Watching the world go by: Environmental Scanning

How do YOU monitor the marketplace?

Some call this environmental scanning; others call it market analysis; and still others simply just call it keeping tabs on the world around you. However you want to refer to these factors that effect business, the important thing is to simply do it.


All too often, managers become stuck in the “ivory tower” of their offices, unaware of the changes taking place in the market. While I’m sure this must sound to some of you more like marketing, the important thing to remember is that we as managers must keep constant vigil of the changes happening in our world around us.

I’ve had numerous business managers and owners say “oh – it’s ok – I’m sure if something big happens, I’ll know it.”  The problem is, big things aren’t always tsunamis. Some “big” things start off as “small” things. Some “big competitors” start off as companies that were laughed off.  So here are some things to think about while pondering if or why you should consider environmental scanning.

Change. Stuff happens all the time. Not that long ago computers were luxuries. Now – hardly a business professional can do anything without their assistance. Change inevitably brings more change – speed, miniturization, power — they all are the results of change. Keeping up with things that are happening – even in the supporting technologies or services — of your industry is important.

Globalization.  A few years ago a friend of mine had started a business. His primary customer? In India. Customers aren’t just in your neighborhood these days. They can be all over the world if you stay open to constantly thinking about what business are you really in?

E-Everything. Ebusiness, Ecommerce, ecare… you name it. While your primary business may not be suited to providing your business over the web, are there other supporting activities that could be? or could you provide it mobily? Even if you just have a webpage that provides your firm’s location, hours, etc…. doing business on the web is too important to ignore, and is affecting industries who long thought they were immune to the internet revolution. It’s a whole different world.

Do you speak “d”? As in diversity?  No? Or you aren’t sure why you should care? Take a trip to your local grocery store and watch the sea of humanity go by: the aging population, obesity, a wide range of ethnic groups, languages, generational differences, religious influences…. each different population has it’s own cultures, values, beliefs, and attitudes. And both managers and marketers need to understand how the changing population is affecting who we hire and who we serve.

Doing the right thing. A friend of mine once joked that we should all have merit badges for work. If you are from the world of Scouting, you know that for each badge you earn you had to complete certain activities or “lessons” in order to earn that badge.  While there aren’t company merit badges aren’t the rage today, doing the right thing never goes out of vogue…. the effects of ethics can be felt throughout industry. Think about the mortgage crisis, political wranglings, price gauging… and how the misdeeds of others (financial fiascos) can affect people so far downstream (in ability to get small business fundng.) My advice: Environmental scanning is important for all sorts of reasons. Take a page from Nike: Just Do It.



Category: Market Research

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