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Market research versus marketing research - Marketing Planet

Marketing Planet

Market research versus marketing research

Market research and marketing research are often used together, mixing its fields and understanding. This approach is dangerous for its success because of your expectations and the way both need to be carried out.

The differences in approach

Both market research and marketing research have their definitions. By well reading these definitions it will become clear what type of research is needed:

  • Should you require qualified data on your own offer (product and services) or your current customers, then the marketing research will apply.
  • Should you require more information on the market situation, non current customers or linked offers (competitive or substitutes) you’d direct your research to market research.

Inside - outside

It can be stated that when information is linked to the inside only of the company, marketing research will do. For information regarding the company’s environment, market research is more adapted. This outside type of information obtained from market research is especially appropriate when detecting new markets. As a result, an offer that already exists on the market can have its appreciation studied by the use of marketing research.

Quantify or qualify

Other means of separating both types of research is by choosing between quantitative qualitative understandings.

Market research will provide more global information - often carried out in panels and grouped studies combining questions from companies in the same environment. For this reason it is possible to obtain more general information and on a larger scale. The questions however remain on an overall level and may require further – in depth- study afterwards.

Market research can more easily be carried out by an external company since more global data are required such as:

  • country specifications
  • market potential and accessibility
  • overall customer information (who, what, where, when and how)

Marketing research, as stated, gives rather a more in-depth information on your offer and customers. Examples are:

  • interviews
  • tests of offer with direct feedback
  • follow-up of the consumer and its behavior

Results are more detailed and richer but as a consequence, less in number and more costly. Depending on the scope of the research, they can also be more subjective and difficult to be fully applicable to the market.

All gathered information is done in the aim of better understanding its appreciation and reasons for choosing your offer (and in certain cases understanding why not choosing your offer). It will provide a way to keep a close eye to your offer and provide a follow-up. When carrying out the marketing research from the inside of your company, it can be used directly as a sales team motivation and feedback.


The discussion is ongoing whether both market research and marketing research are useful to a company. The reason for this discussion is due to the difficulty to state its success. Some companies reckon there is no need for any research in their activity. They have never carried any out and never will. They may be right until the day their business environment changes and they have not seen the change arrive and are unable to react. A research might have made the difference.

The importance of the research is not only the outcome but in a preceding stage, the parameters of the research:

  • In case of a market research, a maximum of the parameters should remain stable as to enable comparisons with previous results as well as with future ones. In case of marketing studies, it is important to state the parameters as to study the details that are to be analysed in comparison with the problem or issue.

The use of the results is another important element that can vary the success of the research:

  • Results may remain in a closed box and not be treat because the importance is not shared by the team. The results may also be presented but may not find any interest or considered undesirable with the management and will be left aside without any follow-up. Result: loss of money and time.
  • The results are statistics and can be read in the way we like, thus passing not necessarily the right message. The action that will be taken is not the most suitable. Result: possible risk for the company and its position.
  • The results are studied and require more information for confirmation of next action to follow. This would be the right approach notwithstanding the importance of acting when appropriate (timing) and avoiding influence (decisions that are maybe already taken by management, costs).
  • There is also the possibility that the research was carried out and analysed as required but that no funds are available to conduct the action to follow. Result: no action and loss of time and cost.

Depending on your needs and expectations for any research, market or marketing, its success depends on the correct use of the type of research, its preparation and the use of its results. Whereas some markets may move very quickly, the research should not be prepared in a rush when you want it to be correct.