Market intelligence and market research are important terms when it comes to an organization’s marketing strategy. While most marketers have likely heard these terms and even implemented them for their respective organizations, there remains a noticeable confusion or misunderstanding about what these terms actually mean. The terms are often used interchangeably and are in fact, both these processes are sometimes carried out to fruition without understanding the subtle and elusive difference that exists between them. Market intelligence and market research follow a different processes, and the data that is obtained using them – while sometimes similar – serves different purposes. In this article, let us have a look at the differences between marketing intelligence vs marketing research, in terms of definition, purpose, and importance. Let’s begin.
The Importance of Market Intelligence and Market Research
Both market research and intelligence are integral to developing not only a solid marketing strategy, but overall business strategies as well. However, both differ in a number of things such as focus, duration, source and skills required to conduct them. Each has its own importance as well. Let us understand the importance of each by looking at their benefits to an organization, side-by-side.
|S. No||Market Research||Market Intelligence|
|It is a one time activity to answer specific questions about the target market.||It is a continuous, ongoing process to gather external information on the market segment and competitors.|
|Helps in developing business opportunities by identifying new audience, their needs in new market segments.||Informs businesses of the evolving needs of already defined target audience, helps identify growth potential and new opportunities in the existing market segments.|
|Helps in performing one-time and periodic competitor analysis.||Lowers business risks by identifying problem areas in your market strategy.|
|Helps formulate new go-to-market strategy and define unique positioning for the company||Helps in keeping tabs on the pulse of the existing market segment.|
|Helps create unique and impactful marketing content by identifying gaps (white-spaces) in competitors’ marketing content.||Helps manage information overload for business executives and help them stay updated without missing any important information.|
|Improves investment decisions and reduces losses by identifying the right projects for the company.||Uncovers underserved customer segments, and helps outsell competitors by targeting dissatisfied customers|
Key differences between market research and intelligence
Market research deals specifically with your overall organization strategy, marketing strategy, and product line, while market intelligence is continuous and ongoing updates about your competitors and existing market segment. These are two separate things. However, both help an organization to develop strategy and make informed decisions.
Market research is conducted, usually, when there is a decision to be made. Therefore, it is usually project-specific and time-bound. It can be employed in various situations such as evaluation of an organization’s marketing strategy, product launch, market entry, and more.
Market intelligence is ongoing awareness about the existing market itself, including your competitors and the target audience. While market intelligence can also help to form the business strategy, its primary purpose is to give you a view of movements in your market, evolving trends, and opportunities.
But that’s not all, here are some other factors owing to which market research and intelligence differ from each other.
The focus of market research is to help your organization make decisions about your specific products and services. The focus areas are market entry, product launches, mergers and acquisitions, investment decisions, product positioning, market trends, risk assessments, product features, etc. Market research is thus generally project-specific, and usually has more to do about your business strategy, products, services and your customers than your competitors.
Market intelligence on the other hand is specific to your current market. It is concerned with how your market landscape is evolving, and includes monitoring of your industry segment and competitors for strategic updates, such as new product launches, partnership, and alliances, leadership changes, events attended or sponsored, etc.
Market research is project-oriented, and therefore, time-bound. It focuses on answering specific strategic questions, such as “what kind of product or service are customers looking for?”, “what sector to invest in or which company can be a potential acquisition target?” or “what else can be done to improve your existing product or service?” It is a finite process that ends once such questions are answered.
Market intelligence, however, is an ongoing process that should usually only end when the company decides to stop competing in the market. Markets are ever-evolving, your competitors never stop their operations, and customers’ sentiment and preference changes with time. Market intelligence to an organization is as important as eyes and ears to humans.
3. Skills required
Both market research and market intelligence need similar kinds of skills. However, market research analysts need prior knowledge or ability to quickly understand a business or industry segment. It requires an understanding of different frameworks, critical analysis, problem-solving, and data analytics.
Market intelligence, on the other hand, requires skills to quickly process a large amount of information. The ability to separate signals from the noise and conduct a quick analysis of the new information. It requires analysts to have consulting skills, not only to communicate with, but also develop relationships with senior management. For good market intelligence, it is absolutely important for the analyst to understand senior management priorities.
Methods of conducting market research and market intelligence
The methods used in conducting these processes too differ from another.
While newer tools to conduct market research have joined the array of market research methods and techniques, traditional methods of market research are still used, particularly for small business market research. These include surveys, focus groups, social media listening, interviews, experiments or field trials, competitive analysis, sales data analysis, etc. You can read about these market research techniques by clicking here.
On the other hand, market intelligence, traditionally used to be an ad-hoc process, where the professional network of senior colleagues, competitors’ websites, news outlets, or colleagues joining from competitors, mattered greatly. Now, organizations use market intelligence tools like Contify, which gathers curated and accurate market information by searching and analyzing over 500,000 online sources including news, company websites, social media, reviews, discussion forums, job postings, regulatory portals, and more.
Both market research and intelligence are quite significant in building various organizational strategies. Using them in an effective combination is recommended for every organization, as they help form a holistic picture of your market and competitive landscape. When armed with market research information, organizations set realistic goals, and market intelligence helps accomplish them. Together, these concepts inform every aspect of a business, which fuels business innovation. Understanding the differences between them will hopefully help you utilize them efficiently without any confusion.