Market research vs. marketing research: What’s the difference?

Data is important to grow a business, but it’s always hard to start gathering data. There are multiple approaches and ways to start researching. In this article, we’ll discuss a couple of these approaches, namely, market research vs. marketing research, to clarify the difference between the two. 

  • Should you start with market research or marketing research? 
  • Is there any difference between market research and marketing research? 

While the terms “market research” and “marketing research” are often used interchangeably, both have their own unique scope. While market research helps identify your audience, marketing research guides your marketing strategy and operations. 

What is market research? 

Defining the difference between Market research vs. marketing research, this computer shows user data of a particular market.

Market research is all about market demand, consumption trends and your potential customers. It helps find what’s popular in the market by finding users’ likes, dislikes, and expectations. 

The main focus of market research is to identify and describe your ideal target audience — who they are, what they want, and if they will buy something. Your goal is to discover market opportunities, check the viability of an idea, and gather insights to improve an existing product. 

To understand better, let’s look at L’Oréal’s example. L’Oréal used market research to improve its foundation line in 2019. Though the product was successful, new competition was affecting sales. They wanted to understand why customers chose others and what they were looking for in a foundation. Market research helped them identify the most sought-after features and redefine their product line. 

The market research process involves interviewing your customers via questionnaires and surveys, which is sometimes referred to as “primary research”. While this can be extremely beneficial for your company, you might not have the resources or the time to conduct primary research. 

In that case, it is best to use publicly available information to conduct secondary research and gather insights by studying customer feedback and reviews online.

Primary and secondary research gives you data about your target audience’s preferences and expectations. It helps you understand the reasons that drive purchase decisions. 

Generally, market research happens before starting a new business or launching a product or service, but it should ideally be a continuous process to improve the existing proposition by studying:

  • Market size, consumption trends, and demand patterns
  • Information about the target audience 
  • Statistics to gauge the viability of success for a product or service

When done well, market research will help identify growth opportunities for any business. 

Read More: 5 Reasons Why Market Research is Important 

What is marketing research? 

Sticky notes on a white board during a meeting on marketing research.

Marketing research is much more extensive than market research and involves finding answers related to all the four P’s of marketing. It gathers data about customers as well as any data to support informed decision-making related to product, place, pricing, and promotion. 

Compared to market research, marketing research has broader implications and scope. It helps you to break biases and make data-driven decisions regarding: 

  • Product design and development 
  • Best promotion, marketing, and advertising channels 
  • Marketing copy and communication plan
  • How and where will customers find you
  • Pricing strategy 
  • Marketing process and standard operating procedures 

Marketing research helps create a synergy to attract, engage, convert, and delight your ideal customers. Research about distribution, marketing channels, pricing, and brand design are all examples of marketing research. 

If we revisit L’Oréal’s example, the brand refined brand copy and picked appropriate marketing channels using gathered data. Data from market research was used to decide about the choice of marketing channels, copywriting, campaign timings and formats, and more.  That was all marketing research at play. 

While market research is mostly about studying external trends and stakeholders, marketing research is more about strategizing success internally. Generally, marketing research comes after market research, and it helps in data-driven planning and execution. 

Market research vs. marketing research compared.

Market ResearchMarketing Research
What is it? Research about the industry, buyer behavior, and target audience’s preferences/needs. Study about improving the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing decisions. 
GoalTo measure market demand and validate a business or product idea. To facilitate informed decision-making for promoting a product or a service.
Useful forEarly-stage startups, entrepreneurs, founders, and marketing teams. Marketing, sales, promotions, and leadership teams. 
Scope Limited. Studies buyer behavior and market trends. Includes market size, competition, trends, segmentation, and demand identification. Broad. Covers research about all 4 Ps of marketing, including place, price, promotion, and product. Includes concept testing, advertising, distribution, pricing strategies, etc. 
FocusTargeted at finding insights specific to an industry or location. Broad focus aimed at solving macro-level marketing problems and issues. 

Market research or marketing research: Which one is best for you? 

As you already understand, market research is a subset of marketing research. Both offer vital information that impacts business decisions and outcomes. 

market research vs. marketing research
Market Research vs. Marketing Research

But what should you prioritize? 

If data is the new oil, then market research is your first step to digging an oil rig that keeps paying for itself. 

Start with market research if you’re just starting a business or thinking about expansion. This will give you information and data to decide whether you should pursue an idea or not. 

Market research will help you identify if there’s market demand for your product or service. Also, the data will help you make important decisions regarding your product, promotion, marketing and more. 

To build a successful data-driven business model, you should start spending time on market research. Not only will it help you validate your idea and discover new opportunities, but it will also fuel your marketing research efforts. 

Start collecting customer data now.

For a business owner, market research and marketing research are both critical and add value to your business. One helps you get in the minds of your customers, while the other helps expand your reach through strategic decision-making. 

Though each has its own scope and use case, customer insights are important for both market research and marketing research. Thankfully, with the internet at your disposal, you don’t have to waste hours or spend a lot of money to keep an eye on your target audience’s needs, find opportunities and validate your idea. 

You can start market research by simply looking at reviews. Then, use the data to discover market gaps and drive marketing decisions.

And if you want to make that process easier with artificial intelligence, then get started with GapScout today!

Ready to Automate Your Market Research?
Get exclusive access to GapScout prior to release!

Share this:

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.

The Best in Market Research

Market research tips & tools sent to your inbox.

By clicking Subscribe, you agree to our Terms and Conditions.

Get Early Access!

Sign up to get early beta access to GapScout before it becomes publicly available!

We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our website.