT ratings. Move them into platform exclusivity contracts for an even better life

The Product Catalog

Remember how customers walk-into a store based on how right and attractive your window-shopping asthmatics are? Same holds good for your product catalogs. Bring in a mix of UX familiarity from the competitors to having elements of niche and uniqueness that will define your identity. Time the changes well and in the right amount. Layer visuals and text right in the purchase funnels


Customer build shopping patterns and time their purchases. Some during festivals some during certain events such as sports or family related. Leverage on these to know what competitors are offering — what types of campaigns? who exactly are they offered to? for how long? what type of advantages? . Missing on these crucial times to build a competitive edge can make or break your business

… and there are and will be more. Each of the headers deserve a deep-deep dives. Leveraging data gathering platforms, building the right ML frameworks, encountering surprises that knowledge graphs can deliver — all of this will define the “hunger” to build competitive edge! More on these in the coming posts !