What Is The Difference Between Market Intelligence and Market Research

difference between market intelligence and market research

You’d be forgiven for believing these two terms to be synonymous.  However, there is a subtle but distinct difference in the meaning and the application of “market intelligence” and “market research.”

The major similarity between the two is that they both require data from the customers regarding your brand and/or products.

Let’s look at how they compare and how they differ.

Market Research Focusses on the Customer

Market research aims

Market research is about gathering information on your target customers for one of the following reasons:

  • To predict the success of a new product,
  • To understand the performance of an existing product,
  • To understand how your brand is perceived by customers (and whether this aligns with your desired messaging impact),
  • To understand the success of your marketing efforts.


Primarily, market research informs your marketing and product development strategies. Your market research questions aim to fully understand what the customer wants, where they go to get it, and what factors impact their final purchasing decisions.

Note that market research doesn’t just focus on existing customers, but instead includes all target customers including the customers of your main competitors. If your aim is to attain more customers, you need to look beyond the customers you’ve already successfully targeted and branch out to capture the attitudes of different customers within your market.

Market research questions

The aim of market research is to get insights into a wide range of questions from the perspective of your target customers such as:

  • Where do they go to research options before making a purchase?
  • Which competitors have they heard of/ have they purchased from before?
  • How do they feel about competitors’ products/ brands? To what extent do they align with their values?
  • What are their main pain points with products/services on the market?
  • Which factors most impact their purchase decisions? E.g. price, availability, customer service, speed of service, good reviews, etc.
  • Is there a demand for a certain feature/product that isn’t currently represented in the market?

Market Intelligence Looks At The Entire Market

Market intelligence aims

Market intelligence is a much broader term. It’s about gathering information to learn about the current state of your market including competition, customers, products on the market, strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for growth.

Reasons for conducting market intelligence include:

  • Understanding your position within the market,
  • Keeping up to date with developments in your industry,
  • Exploring new market opportunities.


It’s important to note that there is a crossover between market intelligence and market research. Part of understanding your existing market necessarily involves understanding your customers and the customers of your main competitors. But the difference is that market intelligence explores customer perspectives within a broader context.

Market intelligence questions

Your competitors

  • What products/services do your competitors offer?
  • What new developments/technologies are available or trending within your market?
  • How do customers feel about competitor brands/products/services?
  • What’s your competitive advantage? Why would customers choose competitors over you?
  • Does their customer feedback align with the competitors’ stated values?
  • What is their manufacturing process?


Your products

  • How do your existing customers feel about your products?
  • How do your products compare with your competitors’ offerings in terms of quality, performance, value, etc.
  • What improvement opportunities are there?
  • What is your manufacturing process? Can it be streamlined?


Market performance

  • How does your product perform across different markets?
  • Is there potential to expand to new markets?
  • Is there an untapped niche?


Customer understanding

  • What drives customer purchasing decisions?
  • What customer needs do your products/services successfully fulfil?
  • Where do customers purchase from? (e.g. successful third party vendors)

Data Sources

We’ve discussed the differences between market research and market intelligence, but there’s one key similarity: it’s all about data.

Market intelligence and market research are both conducted to inform your decision making and give you data-driven insights into your customers, your competitors and the market at large.

Market research sources

 Market research data sources are all customer generated. These include:

  • Surveys,
  • Interviews,
  • Polls,
  • Focus groups,
  • Google analytics data,
  • Sales logs
  • CRM data
  • Review sites,
  • and Social media.

Market intelligence sources

Market intelligence data sources include:

  • Competitor websites,
  • News websites,
  • Manufacturers.


As well as all of the market research sources mentioned above.

Social media and review sites

Social media and review sites are the richest source of data regarding consumer opinions, attitudes, behaviour, preferences, etc. But with the assistance of text analysis AI, they can also give you deep insights for competitor intelligence.

With Symanto technology, you can crawl and analyse thousands of social media comments, posts and reviews within minutes and get an accurate overview of your performance compared to your competitors. Our topic and sentiment detection technologies process data into intuitive graphs and charts so that you can see how your competitors fare on important factors including value, customer service, features, quality, etc.

Delve deeper into the data to find out exactly what customers are saying. Our psychographics technology also gives you a unique insights into different customer segments. For example, which of your competitors has the most loyal following? Do your customers respond better to emotional or rational messaging? These findings are valuable for both market research and market intelligence.

Get Started with Symanto

Whether you’re conducting market research or market intelligence, it needn’t be time or resource consuming. Symanto technology is highly customisable and applicable to many industries and markets. Find out more about our world-leading natural language processing technology, and how it can facilitate fast and accurate market research and market intelligence specific to your industry.

Get in touch or book your free personalised demonstration.