In most markets, firms’ ability to maintain a competitive edge can be greatly enhanced if they are able to intelligently position themselves in response to evolving market trends. Their ability to do so can be increased by having access to up-to-date market data, such as developments in raw material prices, trends in downstream pricing, volumes being sold into the market, statistics on levels of imports and exports, levels of R&D investment and so on. In response, suppliers of market research information and raw market data statistics increasingly offer for sale data sets focused on specific markets and market segments, offering varying levels of statistics and data covering a range of variables. In addition, many firms seek to proactively benchmark their performance (on a range of parameters) against that of comparable firms, in an effort to identify ‘best practice’, to the mutual benefit of participating firms. Indeed, one of the preconditions of a perfectly competitive market (highly fragmented on the supply and demand sides) is that suppliers and customers have complete information on prevailing competitive conditions on the assumption that the better informed rivals are about each other’s pricing and marketing strategies, the more intensely they will compete with each other.