4 min read
Micah Levin - Nov 30, 2020

Market Research vs Market Intelligence: The PB&J Of Marketing


Taking A Bite Out Of The Fundamentals Of Marketing

Marketing, though a broad and ever-changing field, continues to function with some very basic but necessary fundamentals that most professionals need to understand and master if they’re to succeed. Whether it’s analyzing competitive data or tracking trends on social media, marketing and insights professionals - if they’re worth their salt - know two specific building blocks of marketing that are crucial when preparing a brand campaign: Market Research and Market Intelligence.


Market research? Market Intelligence? What’re they? They sound like the same thing. Well, they’re not, and understanding what separates the two, how to effectively utilize both in their own right, and when to use each instead of the other, will help make everything easier going forward. To make understanding the two easier, we’ll break these two elements of marketing down like we would the two main ingredients of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Let’s dig in...



The Sweet, Jelly Goodness of Market Research

What is Market Research? The short answer is the information collected on a brand, business, or agency itself, the data of previous and current strategies being utilized by said brand, and any supplementary info that can paint a picture of what a marketer has to work with. The long answer is a bit more complex, with the role of Market Research extending to all facets of preparation for a marketing strategy, branding, and market positioning.


You can’t have a PB&J sandwich without the jelly, and Market Research is essentially the sticky glue that holds together a market or PR plan. It’s important to use Market Research to reveal key insights about your own brand, like:

  • What your product or service provides when compared to the competition
  • What your product or service does best or needs improvement in
  • The workability of your product or service pricing
  • The current demographics of your target market
  • And more


Whereas Market Intelligence deals with the elements outside your brand, Market Research demands a different kind of focus, and you and your team should be aware of how best to utilize market research so that you can round out your understanding as completely as possible. You can best take advantage of Market Research through two different means, primary and secondary sources. Primary sources are composed of first-hand references, like customers and potential consumer surveys. Secondary sources come from third-party companies that can be taken advantage of if it best suits your purposes.


Common primary sources include surveys, interviews, product testimonials, and focus groups. Knowing when to use Market Research over Market Intelligence is ultimately up to you, though it does go without saying that certain kinds of content can only be informed through Market Research, and using this part of marketing early on, directly influences your work when engaging in rigorous research that necessitates the other nutty side of the sandwich, Market Intelligence. It may seem too conventional to rely on such basic sources of data, like surveys and focus groups, but direct feedback that is unbiased will help isolate key insights that you couldn’t otherwise acquire through listening to digital platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You’ll need to use both in unique ways in order to complement the other. Doing so will guarantee a marketing meal that’s sweet and creamy, - perfect for fueling a digital campaign strategy. Which brings us to the non-jelly element to our PB&J…



The Peanut Butter Basics of Market Intelligence

The yin to our jelly yang is, of course, Market Intelligence, the other half of our marketing meal. Market Intelligence refers to the wider market, and the information that can be gleaned from its various sources. A market strategy that’s informed by Market Intelligence is better suited for tackling obstacles like staying two steps ahead of the competition, avoiding potential crises, and increasing your consumer engagement through influencer-finding tools. You can’t have a PB&J without that smooth, rich peanut butter, and Market Intelligence within the scope of your marketing strategy is no different.


Social data that’s uncovered from Market Intelligence is unlike internal data about a brand, mostly due to the fact that the insights gleaned from outside sources often reflect the ever-changing marketplace and customer psychology that’s key for tweaking and finessing your next steps. This information is much more specific with whom it’s targeting, revealing things like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Emotional sentiments
  • Geographic location
  • Income
  • Spending preferences
  • And more


By curating content based on the demographics you’re connecting your brand with, you’re able to more flexibly deal with sudden shifts in general viewpoints and trends, making for a focused campaign that’s less susceptible to mistakes due to the accuracy of the data being used. You can’t necessarily acquire the same soft of laser-focus on these sources through Market Research, making Market Intelligence very important to also include in any and all digital strategies - basically the fuller the picture, the better the campaign!


Additionally, Market Intelligence is uniquely adapted for scouring other outside sources to aid in better understanding your brand’s consumer base, like news and company websites, RSS feeds, primary news platforms, and more. The wide range of Market Intelligence allows marketing and insights professionals a stronger starting point than those that rely on JUST Market Research, though Market Intelligence by itself, does not make a complete marketing strategy. Only by combining both Market Research and Market Intelligence, can you develop the most comprehensive plan of attack for that big rebranding or PR effort. Nobody wants just a peanut butter sandwich (unless it involves banana slices), just as nobody wants just a jelly sandwich. Put them together between the bread slices of professional human scrutiny and you get a marketing munchie that’s sure to satisfy everyone.



Peanut Butter & Jelly. Market Intelligence & Market Research. Great Things Created From Coming Together.

Overlap, like a PB&J sandwich, is how you should approach your marketing strategy, with the internal and external research undertaken through Market Intelligence and Market Research. By examining both sets of data there’s a much broader extent of options to explore, and more ground that can be covered, whether the goal is smaller in scope, or entails a 360° campaign for a Fortune 500 brand. The point is to work with the basics of marketing know-how, and to always be evolving with your approach to data-driven insights.


Header Image Source: unitypoint.org



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Written by Micah Levin

With a background in creative writing, advertising, and psychology, Micah is a copywriter in name and a Digiminder at heart. When he's not developing content for agencies, you can find him crafting novels, cooking and running around in Brooklyn, NY.