The Difference Between Consumer Insights & Market Research 
Harvey Rañola |
 03/25/21 |
5 min read

The Difference Between Consumer Insights & Market Research 
There are two distinct data sets available to brands: consumer insight, which focuses on people and is a combination of social web, reviews, comments and many other places where consumers congregate; and market research, which captures real-time industry intel from different, but equally powerful sources, including news media. And sometimes these datasets overlap. In this piece, we’ll speak to the strengths of each and ways they can inform your company’s strategy.

We’ll take a peek into this big online room, offering some distinctions between the two. More specifically:

  • What is market research?
  • Capturing consumer intelligence and the people behind the purchases
  • Coupling two powerful datasets for amazing results

Here are a couple of market research and consumer insight stats to be aware of:

  • Globally,market researchindustry revenue surpassed 73.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2019.
  • Consumer intelligenceactivities are expected to have a CAGR of 18.2% from 2020 – 2025 .
  • The consumer insights market is extremely fragmented, with brand struggling to create solid marcom stacks.

What Market Research Is

COVID-19 played a significant role on the worldwide economy, spanning industry lines and requiring brands to pivot quickly into unchartered territory. And many based these pivots on data intelligence gleaned from AI-powered market research. This was new. Because although leading brands had begun to recognize the power of consumer and market intelligence, the pandemic accelerated its adoption globally.

In 2019, the global revenue of the market research industry surpassed 73.4 billion USD – double what it was in 2008. So there was already a good bit of movement. But today, we find those numbers exploding.

So, what does this elusive market research  offer brands anyway? At the heart of it, market research is collecting and analyzing data to inform your company on whatever questions it may have. It’s the bones of any project, or at least – it should be. It creates a sturdy, well-informed frame to work from. And it all starts with a simple search.

A brand casts a wide net during its initial search to capture an overarching lay of the land. For example, our industry analysis below illustrates news and blog articles pulled from the world of fitness:


This is a growing market, with even Louis Vuitton getting in on the fitness craze selling dumbbells and jump ropes. The largest clusters though are focused around in-home fitness. This is important and we’ll come back to it.

Next, we’ll want to see how this compares to a previous time period, as benchmarking is a critical part of market research. A timeline is helpful here. It can be customized to show only the areas your brand is interested in exploring, along with a custom timeframe to pinpoint emerging and declining trends. When searching for home-based workouts, we see the news and blogs conversation spiked in April of 2020 and has ebbed and flowed as COVID numbers spike.


Market research goes well beyond surface metrics of which topics are trending though. It also helps you understand who is leading the conversations (key opinion leaders, influencers, detractors), where they’re talking (forums, blogs, news, media) – and what, specifically is being said. Brands can explore demographics, sources, sentiment, top people mentioned, top companies and so much more. Spotting potential competitors (known and emerging there as well!) and better understanding your own share of voice is a given.

Exploring the home fitness conversations, we can see which retailers are rating the most mentions in the category, and can dig in to explore the specific keywords, themes and sentiment expressed about each.


Likewise, we can determine which fitness equipment is mentioned most – and where. This can lead to identifying unmet needs and creating a new product, or even a new subcategory, within your market.

And with the fitness industry projected to reach $21,859 million USD this year, before investing in whatever white space idea you’ve uncovered, it’s critical to know what consumers are saying. For that side of the equation, we turn to consumer intelligence to build muscle and flesh on top of the bones of our market research body.

Consumers Adding Context to Market Findings

The consumer insight industry is expected to reach a CAGR of 18.2% from 2020 – 2025. And as companies realize the powerful insight that is only a few clicks away, the ability to read consumer minds and target specific audiences with irresistibly personalized messaging, it will only get more competitive.

That’s because there’s so much to consider when messaging out to audiences, of course. The complex mixture of generations, gender, associated interests, professions, how they self-identify and their perception of your category, your company and the world all combines to form a unique psychographic profile. And it’s one that you need to get right – every time. It’s not an easy task, for sure. Consumer intelligence masters the micro details for brands and agencies in real-time.

Examining Physical Fitness over the past year, our social analytics tool provides a visual of ‘home fitness’ mentions by month over the past year. We can see numbers rising in March, as calls to flatten the curve began; and then it spikes at the start of April, when people began to realize they would have to work out at home or not at all for the forseeable future.


And isolating the conversation to that early period, from 3/19/20-4/19/20, we can see the things people were saying about home fitness. From this, we can glean lots of important intel to inform not only messaging, but what kinds of products to create and offer to these newly homebound consumers.

  • Simple exercise options, both indoor and outdoor
  • Breathing exercises
  • How to know which exercises are best; when is “enough exercise,” along with recommendations for daily quotas
  • A variety of equipment posts, including treadmills and exercise balls


Two Side of the Same Coin and Sometimes at Odds

Consumer intelligence should be compared in light of and against market research, as sometimes they line up, and other times they can be vastly different.

Sentiment monitoring demonstrates this difference when we explore sentiment drivers found in news and social.


Exploring both what is being reported and shared by consumers offers additional context. For example, news media reports on yoga and ways to improve mental health, as well as shopping, affordability, and lowering the risk of diabetes. It’s all pretty general and product-based.

When we look at social, heavy hits us, speaking to the lifting heavy. And that makes sense as we see a focus there on improving core strength and cardiac strength. There’s also talk of mind, heart, improve mood and reduce stress that clues us in on stress relief and well-being as a consumer focus.

Finding adjacencies there, a fitness brand could make some real-world connections that create simple, affordable all-in-one systems for consumers concerned with heart health to build their core strength through yoga and weights. That’s just one possible interpretation and it would be different for a given fitness retailer based on its specific niche. That one would be a likely winner though, based on the insight!

As you can see there are differences, little as they may be – consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings, experiences) rather than information to make purchasing decisions. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t influenced by the news as well, so having key messaging in your back pocket will help you dial in your messaging to really meet consumers where they are. And where they’ll want to find you!

Gaining an edge in your category is entirely possible when you have both market research and consumer intelligence at the ready to inform your decision-making. Reach out for a demo and be confident when stepping out.

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