Market Research vs Marketing Research: What sets them apart?

by Signe Hegart
September 25, 2023

When it comes to understanding your customers and making informed business decisions, market research and marketing research are two important tools you can use. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to different aspects of gathering information and analyzing data. In this blog post, we will explore the differences between market research vs marketing research to help companies using rewards and market research incentives across departments make the most of these valuable tools.

Market research vs Marketing research?

Market research is the process of collecting and analyzing data about a specific market, including its size, trends, and competition. It helps companies gain insights into the needs and preferences of their target audience, as well as identify opportunities and threats in the market. Market research can be conducted through various methods, such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, and observation.

On the other hand, marketing research focuses on gathering information about customers, products, and marketing activities to support the development and execution of marketing strategies. It delves deeper into understanding consumer behavior, preferences, and buying habits, in order to create effective marketing campaigns and initiatives. Marketing research can involve techniques like customer surveys, data analysis, experiments, and competitive analysis.

Key takeaway of Market Research vs. Marketing Research

In essence, while both types of research are critical for businesses, market research provides a broader view of the external market landscape, helping businesses understand the market environment they operate in. In contrast, marketing research hones in on specific marketing initiatives and their impact on customers, allowing businesses to fine-tune their strategies and tactics for maximum effectiveness.

Related: 60 Market Research Firms For Maximizing Your ROI

Rewards and incentives 🎁

For companies using rewards and incentives across departments like gift cards, market research can help identify target markets and consumer segments that are most likely to respond positively to rewards and incentives. It can provide insights into what motivates customers to engage with a brand and make a purchase, allowing companies to tailor their rewards and incentives programs accordingly.

Marketing research, on the other hand, can help companies understand how their rewards and incentives programs are performing and how they can be optimized. By gathering information about customer satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty, marketing research can identify areas for improvement and help companies make data-driven decisions to enhance their rewards and incentives initiatives.

By combining market research and marketing research, companies can develop a comprehensive understanding of their target audience, market trends, and the effectiveness of their rewards and incentives programs. This information can then be used to create personalized and impactful strategies that drive customer engagement, loyalty, and ultimately, business growth.

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Resemblance between Market Research vs Marketing Research

  • Purpose: Both market research and marketing research aim to gather information and insights to support decision-making in business and marketing strategies.

  • Data Collection: Both types of research involve the collection of data, which can be done through various methods such as surveys, interviews, observations, and data analysis.

  • Consumer Insights: Both types of research focus on understanding consumer behavior, preferences, and needs. They seek to answer questions like, “Who are our customers?” and “What do they want?”

  • Competitor Analysis: Both market research and marketing research involve studying competitors in the industry. This includes analyzing their strategies, strengths, weaknesses, and market positioning.

  • Information Sources: Both fields rely on a wide range of information sources, including primary data (collected directly) and secondary data (existing data from various sources, such as industry reports, government statistics, and market studies).

  • Decision Support: Both types of research provide valuable insights to help organizations make informed decisions about product development, pricing, promotion, distribution, and overall marketing strategies.

  • Goal Alignment: Both are aligned with the overarching goal of improving a company’s performance and competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Read also about Research Incentives

Differences between Market Research vs Marketing Research

  • Scope: Market research typically focuses on understanding the broader market environment, including market size, trends, and potential opportunities. Marketing research is more concerned with specific marketing activities and strategies, such as advertising effectiveness, product development, and pricing.

  • Timing: Market research often takes place before marketing research. Market research helps identify market opportunities and assess overall market conditions, while marketing research is more focused on implementing and evaluating marketing tactics.

  • Depth of Analysis: Marketing research tends to involve a deeper and more specific analysis of marketing-related issues, such as the impact of a particular advertising campaign or the effectiveness of a new product launch.

  • Implementation: Market research guides high-level strategic decisions, while marketing research is often used to fine-tune and optimize marketing tactics on a day-to-day basis.

