market intelligence, for example, may signal which
of the alternative scenarios, if any, is unfolding and
thereby promote a timely response.
A shortage of reliable and readily available information is common in emerging markets. As noted
earlier, however, emerging markets are heterogeneous.
The sources and methods for market intelligence therefore require some modification before they can be
transferred from one emerging market to another. For
example, while primary sources and methods are important across all emerging markets, gaining access to
primary sources — such as interviewing distributors
and suppliers — requires different approaches in
different markets. In some markets, a formal written
request on company letterhead is necessary; in others,
gaining such access may require an honorarium to
compensate the interviewee for the time spent or a willingness to wait for an hour or more after the scheduled
interview time. For market intelligence on competitors,
distributors in some emerging markets are willing to
share information, including invoices from competitors. Distributors in certain other countries, however,
are reluctant and need to be convinced that they can
share only what they are comfortable sharing.
In emerging markets where traditional trade is
dominant and urbanization is low, aggregating sales
data is vastly more difficult and time-consuming than
where urbanization and penetration of modern
retailers is high. With the necessary modifications,
however, multinational corporations should be able
to leverage market intelligence practices across
emerging markets. 20 (See “A Checklist for Obtaining
Good Market Intelligence.”) Organizing market
intelligence as a shared responsibility between corporate and country managers — and using a wide
range of sources and methods — will enable multinational corporations to obtain and use the market
intelligence necessary to succeed.
Murali D.R. Chari is an associate professor of management at the Lally School of Management at
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.
Kimberlee Luce is senior vice president at Boston
Analytics in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Inder Thukral
is CEO of Boston Analytics. Comment on this article
at http://sloanreview.mit.edu/x/58208, or contact the
authors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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