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    Approaches to gather information on competition

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    Evaluate each of the following approaches that a business firm could use to gather information about competition. For each approach, mark your feeling about its appropriateness using the following scale:

    1. definitely not appropriate, 2. probably not appropriate, 3. undecided, 4. probably appropriate, and 5. definitely appropriate

    The business firm should try to get useful information about competitors by:

    _____ Careful study of trade journals

    _____ Wiretapping the telephones of competitors

    _____ Posing as a potential customer to competitors

    _____ Getting loyal customers to put out a phone "request for proposal" soliciting competitors' bids

    _____ Buying competitors' products and taking them apart

    _____ Hiring management consultants who have worked for competitors

    _____ Rewarding competitors' employees for useful "tips"

    _____ Questioning competitors' customers and/or suppliers

    _____ Buying and analyzing competitors' garbage

    _____ Advertising and interviewing for nonexistent jobs

    _____ Taking public tours of competitors' facilities

    _____ Releasing false information about the company in order to confuse competitors.

    _____ Questioning competitors' technical people at trade shows and conferences

    _____ Hiring key people away from competitors

    _____ Analyzing competitors' labor union contracts

    _____ Having employees date persons who work for competitors

    _____ Studying aerial photographs of competitors' facilities

    After marking each of the preceding approaches, indicate on the discussion board for any 5, 4, 2, or 1, why you thought these acts were either appropriate or inappropriate.

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    Solution Preview

    Please see the attached file for a cleaner version of the answer.

    ( 5 ) Careful study of trade journals - this is very appropriate, if not the best solution. This information is available to the public, and anyone could view it.

    ( 1 ) Wiretapping the telephones of competitors - this is probably even illegal. This is very inappropriate, and if you are caught, you will probably be sued, and your credibility will be ruined

    ( 3 ) Posing as a potential customer to competitors - this is a grey area. There is an industry called corporate espionage, where there are actually employees that go gather info from other companies by posing as potential clients. Thought this is legal, it is considered to be quite "weasel like." This occurs often in large stores like grocery stores, WalMart... I was once in a grocery store in Russia and I wanted to take pictures, and out of no where, a security guard come over and told me in Russian that I was not able to take pictures. I assume he thought that I was a corporate spy.

    ( 2 ) Getting loyal customers to put out a phone "request for proposal" soliciting competitors' bids. It is very unprofessional to get your loyal clients involved in soliciting information about the competition. This might drive your customers away, and you might get a negative reputation.

    ( ...

    Solution Summary

    This posting looks at several ways that a firm gathers information about their competition, and asks the reader to rate them on a scale of appropriateness. The posting gives an evaluation of the degree of what is appropriate, and provides strong rational behind the rating system.