6 things that have changed Market and Marketing Research over years

Over the years, market and marketing research have evolved significantly due to advancements in technology and changes in consumer behavior. Here are some key changes:

creating a program

Data collection

With the advent of the internet and social media, data collection has become easier and more efficient. Companies can now gather large amounts of data on consumer preferences, behavior, and demographics through online surveys, social media monitoring, and website analytics.

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning

The use of AI and machine learning has revolutionized market and marketing research. These technologies can analyze vast amounts of data, identify patterns, and generate insights in real-time. This enables companies to make data-driven decisions quickly and accurately.


With the abundance of data available, market and marketing research now focus on personalization. Companies can tailor their marketing strategies and offerings to individual consumer preferences, resulting in more effective and targeted campaigns.

Mobile research

The widespread use of smartphones has led to an increase in mobile research. Companies now have the ability to reach consumers anytime, anywhere, and gather real-time data on their experiences and interactions.

Ethnographic Research

Ethnographic research, which involves observing and understanding consumer behavior in their natural environments, has gained popularity. This approach provides deeper insights into consumer needs, motivations, and preferences, allowing companies to develop more customer-centric strategies.

Social Listening

Social media has become a treasure trove of consumer insights. Companies can use social listening tools to monitor conversations, sentiment, and trends related to their brand and industry. This helps them understand consumer perception, identify potential issues, and respond in a timely manner.

Read also: Research Participant Compensation: Unlocking the Power of Rewards

Data collections role in both market research and marketing research

Data collection is a fundamental and crucial aspect of both market research and marketing research. It serves as the foundation for gathering information, insights, and knowledge to inform decision-making and strategies. Here’s how data collection plays a role in each of these research fields:

Market Research

  1. Understanding Market Dynamics: Market research aims to understand the broader market landscape. Data collection helps gather information about market size, growth trends, market segmentation, and consumer behaviors. This data assists businesses in comprehending the dynamics of the market in which they operate.

  2. Competitive Analysis: Data collection is vital for assessing competitors. This includes gathering information on competitors’ products, pricing, marketing strategies, and market share. It helps companies identify their competitive advantages and potential areas for improvement.

  3. Customer Profiling: Market research often involves creating detailed customer profiles. Data collection methods like surveys, interviews, and focus groups help in gathering demographic, psychographic, and behavioral information about target customers. This, in turn, assists in crafting marketing strategies that resonate with the intended audience.

  4. Trend Analysis: Collecting data on market trends, consumer preferences, and emerging technologies is essential for staying ahead of the competition. Market research tracks these trends, helping businesses adapt their products and services accordingly.

  5. Geographic Data: In market research, geographic data can be crucial. It involves collecting information related to geographic regions, such as population density, distribution, and location-specific trends. This is valuable for location-based marketing and expansion strategies.

Marketing Research

  1. Consumer Behavior Analysis: Marketing research delves deeper into consumer behavior. Data collection allows marketers to understand how consumers make purchasing decisions, what influences their choices, and their response to different marketing strategies.

  2. Product Development: Marketers use data collection to gather feedback on existing products and services, as well as ideas for new ones. This feedback guides product development and innovation.

  3. Pricing Strategies: Collecting data on consumer price sensitivity, willingness to pay, and price perception helps marketers optimize pricing strategies, such as setting the right price point or offering discounts.

  4. Advertising and Promotion: Data collection is integral to assessing the effectiveness of advertising campaigns, promotions, and marketing channels. Marketers use various data sources, including social media analytics, website traffic data, and customer surveys to measure the impact of their efforts.

  5. Customer Feedback: Marketers collect customer feedback through surveys, reviews, and feedback forms to continuously improve the customer experience, identify areas for enhancement, and address customer concerns.

  6. Market Segmentation: Data collection plays a key role in segmenting the market based on factors like demographics, psychographics, and behavioral patterns. This enables marketers to tailor their messaging and strategies to different customer segments.

In both market research and marketing research, data collection is a dynamic process that involves a range of methodologies, such as surveys, interviews, observations, focus groups, online analytics, and secondary data analysis. The quality and relevance of the collected data are critical for making informed decisions and crafting effective marketing strategies, whether it’s for understanding the broader market landscape or honing in on specific marketing tactics.

