5 min read

How Market Research Differs from User Research and Why is it Important

Launching a new product in the market? Maybe, trying to gauge the market for an existing product. Going even bigger? Perhaps, opening your own startup! What do all these ambitions have in common? They ALL require some rigorous research. Research is the key foundation for identifying and building the market for a successful product. But often, key decision-makers at companies have a difficult time deciding on the right research for the right questions at the right time. There are a plethora of different types of research, with several pros and cons, and each one of them answering a different set of questions for you. 

The top research techniques are market research and user research. Both are beneficial for companies. But often, decision-makers get a little confused between that fine line of difference between market research and user research. 

What is User Research and why is it necessary? 

what-is-user-research

Customer is king! User research aims at placing the customers at the center of the design process and product. UX (User Experience) Research is the systematic study of target users of a product, their needs, and requirements, and using these insights in the design process. 

It is done to test – 

  • The ease of the product (usability testing)
  • The viability of the design
  • The customer experience with the design
  • To inspire the design process 

The UX research indicates if a need for a product like the firm envisions, exists. However, it would say nothing about how much need for the product exists (how many people have the problem, with what frequency, etc.). It is necessary to know what users are doing, thinking, and feeling while using the product or service. This is because in today’s world user experience is expected to be smooth. Feedback collected from users dictates how a product or service may be pleasing or displeasing to use, given that every user  This information further helps in improving and refining the design of the product. 

 It can include both qualitative and quantitative methods of research. Interviews, surveys, online polls, and formal experiments are the qualitative steps, and usability testing through statistical modeling is an example of quantitative analysis. 

What is Market Research? 

what-is-market-research

Market Research or Marketing Research is a systematic process of collecting and analyzing information to identify and study the target market for the product. Market Research is the foundation for a successful company. Market Research is carried out by established firms and startups getting ready to launch their first product. Why? Because it takes the guesswork out of innovation! 

Market Research is done for many reasons –

  • To determine the feasibility of a new business.
  • To understand if the market for the product is big enough to outweigh the possible R&D and production costs.
  • To explore new markets, to identify new market trends.
  • To test the demand for new products.
  • To improve the design of the product.
  • To boost advertisement and promotional campaigns. 

It would discover the product’s occurrence and frequency, the solution, the likelihood of using the new product, and user demographic characteristics.

Market Research can be done in both qualitative and quantitative methods. Qualitative research involves surveys, interviews, focus groups, etc. It provides the firm with consumer and market Information that helps gain a better understanding of how people feel about certain aspects of the product and what fuels their decision-making process. Quantitative analysis involves forming questionnaires and surveys focused on extracting market and consumer data. Furthermore, there can be two types of information – Primary Information and Secondary Information. Primary information is collected directly from surveys, interviews, etc. whereas secondary information is the one collected from newspapers, reports, articles, etc. 

Difference between Market Research and User Research

difference-between-market-research-and-user-research

Before we deep dive into the differences between UX Research and Market Research, understand that the insights from these two types of research, complement each other. 

1. Market Research – Focused on the broad insights 

Market Research focuses on the broad picture and provides insights on what product a consumer would buy, why he/ she would the product and what is the potential size of the market that the firm’s product can expect to capture. Market Research mainly deals with broad, quantitative consumer insights about people’s attitude towards different products and the potential market that can be captured. 

2. User Research – Focused on detailed insights 

User research employs a very different strategy. UX research has nothing to do with the market size, segments, trends or demographics. It does not deal with broad consumer or market data. It deals with rather specific qualitative consumer insights. User research provides a direction about how to design a product, further modifications needed in the product to ease customer experience and to what extent it meets the needs of the users. 

3. Attitudinal Responses

For Market Research, consumer attitudes are given weightage whereas user research does not focus on attitudinal responses. Instead, it investigates people’s behavior. It aims at uncovering how they solve everyday problems, use a product, etc. 

4. Sample Size

A large sample of the target population is needed to conduct market research. User Research can be done with a relatively much smaller sample of the target population.

5. Application  

Apply market research early in the product development cycle to estimate the market size and money-making potential. After the market research at the initial stage, apply user research to understand the needs of the users and guide the design process. 

Why is Market Research Important? 

why-is-market-research-important

Market Research is important for: – 

  1. Identifying who you want to reach (target consumers). 
  2. How you want to reach them (marketing channels).
  3. What they are interested in.
  4. Identifying possible competitors.
  1. For any business, understanding the potential market is important. Learning about your customers, such as their demographics can help you cater the product to the right market at the right time. 
  1. It is essential for the product and marketing managers to know the geographical areas where the greatest number of target customers are. This will allow the firm to create targeted marketing campaigns. Buying ads on social media, local television channels, putting up flyers and posters, all it needs is thorough market research to pin down the target customers. 
  1. Testing new products and designs before launching can help in reducing costs for the business. Before investing in the production of a new product, it is pertinent to test them on a small subset of target customers to understand their needs. Further surveying both repeat and first-time customers can help gain insights into consumer preferences.
  1. If a business can beat its competitors by discovering the customers’ exact needs and preferences, then they have got a better chance of standing out from the competition. Identify the key areas that the competitors have not been to cater to and use these insights to improve your product and design. 

Conclusion

For any business, there is a real need for market research. A business cannot be run with a blindfold on, nor can you just put it in someone else’s hands.  Market research can ensure that sales and customers do not stop coming. Lastly, there is a fine line of difference between user research and market research, and both complement each other. 

Published by Harikumaran SM

Sr. UI Designer

Harikumaran SM Sr. UI Designer