Market intelligence is critical to marketing strategy planning for any business. While considerable study has been made of the intelligence‐gathering practices of large corporations, very little research has been reported focusing on the competitive information activities of small businesses. The research involved a survey of small business owners and managers in South Carolina, USA. The study addressed three questions: What market intelligence practices do small businesses use? What market intelligence practices do they think their competitors use? How important is market intelligence to small businesses? The market intelligence practices most frequently used are observing competitors and talking with suppliers or delivery people. Small business owners were least likely to use practices such as job interviews or hiring competitors′ employees to gain information. Respondents perceived their competitors as being more likely to pursue market intelligence activities. If a firm used a specific practice, they thought their competitors did also. Among small business owners market intelligence does not appear to be a critical management concern.
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