There is considerable debate about the difference between market research and marketing research. What is market research, what is marketing research, and what is different between the two? In this article, we are going to dive deeper into each of the two types and explain the difference between market research and marketing research clearly. A special focus will be on the concept of marketing research.
Let’s start with a definition of market research. Market research can be defined as the process of gathering, analysing and interpreting information about a market, about a product or service to be offered for sale in that market, and about the past, present and potential customers for the product or service. That is, research into the characteristics, spending habits, location and needs of a company’s target market, the industry as a whole, and the particular competitors the company faces (see Entrepreneur).
The basic aim of market research is to assess the viability of a new good or service and the attractiveness of a target market. It allows a company to discover a promising target market and understand consumer needs and wants.
Let’s now take a look at marketing research. Marketing research can be defined as the process of finding out about the market in which the firm hopes to succeed, and assessing all aspects of the firm’s marketing strategies and tactics.
In particular the first part may sound quite similar to the above defined market research process. In marketing research, however, also the firm’s marketing efforts are researched, meaning a slight change of perspective. To get this aspect a little bit more clear-cut, we will in the following investigate the difference between market research and marketing research.
Difference between Market Research and Marketing Research
There is considerable debate about the difference between market research and marketing research. The basic difference is that market research is concerned with investigating markets (customers, consumers, distribution, etc.) while marketing research is concerned with investigating any issues related to marketing (consumer behaviour, advertising effectiveness, salesforce effectiveness, etc. as well as everything contained in market research).
Marketing research therefore encompasses market research.
Breaking down Marketing Research
As said before, marketing research encompasses everything contained in market research. We will now take a closer look at the contents of marketing research by breaking it down into several components.
Marketing research breaks down into the following, separate components:
We will now investigate each of these six components of marketing research more closely.
Customer research is concerned with the motivation and behaviour of customers, their geographic and demographic spread, their number and spending power and their creditworthiness. It is mainly used for segmentation and targeting purposes, but is also useful for predicting trends and developing new products (NPD).
Advertising research is used to measure the success of advertising campaigns. The intention is to gain information about which media are most effective, which advertisements are most effective, and which messages reach through to customers best. Advertising research involves the perceptions of customers. Consequently, it overlaps considerably with customer research.
New products and new product ideas need to be tested on customers, sometimes at the concept stage and sometimes as prototypes. Product research provides information on which features and benefits are most appealing to customers, and can also provide information on competitors’ products. Packaging is further aspect of product research, since packaging provides some of the benefits of the product itself. Issues here include the extent to which the product is protected from the environment and vice versa, as well as the degree to which the design of the packaging appeals to distributors such as warehouses and retailers as well as consumers. Product research is an integral part of New Product Development.
Distribution research is concerned with finding the most effective distribution channels. Usually, the company (or the researchers) will be looking for retailers who are already active in the firm’s target market, and wholesalers who deal with the appropriate retailers.
Sales research aims to assess the effectiveness of individual salespeople, different sales techniques and different sales management methods. It can also be used to design sales territories to ensure that they are of equal potential. This goes beyond geographical size, as it also includes factors such as the number of potential customers, distances to travel within the territory and the overall wealth of the region.
Environment research is concerned with scanning the firm’s environment for potential threats and opportunities. This should be and usually is an ongoing process for most firms. Environment research looks at the social, political, economic and technological factors that might affect the firm and its brands in the future.