Market Research or Marketing Research?

QuestionMarkI recently heard someone express frustration at the widespread use of the term “market research” instead of “marketing research.” It wasn’t the first time I’ve heard this opinion, but it has been a while.

The argument goes something like this: we are researching marketing initiatives. Therefore what we do is “marketing research.” Markets are for people in finance. “Market research” is what equity analysts do.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the person expressing this opinion was not a spring chicken.

I’m sympathetic in some ways, because I do think it’s important to be precise with language. However, I do think there’s a case to be made that “market research” is accurate, because what we are providing research for how businesses can approach many different types of markets – the pharmaceutical market, the consumer packaged goods market, etc.

So I’m OK with either term.

But what do you think?

I posted a quick MicroPoll below so you can share your vote on which term you prefer.

About Dana Stanley

Dana is the Editor-in-Chief of Research Access.


  1. Nasir Khan says:

    I prefer marketing research, because it relates directly to all marketing activities (4Ps), while market is just one of the 4 P. Some might think that the 4P concept is old school. My question then would be – do we talk of social media market or social media marketing? I am sure the latter is the case. Likewise, we do social media marketing research- don’t we?

  2. Fully agree, marketing research includes investigation of all elements of the marketing mix while market research is a demand research or consumer research and so on

  3. At the end of the day, isn’t it all semantics? Isn’t market (or marketing) research all about understand the dynamics of consumer opinions, perception, decisions etc, to improve our clients’ products and service and better meet the needs of consumers?

    Whether one does market or marketing research depends on the project brief and the needs & wants of the clients.

    At the end of the day, I’d prefer the industry to be market research, because the term Marketing Research in Asia Pacific makes it sound like we’re in the marketing department of our clients. Beyond that, its all the same.

  4. Michael Hollon says:

    In my education and experience doing research I learned and have experienced a difference between marketing research and market research that goes beyond just semantics. “Marketing Research” focuses on the marketing activity that is done including advertising, product design, sales and positioning strategy, and many other marketing activities. While “market research” focuses on analyzing market conditions including competition, overall size and growth of market areas, product trends, and many other market condition measures.

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