How can Market Research be used to improve marketing strategies? 📈

Market research plays a crucial role in improving marketing strategies. It enables companies to gather valuable insights and data about their target audience, competitors, and industry trends. By utilizing market research, companies can make informed decisions and develop effective marketing strategies. Here are some ways market research can be used to improve marketing strategies:

1. Understanding the target audience: Market research helps companies gain a deeper understanding of their target audience’s demographics, attitudes, preferences, and buying behavior. This information allows companies to tailor their marketing messages and campaigns to better resonate with their target audience, resulting in more effective marketing strategies.

2. Identifying market opportunities and trends: Through market research, companies can identify emerging market trends, consumer needs, and untapped opportunities. By staying updated on industry developments, companies can adapt their marketing strategies to capitalize on these opportunities and stay ahead of their competitors.

3. Assessing brand perception: Market research allows companies to gauge how their target audience perceives their brand. By conducting surveys, focus groups, or online reviews, companies can gather feedback and identify areas for improvement. This insight can help shape marketing strategies that align with the desired brand image and improve brand perception.

4. Evaluating competition: By conducting competitive analysis, companies can gain insights into their competitors’ marketing strategies, strengths, weaknesses, and market positioning. This information enables companies to refine their own marketing strategies, differentiate themselves from competitors, and take advantage of gaps in the market.

5. Testing marketing campaigns and strategies: Market research provides companies with the opportunity to test their marketing campaigns and strategies before launching them on a larger scale. By conducting surveys, focus groups, or A/B testing, companies can gather feedback and evaluate the effectiveness of their marketing materials, messages, and tactics. This allows them to make necessary adjustments and improvements to optimize their marketing strategies for maximum impact.

Related: Market Research Panels: Everything You Need To Know And More

Most used quantitative methods in Market Research in 2023

The actual numbers

Used regularly Used occasionally
Online surveys 85%9%
Mobile surveys 47%33%
Proprietary panels32% 31%
Online communities 26%38%
Automated measured7%14%
Neuroscience measurements4%24%
Bio metrics3%15%
Other techniques16%26%
Source: Statista

Ethical considerations and potential biases to be aware of in both market research and marketing research

Both market research and marketing research involve ethical considerations and potential biases that researchers and organizations should be aware of. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Ethical Considerations

Informed Consent: Obtaining informed consent is not just a legal requirement but a moral imperative in research. It ensures that participants willingly contribute to the study, fully understanding the implications. Researchers must explain the study’s purpose, procedures, risks, and benefits, and participants should have the right to withdraw at any time without repercussions.

Privacy and Data Security: Safeguarding privacy and data security is crucial in an age where personal information is at risk of breaches. Researchers should employ encryption and secure storage methods, minimizing the risk of data exposure. Anonymizing or pseudonymizing personal information adds an extra layer of protection.

Deception: Honesty and transparency are fundamental to ethical research. Researchers should not engage in deceptive practices that could mislead participants. Instead, they should clearly communicate the research objectives, methods, and any potential risks.

Respect for Participants: Treating participants with respect involves recognizing their autonomy and agency. Researchers should refrain from any form of coercion, manipulation, or harm. Consent should be freely given, and participants should not be subjected to undue stress or discomfort.

Confidentiality: Protecting participants’ confidentiality is vital for building trust. Researchers must keep individual responses and personal information confidential, sharing aggregated, anonymized data when reporting results. Participants’ identities should not be disclosed without their explicit consent.

Bias and Objectivity: Objectivity is at the core of sound research. Researchers should strive to maintain an unbiased stance and avoid introducing their personal opinions or beliefs into research processes, including study design, data analysis, and reporting. Objectivity helps ensure the validity of research findings.

Conflicts of Interest: Researchers should openly acknowledge any conflicts of interest that might influence their work. This disclosure is necessary to maintain transparency and prevent undue influence on research findings and recommendations. Failure to disclose conflicts can erode trust in the research.

