Market research compared to other research strategies

Everyone is busy preaching some method, viral hack, or strategy to grow a business. Wherever you go — TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter, all talk about their successes with entrepreneurship. But you do not buy their story right away. You compare your options and perform market research before you start something.

Through all the mad hype around wannapreneurship, one thing is clear — you cannot just start a generic, run-off-the-mill business and expect to become a millionaire. You need a deep understanding of the market to stand out. You can use many different methods and approaches to gather and analyze information about your market, and it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. 

But what is the best approach to research? Are all business research efforts the same? We have compiled this article to unearth some fundamental ideas around market research and help you make an informed decision. 

Market Research vs. Marketing Research

market research compared on paper to marketing research.

If you have been running the show for a while, you would have confused these terms at least once. Not to worry because the overlap is quite evident (and confusing). 

If we compare both, market research is about your audience, while marketing research is more about your decisions to engage your audience. Here is a simple comparison table to clear some air. 

Source: Market Research vs Marketing Research 

Market research is a focused activity explicitly targeted at your core audience. While marketing research is a larger superset of market research that involves understanding customers and driving informed decision-making across your business. 

Keen to find out more? Read our detailed blog about the difference between market research vs marketing research

Market Research vs. User Research

While marketing research is a broad activity compared to market research, there are other granular approaches, like user research. User research is a strategic research activity focused on how users use and feel about a product. 

Market Research vs User Research

Market Research User Research
MeaningIdentifying and analyzing who is your target audience and understanding what they want. Focusing on gathering feedback to improve existing users’ product and user experience. 
GoalFinding what the audience wants from a productExploring how the product can be improved 
FocusMarket trends, industry trends, competitors, and macro-level indicatorsUser behavior and attitude
Output/End ResultMarket size, customer demographics, customer needs and preferences, competitive analysisUser needs, behavior, usability issues, design recommendations

While market research is targeted at the broad and overall macro trends, user research is micro-research targeted at the existing users of the product. User research is mainly done as one-on-one interviews or surveys, directly with the end users and comes at a later stage — usually towards finding a product-market fit or during a pivot.

Read More: Market Research vs User Research: What’s the difference? 

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Market Research

Comparing qualitative research and quantitative research on paper.

Market research can also be of multiple types, based on your approach. Though most market research is quantitative, some aspects, like sentiment analysis through customer reviews, can be seen as a part of qualitative market research. Here are the major differences between qualitative and quantitative market research: 

Qualitative vs Quantitative Market Research

Qualitative Market Research Quantitative Market Research
MeaningMarket research is done to understand the ‘why’ behind people’s choices — basically focused on understanding consumer behavior on a granular level. Market research is done to capture statistics, numerical figures, and close-ended answers to generate insights. 
ScopeSecondary or indirect approach to gathering a large amount of data.Primary or direct approach to gathering granular level data directly from consumers.
GoalUnderstand the reasons behind specific consumer behavior, market trends, or patterns.To find out the ‘what’ to drive decision-making related to a new product, category, or industry. 
FocusUnderstanding the underlying causes/reasons behind specific customer/audience behavior. Gathering standardized or structured data to validate a hypothesis or core idea. 
Output/End ResultStrategic data pool to unearth more profound insights, often driving further user research or product development decisions. Large data pool that can be analyzed to understand ‘what’ people want. 

While quantitative research can help you move in the right direction, qualitative research will guide you towards future scalability. Both are essential for your business. You need to prioritize quantitative research before you try to understand the reasons and the ‘why’ behind user behavior

Industry Research vs. Market Research

Many entrepreneurs confuse market research with industry research because many online coaches compare and use both terms interchangeably. But in the context of business research, both market research and industry research are different. Sure, there is some overlap between the two, but there are striking differences, too, like the following: 

Market Research Industry Research
MeaningResearch the audience and customers to know what they want from a product/service. Researching the overall industry, including the size of the industry, key players, prevailing trends, growth opportunities, and competitors, on a macro-level
ScopeLimited to immediate target market and potential product or service users.  Limited to competitors, key players, and macro-level trends that affect the category. 
GoalTo know what the customers want and make informed business decisions. To discover prevailing opportunities, pitch to investors, and explore future growth possibilities.
FocusYour audience or target customersCompetitors, key players, and other businesses in the same space 
Key ElementsMarket Size, Demographics, Psychographics, Consumer Behavioral TrendsKey Players, Growth Factors and Figures, Trends, and Competitors
End Result Better understanding of the target market for defining brand positioning, marketing strategy, and other decisions. Understanding macro-level trends to plan a pivot, scale, explore an opportunity or get hold of SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) metrics. 

While market research is always about your customers, industry research is more about key players in the market, industry growth, trends, and competition. Both types of research are a standard part of any business plan. So, if you are looking for an investor (or even funding from the bank), you will need help conducting market and industry research. 

Market Research vs. Product Research 

Market research graphs on a paper.

While you might feel like a research wizard reading all this information by now, stay patient and read about this one. You probably have already been acing this one but have yet to learn how it is compared to market research.

Yes, it is about product research — everything around your product idea, what your product is, whether it is technologically viable, how much it will cost, and more. Market research deals more with external factors, while product research is more like an introspection. 

But do not yet confuse it with user research — user research comes at a much later stage. Let us look at how product research differs from others on this list: 

Market ResearchProduct Research
MeaningGathering and analyzing insights to know what your audience wants and using the knowledge to drive overall business decisions. Gathering information to define the product’s purpose and create a customer-centric product roadmap. 
ScopeThe industry and target audience in general, specifically people who would be ideal users of your products. Existing product users, your competitor’s users, and target audience, collectively depending on the stage of product development. 
GoalUnderstand what people want from your product and position it in sync with their expectations. To become as customer-centric as possible regarding product features and use cases. 
FocusMaking data-backed business decisions across marketing, product development, pricing, and other aspects. Aligning user requirements and long-term business growth goals. 
Output/End ResultStrategic data insights about user expectations that can be used for future decision-making. Customer-centric product roadmap. 

While you must have many plans and ideas regarding your product, documenting them is crucial for success. Your product research document will help you understand how to sync market demand with your product features, thus improving your odds of success. 

Everything starts with Market Research. Start Now

Research is the fundamental activity that you need to be strong at if you’re dreaming of succeeding as an entrepreneur. While each research method has its scope and goals, you must realize everything revolves around your audience.

Any idea or product can fly if you make your audience happy, relatable, and add value. So, market research is something you should pay attention to moving forward. 

Also Read: 

If research feels like a mundane chore to you, technology can help. You can now use AI to conduct market research with a tool like GapScout. 

GapScout helps gather insights from around the world and present them as actionable insights without you needing to lift a finger. Amazed? Try it out now.

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Anmol Sachdeva
Anmol Sachdeva
Anmol is an independent content marketing consultant who loves to write actionable pieces on small business growth, marketing automation, market research, and growth as a solopreneur. Reach out on Twitter.

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