Thursday, June 12, 2008

Market Research Vs. User Research

Market research and user research are analogous to each other but have completely different goals. They sometimes share common goals and inform one another.

Both disciplines have different approaches, their own strengths, and weaknesses. Which method to use and when to use it depends on what problem you are trying to solve.

Marketing research may start this effort with demographic data, while user researchers find information that challenges and qualifies the segmentation. Both types of research have a role in innovation; both can find gaps that may drive new product ideas.

Here is quick comparison of each method:

Market Research

User Research

Goal - Buying Patterns: Aims to understand buying patterns: understands who will buy which product/services and peoples opinions about a product/service.

Goal - Usage Patterns: user research focuses on usage patterns: how and in what circumstances users use products and services, and observes what people actually do.

Markets: What products or services people are willing to buy?

Usage: What are the usage patterns of a specific product or service? In which environment(s) do they use?

Customers: Which segments of people are willing to buy a defined product or service?

Users: Will specified use a specific product or service? What are the key roadblocks for using a product or service?

Competitors: Who are the competitors? What are the key success factors in the given industry?

Comparison: In which way people use competitors products differently for doing same task?

Attributes: What features and attributes of a product or service is important for a buying decision?

Implementation: How is a feature or group of features implemented? Efficiency, Learnability, Memorability, Errors, Subjective Satisfaction.

Marketing Department: Conducted by marketing department.

User Research Department: Conducted by usability or user research department.

Opinion Based: Aims to understand what people's opinions about products and services are.

Observation Based: Observes what and how people interact with products and services not what they say.

Big Sample Size: Needs huge number of respondents to get statistically accurate results. 800 ~ 2000

Very Small Sample Size: Need only 5-15 participants in a particular group for statistically relevant as well as for uncovering most usability problems.

Geography Based: Buying patterns change across smaller geographies. So research is needed in many cities, town, and villages.

Culture Based: Usage patterns change with change in sub-cultures. So, research is not needed across similar cities. The results are going to be similar.

How Does Each Type of Research Help the Other?

a. Market research finds out which users may buy a service or product. User research focuses on product/service usage by specified users.

b. Market research narrows on which products/services people may buy. User research focuses on how easy is to use the important ones.

c. User research uncovers unusual usage patterns of users. Market research can then conduct studies to find out if that is rampant and if products need to be designed catering to certain usage patterns.


a. Market Research and Usability

b. What is a usability professional's role in conducting traditional market research?

c. Marketing and User Research


sajid said...

great post Ripul,
This is a conversation that monopolizes what should be casual socializing with my marketing friends. I like the destinction in goals between usage patterns and buying patterns. I will say, when I'm doing user research I will still take user opinions into account and dump them into a bucket of user 'perceptions'. These perceptions end up being pretty helpful when trying to parse out user behaviors. For example, we were recently working on a project on cold weather when we found that people had the perception that the cold was directly causing them to get sick when it was only putting them in more germ-infused environments. This perception was helpful when we were identifying the opportunity space to change this perception.

Thanks for the post!

Institute of Design

Market Research said...

Market Research helps to understand different market,leading brands,new product development,market demand,business trend etc.while user research having more focus on use of product and how customer use that product..Information that you have provided is really useful and comprehensive..