Potential Biases

Selection Bias: Selection bias occurs when the sample used in research is not representative of the larger population. Researchers should use random sampling or carefully match their sample to the population to avoid skewed results that may not generalize.

Response Bias: Response bias can distort research findings when respondents provide inaccurate information. It may stem from a desire to present themselves more favorably (social desirability bias) or misunderstanding of the questions. Researchers must design surveys and interviews to minimize response bias.

Confirmation Bias: Confirmation bias occurs when researchers unconsciously seek or interpret data in ways that align with their preconceived notions or hypotheses. To mitigate this, researchers should employ blinded data analysis and peer review.

Sampling Bias: Sampling bias arises when the method used to select participants is not representative of the target population. Researchers should carefully design their sampling approach to ensure it accurately reflects the group they intend to study.

Cultural Bias: Researchers must be culturally sensitive when conducting research. Failing to account for cultural differences in research design can introduce cultural bias, making findings less accurate and relevant for diverse populations.

Nonresponse Bias: Nonresponse bias occurs when specific groups of participants are less likely to participate in a study. Researchers should use strategies to encourage participation and minimize the impact of nonresponse bias on their results.

Measurement Bias: Researchers should be aware of measurement bias, which can result from poorly designed questions or measurement instruments. Leading questions, ambiguous phrasing, or biased scales can lead to inaccurate responses.

Observer Bias: In observational research, the presence of an observer can influence participant behavior, leading to observer bias. Researchers should employ techniques to minimize the observer’s impact and maintain objectivity in data collection.

To mitigate these ethical considerations and potential biases, researchers should follow ethical guidelines, use rigorous research methodologies, and critically assess their own work. Transparency in research processes, peer review, and open communication with stakeholders can help ensure the integrity of both market research and marketing research.


Market research and marketing research serve distinct roles in understanding customers and guiding business decisions. Market research focuses on the broader market environment, while marketing research delves into specific marketing strategies. Both are valuable for companies using rewards and incentives.

Market research identifies target markets and consumer preferences for rewards and incentives. Marketing research assesses program performance and optimization. Both types of research share common goals and methods, evolving with technology and consumer behavior changes.

In summary, combining market and marketing research helps companies make informed decisions, tailor strategies, and drive customer engagement and business growth.


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1. Identify the issue, examine options, and set the objectives of the research

2. Create a research program

3. Collect research information

4. Collect audience data

5. Organize and analyze data

6. Display findings

7. Make data-based decisions

1. Identify issue

2. Choose the research team (internal or external research experts)

3. Choose the most fitting technique and approach

4. Gather data

5. Organize, analyze, and interpret data

6. Create reports

7. Make data-based decisions

Marketing research and market research share several similarities as they both involve the systematic collection and analysis of data to inform business decisions. Here are the key similarities between the two:

– Data Collection

– Consumer Insights

– Decision Support

– Competitor Analysis

– Information Sources

– Goal Alignment

Researchers use market research to gather, analyze, and interpret data about markets, consumers, and businesses. Market research is a systematic process that provides valuable insights for various purposes, including product development, marketing strategies, business planning, and decision-making. Here’s some of the ways how researchers use market research:

  1. Understanding Consumer Behavior: Researchers use market research to study consumer preferences, attitudes, and behaviors. By conducting surveys, interviews, or observational studies, they gain insights into what drives consumer choices and buying decisions.
  2. Identifying Market Opportunities: Market research helps researchers identify untapped market opportunities and niches. By analyzing market trends and competition, researchers can pinpoint areas where new products or services could be successful.
  3. Assessing Market Size and Potential: Researchers use market research to estimate the size of a market and its growth potential. This information is crucial for businesses considering market entry or expansion.
  4. Product Development: Market research informs product development by identifying customer needs and preferences. Researchers gather feedback on product features, pricing, and packaging to create products that align with consumer expectations.
  5. Pricing Strategy: Researchers use pricing research to determine optimal price points for products or services. They assess how price changes may affect demand and profitability.