Marketing Research vs UX Research


Didn’t see this anywhere else, but I’m happy to be re-directed!

Marketing have decided that we don’t need to double up on research, therefore, the UX team do not need to do up-front primary research. They will outsource it. We have had discussions and I acknowledge instances where it makes sense to outsource our Ethnographic studies and user interviews (other language required, etc). We got them over the line in terms of understanding that there is no replacement for empathy and it’s a lot easier to be empathic if you’ve actually observed and spoken with users, rather than read a document about them, but we have a way to go. They don’t accept that we would create personas for each app, even though we love their research and use it as a basis for our personas (along with our targeted research for each product). They don’t understand why we can’t just use the marketing personas.

Does anyone have any experience with this struggle over research? What happened? Did you resolve it? How did you resolve it?



@sianan, that’s a fantastic question…i completely agree with you, we face it many times but that depends on the product managers, basically the stakeholders and the understanding of the organisation on UX.

I am eager to get a perfect answer on this…chorusing with you !!!

Thx !


@prabhakarankannan07, I’ll keep you posted as this progresses. :slight_smile:


I just had a very similar conversation, and want to share the thoughts here for everyone’s comment:

Market research and UX research are fundamentally different, yet have some overlap. Both are invaluable in their own context, but can easily compliment the other.

Market research is primarily about understanding what people will buy. This is useful in the early strategy and planning phases, and when validating designs/concepts. Market research focusses on large samples that must be statistically balanced to give confidence to decision makers. It also tends to give more weight to attitudinal data (what people say about themselves) rather than on specific behaviours in a certain context. It is about broad, generalised information to help steer how a business meets its customers, and how its customers make purchase decisions, how the brand is understood. It’s priority is improving the bottom line by understanding customers.

UX research is almost the exact opposite. It’s not about markets, trends, segments, demographics, and less about attitudinal responses. Instead, it looks at how people feel about using a product or service. It is not about generalised data—it’s about very specific, deep-dive information regarding users and their contexts. UX research is valuable for providing direction about how a solution should be designed, and how it meets the needs of users. Sample sizes are much smaller because we’re not dealing with quantitative data that needs statistical accuracy. We’re looking more at qualitative data about what is behind what people say, about what they literally do when given decisions in an interface. Its priority is to improve the user experience, which translates into improved bottom line.

The two should not be confused, but can be combined for good effect. Market research can be used for initial market sizing, analyzing competition, getting an idea about trends and product/service areas that people are interested in, and also for identifying approximate price points. From that initial research, user experience research will dive into the focus area we want to understand more deeply, and which may lead to insights useful for innovation, specific design choices and iterations of a product idea. Once that is done, market research again plays a critical role in evaluating which of these concepts are most likely to sell successfully.

I can recommend Jeff Sauro’s nifty summary of outcomes and hows/tasks/inputs across this market-research-to-UX-research spectrum too:


Thanks @Lukcha (also @prabhakarankannan07 ) Yeah. This is my understanding as well and this is the thinking I brought to them… They suggested that I had previously poor encounters with marketing before if this is what I thought their insights team was all about. They were pretty insulted by the idea and said that if I think they’re are not targeting our research needs as well, then I need to give them input so they are meeting their needs and UX needs. They really believe the research belongs to them, even though they have given me this mixed response of “How dare you” + “ok tell us the deep dive questions we need to ask”.

The current state of things is that UX will be doing some studies in Australia and travel to some other countries that the research firm (that they are outsourcing our research to) won’t be visiting and UX will also be digesting their research before joining them for follow up visits to their allocated countries.