Marketing Research vs Market Research

hey google: wdymbt?

10/17/13 Note:  Two weeks ago, the University of Georgia changed the name of their course to the “Principles of Market Research”.  Perhaps things are tipping in that direction. Or maybe Google got to ’em.

Google calls me a Market Researcher on Google Places. The University of Georgia calls their industry-leading certification course Principles of Marketing Research. Who is right?

Street Market in TripoliI define marketing research as the use of social science research methods to drive smarter marketing decisions.

Is There a Difference?

Market research, they told me in business school, is used in big-picture strategic business planning to decide whether to enter, exit or change the approach to a geographic market.

Marketing research supports marketing’s 4-Ps: product, pricing, promotion (including personal selling) and place (or channel), which are the engines behind organizational revenues.

So why the confusion between marketing research vs market research?  Why so many keyword searches that blur the distinction?

Acronyms Rule

Because conversations are getting shorter, we’re all in a hurry, adverbs are ignored by many, acronyms are fun, and “market” and “marketing” sound pretty interchangeable.

If you are reading this blog, you may be a bit of a marketing nerd. would be nicer about that observation, but perhaps still annoyed by this conversation. “Sticklers will say that there is a distinction between the two terms, but I don’t think it really matters. I’ve heard them each defined with so much overlap that either one can be comfortably used in practice.  One person will describe market research as a subset of marketing research, while another will say just the opposite.”

Wikipedia Agrees

But, comfortingly, Wikipedia seems to agree more with my initial definitions.

Market research is any organized effort to gather information about markets or customers. It is a very important component of business strategy.”

Marketing research is the function that links the consumers, customers and public to the marketer through information – information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve understanding of marketing as a process…It is the systematic gathering, recording, and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data about issues related to marketing products and services.”

Which One Sounds Better?

My copywriter initially suggested using “market research” in my tagline, which sounded to her more like I am researching markets, hence buyers. She’s really smart, an amazing writer, has tons of awards and a hip South African accent.

But still, I decided to change her writing to marketing research. It’s what I’ve called myself for more than a decade as a marketing researcher.

Basically, I’m sure “Google” would tell me (were she and I talking) that it doesn’t matter what I think, it’s what my customers think. And, although I would probably tell my clients some nicer version of the same, it still doesn’t sound right to me to say market research.


Photo by Flickr User (D-Stanley)

Jennifer Cooper, President of BuyerSynthesis, helps you turn research participants into buyers.  BuyerSynthesis, the buywhys™ marketing research company.  Contact

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