Difference between Market Research and Marketing Research

market research, marketing research, marketing mix, 4 ps

Although people use these two terms interchangeably, they have distinctive characteristics. Knowing critical differences between those two may help companies develop more effective strategies regarding the product and services. Both types of research use qualitative and quantitative methods to gather and analyze data to find solutions to a particular problem. But is it really easy to differentiate between the two?

There are two approaches to differences between market research and marketing research. Some believe that the similarity of the terms leads people into believing that they are the same thing or that market research is part of broader marketing research. Others are of the opinion that they deal with completely different problems. Let’s look at both views.

According to the first group, market research is a component of marketing research. Marketing research has a broader meaning, and to understand it better, we should look at what marketing mix (or Four Ps) is. American Marketing Association (AMA) defines the “Four Ps” as follows:

  1. Product  

“A product may be an idea, a physical entity (goods), or a service, or any combination of the three. It exists for the purpose of exchange in the satisfaction of individual and organizational objectives.”

  1. Price

“Price is the formal ratio that indicates the quantity of money, goods, or services needed to acquire a given quantity of goods or services.”

  1. Place

“Distribution refers to the act of marketing and carrying products to consumers. It is also used to describe the extent of market coverage for a given product.”

  1. Promotion

“According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), promotion marketing includes tactics that encourage short-term purchase, influence trial and quantity of purchase, and are very measurable in volume, share, and profit.”

The first group claims that while marketing research studies all these elements, market research deals with the “Place” aspect of the marketing. Market research involves researching a particular target market, customers in that market, competitors, and their market share.  Marketing research examines the product and its convenience for use, the product price and its effect on the customer behavior, distribution channels in the market, advertising and benefits it brings to a company, and other essential factors in the marketing process.

The other group argues that the two fields deal with entirely different issues. They state that even though both involve customers, marketing research is carried to determine the effectiveness of various advertising strategies, while market research is about the market and distribution channels in that market.

As stated above, the main reason behind the confusion between these two terms comes from their similarity in names. Additionally, the North American Product Classification System (NAPCS) points out that another reason for the confusion is that there are some companies with expertise and practices in both areas.