User Research vs Market Research

User Research vs. Market Research: What’s the Difference?

Understanding user research vs market research can be helpful when you begin building your membership website. Creating a successful WordPress website from scratch is an incredibly exciting, although challenging, endeavor. But when you do the right research at the right times, you’ll begin to uncover the keys to your personal success as a website owner.

One of the biggest secrets to successful research is understanding the differences between user research vs market research. While most entrepreneurs and successful website owners are familiar with the concepts of market research, often user research goes ignored.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to choose the best research method at the right time. In it, you’ll uncover:

  • How you can distinguish between the two different types of business-related research
  • What specific characteristics define user research vs market research
  • When are the right times to employ user research vs market research
  • Is it possible to combine user research and market research? If so, how and when should it be done?

What Types of Research Should You Be Conducting?

Whether you’re a small website owner looking to build a new audience, or a business owner working for a large conglomerate, you’re probably facing a lot of uncertainties in our current climate. And if you’ve taken on the huge challenge of converting one of your ideas into a physical product, you know that you need to identify who your target users are.

You also need to know their pain points so that your idea can address them in your content planning.

And beyond that, you’ll need to determine if the solution you’ve come up with will work out for them, then analyze the ways that they use it.

But when you come to a crossroads in this process, how do you decide which path you should take?

In nearly every situation that involves making a decision, the answer comes down to proper research. Unfortunately, choosing the right research type at the right time for the right questions isn’t necessarily something that comes naturally.

What should you do?

To drill down to a solution, let’s look at some questions you’ll ask yourself as you dive into the process.

Some Questions You’ll Need To Answer

Before finding the solutions you’re looking for with research, you’ll first need to ask yourself some poignant questions about your product or idea, such as:

  • Is there an existing need for your solution, or are you trying to create a need?
  • What is the size of the current market, assuming that you’ll have direct competition?
  • What are all of the competing products that are already on the market?
  • Of the competition, what market shares have they gained?
  • Who exactly do you envision as the customers (or people that will use) what you’re offering?
  • Of these people, what exactly are they hoping to accomplish by taking you up on your offer?
  • What are the pain points and motivations of your target audience?
  • Of the people you will be targeting, how are they currently solving the problems that your solution promises to solve?
  • How likely will your target market actually purchase your product?
  • How much money will they be willing to pay to solve their problem?
  • What are the features that they prioritize over others?
  • Does your offer actually solve the problems of your target audience?
  • Will they be able to use your product intuitively, or will there be a learning curve?
  • How exactly is your solution used, and is that clear to potential buyers?
  • When they’re finished using (or taking advantage of) your offer, how satisfied do they feel?
  • What are they ways that you can get more out of the people who buy from you?

Of course, questions such as these can be overwhelming when you try to tackle them all at once. And the same questions will continue to arise even after you thought you had answered them.

But try not to take them all on at once. Doing the right research at the right times will give you all of the answers you’re looking for to create a great product and move it into the market in a way that makes an impact.

User Research vs Market Research: What Type of Research Do You Need To Do? And When?

When product managers begin to build a product development life cycle, they employ a number of user research methods that help them make the most informed decisions possible. However, some key research questions may not be answered by only applying these methods of user research.

Because of this, it’s important to take a step back and think of research within broader terms. And when we do this, we quickly see that many of the reliable and relevant answers we’re looking for can only be found by conducting market research.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should abandon user research. In fact, these tools end up working together in perfect synchronicity when applied at the correct stages of the research cycle.

But as with most other things in life, user research vs market research each have their own unique traits and benefits.

The type of research you decide to conduct, and when, will depend largely on the questions you’re looking to answer and the type of information you require.

To help define the differences between user research vs market research, let’s look at a tangible example. There are two hugely important questions that every entrepreneur faces when launching a new project:

  1. Does the market show a demand for the type of product (or service) they’re looking to launch?
  2. How much demand exists for the solution they’re looking to bring to market?

First, we’ll look at how the user research approach works to answer these key questions.

Employing the User Research Approach

A user experience (UX) researcher would look to answer the above two questions by communicating directly with the potential users of the solution. In a best case scenario, a UX researcher would even be able to observe users spending time within their environment.

UX researchers watch user behavior like a hawk, looking to uncover the problems users face and how the user intuitively solves them.

UX interviews need to provide solid information on things like:

  • What exactly the research subjects want to achieve
  • How they currently achieve their goals
  • The problems and challenges they face along the way
  • What motivating factors keep them going

This type of research needs to uncover whether there is an existing need for the solution you’re looking to bring to market. It won’t, however, show you anything about the level of need that exists.

