Marketing is all about customer experience – how can a product be exactly what the customer needs right when they need it? In the marketing world, terms get muddled and definitions can start to sound the same. Two of these terms are user and market research. Both are crucial to creating an optimal customer experience, but what is the difference?
When trying to understand the differences between user experience research and market research, consider the goals behind and ways of measuring each.
In user research, the goal is to truly understand at a deeper level what the customers would change in the design of a product. What solutions are needed to create the perfect product that can fill a need? By using smaller numbers of people during review, researchers can focus more on specific stories and specific needs of customers to develop a plan for a better product. It’s not as much about the numbers and sales, but more about what people do with the product once they own it. This type of evaluation usually comes later in the research and business process, since first researchers must find a market and potential for profit.
User research seeks the day-to-day experience of a product. For example, how does the coffee pot Sarah just bought impact her daily life? If she uses the automatic settings in the mornings to brew energizing coffee to help her make sure her kids make it to school on time, she will probably communicate her need for convenience and speed in a coffee maker. She is probably not looking for neat, sleek design features that make a product more expensive. Studying user research helps marketers to know exactly what Sarah needs in a product and what problems they can help her solve.
In market research, however, the goal is much more widespread and general. What do customers really want? What will they buy? This approach is more focused on large random or probability sampling methods with hundreds or perhaps thousands of respondents. Using market research at the start of a project can help provide direction and support behind an idea as well as a target audience. If there is no market for a product, there will be no eventual profit, and therefore no reason to start up a business plan. For example, surveys and analyzing data surrounding the people’s desire for certain new features in a television can show whether or not a certain type of television will sell. Based on the numbers and the responses to questions like “What products do people actually want?,” marketers can encourage logistical, analytical discussion.
While both user and marketing research are crucial to any project, it is important to understand the distinctions between the two. As marketers pursue their dreams of producing something the world can benefit from, may they listen to the customers’ wants and needs.