Marketing Intelligence vs Marketing Research: What’s The Difference?

As companies grapple with challenging economic conditions and increased competition, marketing intelligence (or ‘market intelligence’ as it’s often called) has emerged as one of the most important areas of investment. Yet despite its growing popularity at the boardroom table, it remains misunderstood. Marketing intelligence is often confused with market research or perceived as being a small part of it. 


This creates a problem. The longer confusion reigns, the more opportunities you could miss to protect your position in the market and grow your share. You could also be handing a huge advantage over to competitors who are quicker to adopt marketing intelligence as part of their approach.


So to help you make an informed decision about investing in marketing intelligence and market research, we’ll offer some simple definitions and explain the key differences between the two.



marketing intelligence vs marketing research



What is market research?


Market research refers to the process of gathering insights about your target market’s preferences, opinions or sentiments towards you and your products and services. Or in some cases, your competitors and their products and services. It can involve both quantitative and qualitative research.


Market research typically produces data that didn’t exist beforehand. The research is commissioned with a specific focus and to find answers to specific questions. Example questions could be: What do 18-30 year olds think of our product? What features do they like about other products in the market? The resulting findings are used to inform decision-making around new and existing products and services.



What is marketing intelligence?


Marketing intelligence or market intelligence refers to the information gathered about your market or industry. It often focuses on competitor activity — such as company news and hires, promotions and campaigns, social content and more. Other topics include product and service benchmarking, pricing comparisons, regulatory changes and consumer sentiment.


The term ‘marketing intelligence’ can refer to a single piece of information or, more likely, an ongoing collection of data that provides a real-time understanding of the market. The data exists prior to it being tracked and monitored. 

The findings are usually shared with people and teams across the organisation to help them adapt fast to threats and opportunities and make informed strategic decisions.


Why do you need to use market research and marketing intelligence?


Market research and marketing intelligence both provide value to organisations of all sizes. But what are the specific reasons for each? Let’s delve deeper into the market research v marketing intelligence debate.


The value of marketing research 

The success or failure of a product or service can make or cost a business huge sums of money and have far-reaching consequences for teams and individuals. Failure is not an option, so having quality research to inform and reinforce key decisions is critical.


Whether you’re attempting to understand why a product or service — yours or your competitor’s — is performing the way it is, gearing up for a new launch or making changes to an existing product or service, market research can often provide you with the confidence to press ahead.


Likewise, research can be a powerful ally in gaining the confidence and trust of more senior decision-makers who need to give approval to product and service launches or changes.  


The value of marketing intelligence

Every move your competitors and customers make has the potential to impact your revenue and growth. Without a clear and up-to-date picture of what’s happening in your market, your decisions are at a greater risk of failure — which could quickly impact your performance and profits.


Market intelligence gives you the clarity to identify opportunities to launch new campaigns and promotions, get your price point right or plan for what’s coming in the future. Once analysed it can help you to stay ahead of the competition and grow market share.


Plus, real-time market intelligence will give you the earliest possible indication of competitor activity that could threaten your revenue, allowing you to adapt your strategies and respond quickly.



5 key differences between marketing intelligence and marketing research?


  1. Purpose — Market research gathers information to inform strategic decisions about products and services. Marketing intelligence gathers information to help you adapt your strategies quickly.

  1. Sources — Market research surveys a sample of your audience to gain a clearer understanding of their perceptions, opinions and buying choices. Marketing intelligence tracks a vast range of online sources in real-time to build up a picture of what’s happening in the market.

  1. Commission — Market research is commissioned as a one-off or repeatable exercise with a definitive conclusion. Market intelligence is the end result of an ongoing process leading to regular insights.

  1. Results — Market research is usually presented as a report with data and analysis. Marketing intelligence is usually captured in an online dashboard with the ability to export and share key insights with relevant audiences within the organisation.

  1. Price — Commissioning a one-off piece of market research tends to be expensive, requiring a team of people to facilitate and analyse the data. Marketing intelligence is often more affordable due to automated software solutions that track and analyse information in real-time.

marketing research

Marketing intelligence vs marketing research: how to decide 


The short answer is that you don’t have to. Market research and marketing intelligence both have an important role to play. Which one you need depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Market research gives you insights into the way consumers think and feel about you and your products and services and that of your competitors. It helps you to better understand the problems you solve for them and the changes you need to make to your proposition.


Marketing intelligence gives you real-time insights that make you a smarter, faster-acting and more innovative organisation. It helps you to minimise the impact of competitor decisions, prepare for upcoming change and capitalise on new opportunities. 



Do you need a better understanding of your market and where you’re winning and losing? Has competitor behaviour had an impact on your position in the market?


Watchmycompetitor is a fully automated marketing intelligence platform that provides real-time insights into your competitors and market. Data is captured in a single dashboard, with each insight shareable through integrations with your existing communication channels — including Slack, Teams and Power BI.


If you want to protect and grow your revenue, we can help. Contact us today to book your demo.