What’s the difference between market research and market intelligence?

What’s the difference between market research and market intelligence?

Having spent over 40 years advocating for research to find solutions and make decisions, I realise that many businesses perceive it simply as a cost, not as an investment in getting things right.

Yes, it is a cost, but the foregone cost is greater. Of course, we can all use our intuition, and when it’s your business, you will have a good steer on what is possible. However, when it comes to different cultures and regulations, it is less about your gut feeling and more about what you know and what you don’t know.

I have used research to ascertain the viability of products, from a stainless-steel tongue scraper to a backpack designed to carry your cat. I have researched stronger messages to sell everything from photocopiers to beef to flat-packed coffins in new markets, and especially to establish which is the best market to enter next. BUT I used to lecture in international marketing and worked for various businesses, from Blue Chips to SMEs. I’ve helped with their business issues, sometimes not disclosing the names of the business models we were using.

As the economy tightens, perhaps now is the time to build some structure into business expansion. Maybe now is the time to realize how to make informed decisions and how to look for the information to support those decisions. Research, yes, it’s a brilliant idea, but what type of research?

Indeed, there are two different types of market research desk or secondary research or primary or field research.

Secondary research

Uses published data or data that has not been generated for the purpose that you you’re using it for. Often this is what you begin to do when you google search an issue or a statistic. Using this data requires structure, allowing you to construct a market picture.

Primary research

Is all about generating the data for a specific business need. For example, you may be wondering if this new market will need new packaging both for regulatory purposes or to appeal to consumer tastes; whether your products or offering needs to change to reflect cultural or religious behaviours; or how will our current social media/collateral/website be received by this new audience? Primary research normally talks to the market and potential audiences in a controlled measured way to produces the answers specific to your business.

Market Research

Will tell you what is happening in the market you’re interested in from the population, demographics, buying behaviours, and distribution channels to what type of packaging regulations you may face. It’s what is happening in that market which produces a comparative report for a business to be able to see what similarities exist and where additional work needs to be done internally to make the most of the new market.

Marketing Research

Is all the research and investigations that are carried out to find out how a business’s marketing should work in the new market. It is also a useful tool for checking that existing marketing is working acting as a great way of monitoring and control the marketing budget. Helping businesses to manage this expenditure can be very onerous but using feedback from the activities can be a start to budgetary control. The famous quote from Lord Levi of Unilever – ‘I know half the money I spend on advertising is wasted … I just don’t know which half!’ springs to mind. Which brings us to …..

Marketing Intelligence

Which will tell you everything you need to know about how your business should operate in a given market, normally a new market. It will also show you what the competition in that market is doing which in turn helps you understand how to differentiate or what patterns to follow to succeed. It focuses on your products or offerings and the impacts or decisions that will affect your activity in your chosen market. It pulls together all the above and makes sense of it providing the business with all the information it needs to make decisions.

Information is readily available through the internet with many reports being published and data offered freely.  It becomes a question of what do I need to know and then, when do I have enough information, which is the time to work with an expert.

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