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The Distinction Between Market Research and Marketing Research
Market research is the process of researching the size, shape and trends of a specific market. (Such as the market for office furniture, infants clothing, courier services, etc). Market research is secondary research (also known as desk research) which involves the collection and analysis of existing research such as your internal sales history and external data, much of which freely accessible on the Internet.

Marketing Research on the other hand is primary research (also known as field research). It involves the collection of data that does not already exist and is specially commissioned (and paid for) by you to obtain essential information on considerations that may include different aspects of consumer behavior such as likes and dislikes, where and how frequently they buy, how they regard your products compared with competitors, what would influence them to change their current behavior and so on.

Some level of both market and marketing research is essential information to have before you can begin to think about what your objectives should be and what strategies you need to devise to achieve them. To the extent that it is reasonably practical, your plan must ultimately be based on facts, not wishful thinking.

Marketing plans should begin and end with marketing research. First, you research what you should be doing. Then after implementation you research to determine if you have achieved what you set out to do. You cannot know too much about your customers and prospects. Facts and figures are much better than guesses and estimates. There is no substitute for hard data although when these are not available, informed estimates are better than nothing at all.

You have to know how your customers and potential customers perceive the value of your products and services to make good marketing decisions. If you don't know how your company and its products are perceived, you risk wasting time and aiming the wrong products at the wrong markets at the wrong time.

Table 1 Marketing research techniques
Research technique How Conducted Benefits Disadvantages Quantitative or Qualitative
Personal interviews Trained interviewer completes structured questionnaire face to face with respondents who are representative of the target market. Respondents often relate what they think you want to hear. Good control. The interviewer can clarify any queries or misunderstandings on the spot. Expensive to recruit and interview respondents Both
Telephone surveys Trained interviewer completes structured questionnaire in telephone conversations with respondents Logistically less expensive to conduct than personal interviews Not suitable for long interviews. Respondents often uncooperative and impatient Both
Online surveys Respondents complete web based questionnaire Cost efficient and conducted in "real time". Low participation rate. Respondents must have a keen interest in the subject matter Both
Mail surveys Questionnaires circulated and returned by mail. Self completed by respondents Respondents can complete in own time Postage and administration costs can mount up.Low participation rate. Completed without supervision. Both
Focus groups Trained moderator leads a series of group discussion of up to 12 respondents each who are representative of the target market Opportunities to probe. Identifies areas of interest for further probing and research. Requires expert facilitation. High recruitment costs. Not statistically valid Qualitative
Field surveys Observation of actual consumer behaviorand retail conditions in shops and stores Research is conducted in a "real world" (not artificial) environment. Can be very subjective. Not statistically valid. Qualitative

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