In other words, user research doesn’t tell you anything about how many people have the problem that your solution promises to solve. And it won’t uncover how often people are having the problem.

User Research vs Market Research

Employing the Market Research Approach

A successful market researcher will also attempt to communicate directly with the potential buyers and users of a product. But this is where the direct similarities between market research vs user research end.

Market researchers spend time focused on:

  • What level of appeal exists for the product or solution
  • The key factors that surround what would or would not cause someone to buy the product or solution

After conducting detailed interviews with potential buyers, market researchers follow-up by surveying the most representative sample of the target group. The survey will help uncover details about:

  • What current solutions exist that solve the problem that your solution solves
  • How likely the survey subject is to use the new product or solution
  • Demographic characteristics of the representative sample
  • How quickly, or often, they are likely to purchase your solution

These survey results work to add qualitative dimensions to qualitative insights. As such, they uncover how much need there is in the market for your solution and how much potential there is for success.

You can see in this simple example how market research and user research really are completely different research strategies. But you can also see how the unique insights each approach provides will complement each other in important ways.

Stated simply, the main purpose of user research is to uncover people’s pain points and motivations based upon their unique behaviors.

Market research, on the other hand, has the aim of finding the attitudes of people about a product, while estimating the size of the market you’re looking to dive into. 

Market Research Provides High-Level Insights Focused on Customer Attitudes

When you think about market research, think about getting a broad picture. You’re really wanting to uncover high-level info about a specific industry. People who conduct market research will mostly use what are called quantitative methods.

This is simply an approach that’s focused on overall numbers.

Market researchers will conduct studies on huge samples of people who represent potential buyers. The results will infer how the product or solution will impact the whole of the population of buyers.

Of course, this is all done within an acceptable margin of error.

When done in detail, market research will easily help uncover the average buyer’s:

  • Age
  • Level of income
  • Level of education
  • General characteristics

This type of research will give more importance to attitudinal data (the things people share about themselves, or about what they do) instead of their concrete behaviors within specific environments.

The insights gained from market research directly inform marketing decisions and direction.

User Research Provides Detailed Insights Focus on the Behavior of Users

User research uses a much different strategy than market research. In fact, user research doesn’t even touch on things such as market share and size, segments, trends, or demographics.

User research also doesn’t look very closely at the attitudinal responses of users.

Rather, it looks directly at the behavior of people and how they specifically solve daily problems, while considering the products they use when solving the problem. 

User research will rarely deal in broad spectrums of data. Instead, it unlocks deep and specific insights about users. It provides specific direction concerning how a product should be designed, and how perfectly it meets the needs of its users.

User research will most often require smaller sample sizes than market research. This is because the results of user research don’t hinge on statistical accuracy.

Rather, effective user research will focus on uncovering qualitative data concerning the details behind what people have to say. It will look at the exact and specific way they use a product.

The goal of user research is to guide the design process and improve the experience of the user.

How Techniques Differ in User Research vs Market Research

Is it possible to adopt one research avenue and make the results fit your needs?

Unfortunately, it really isn’t.

Both of these methods play vital roles in the success of a product. And using one in the wrong situation should be avoided.

For example, you wouldn’t want to rely on market research to inform your product design decisions. And it wouldn’t be a fruitful endeavor to derive your market size by conducting user research.

User experience product design demands different insights than what market research will deliver. And a market researcher will most often have far different skills and knowledge than a UX researcher.  

In fact, a researcher who is able to fully master both avenues of research is a rare find. 

But when should you apply user research vs market research?

You should apply market research when you’re early in the development cycle of your product. This type of research will play a key role during the early stages of the product development cycle. It will help you analyze your potential for making money with your endeavor.

For market research, you’ll need to uncover:

  • The size of your market
  • Competition and trends
  • The areas that most interest people

Conversely, user research is all about understanding users to help guide your design process.

After completing your initial market research, user research should take over. This will help you dive into the focus areas you want to more deeply understand. Properly performed user research will bring highly useful insights that help you create an innovative product.

This will be done by:

  • Helping validate the specific design decisions you need to make
  • Deriving product features
  • Testing ideas about the product

After you have concrete product ideas, more market research will again play a key role. The continued market research will help you evaluate which concepts will most likely sell, while identifying possible membership pricing points.

Wrapping Up

Understanding the details of user research vs market research helps WordPress website owners, business owners, and entrepreneurs make better decisions.

After reading this guide, you now understand how to employ both research tactics to help drive your future success.

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