Marketing or market research? “Tomayto or “tomahto?” There’s been a somewhat silent debate going on in our industry for quite some time now whether our work is called market research or marketing research. Sometimes it’s easy to get hung up on semantics, which is why we’re here to lend some insight into the topic. But whether you’re for using one or the other, keep in mind, there’s likely a time and a place to use each.
Market research, the oxford definition, is the action or activity of gathering information about consumer’s needs and preferences. Or in more simplistic terms, it’s about the “market,” who they are, what they want, etc. Marketing research, on the other hand, is the study of the facts involved in successfully marketing a product. Most often the facts have to do with the 4 P’s of marketing:
- Place (distribution)
Some feel that due to the distinction between the two, that certain research methodologies fall under one or the other. For example, segmentations, exploratory research, and market forecasting or trends could fall under market research. On the other hand, methods for concept testing, creative testing, and brand messaging would fall under marketing research. However, it can also be that most methodologies can fall under either term, and that the objectives are actually what drives whether market research or marketing research is taking place.
Based on the definitions above, it should also be apparent that there might be some relationship between the two, rather than calling the entire industry one or the other— like some think that market research is a subset of marketing research. But in the end they both work to understand more about consumers, so perhaps we should be calling our industry the “consumer research industry.”
How they Work Together
As mentioned, they both work to gather data from customers, and we can all likely agree that they both use the results in order to develop insights to solve a problem or objective. Furthermore, they can work together to solve a variety of problems. For example, market research can be conducted first to determine who the customers are and potential ideas for new products while marketing research can then be used post market research to move that idea into a product and marketing strategy.
Whether we’re conducting market research or marketing research doesn’t really matter in the end; because as researchers we’re not here to judge the terminology surrounding what we do, we’re just here to do it well. To learn more about our industry and some of the market (and marketing) research methodologies supporting growth through innovation, check out our webinar below.