The meaning of market research

(The current post may be considered as the starting shot for a number of post to be publish over the next four month as part of the didactic material of the Qualitative methods for market research subject from Master in Management in the Faculty of Economics of University of Gdansk  (See about for further details) Despite the relation with many of the previous post about research methods in general, the next months will be addressed more specifically qualitative methods related issues)

Although the meaning of research has been addressed in a previous post, suffice it to say here that it is “a detailed study of a subject, especially in order to discover (new) information or reach a (new) understanding”. It is important emphasize that research has to do with discovering new knowledge and improving our understanding of some specific topic. For this reason we can find as many sorts of research as subjects. Social research, economic research, biological research and, of course, market research, among others.

But what does exactly market research mean? A simple glace to the meaning of “market” will make easier to understand the exactly meaning of the term. According to Cambridge dictionary market may refer to “the people who might want to buy something or a part of the world where something is sold”. From this definition we can deduce three important elements: the existence of a relation between a buyer and a seller of a specific product, the fact of having place in some specific place, that may be physical, like a city, or simply a street, or virtual, like on the Internet; finally, it is important underlying that a market may refer both to something real, it is a real relation that is already happening but also something that may happen in the future. In other words, the potential sales of a product may account for the meaning of market.

So that, how can we define correctly the term “market research”. It is a process of understanding the relation between a buyer and a seller of a specific product or service that occur or might occur in a part of the world.

It is necessary to add that the market research´s final aim is always to help organizations make decision, i.e. you may work in any organization, in a government, in a service industry company, in a factory or in a finance or human resources department. Even though your function or role may not include the word “marketing”, your organization or department will have customers. The role of market research is precisely to provide information about these customers (real and potential) in order to make the best decision.

Having said all this, here’s a complete and consistent definition of market research: “It is a process of understanding the relation between a buyer and a seller of a specific product or service that occur or might occur in the future in a part of the world in order to help organizations make decisions”

Gathering information by mean both quantitative methods, such as questionnaire or content analysis, as well as qualitative methods such as in-depth interviews or focus group, are an essential part of the market research process, although not the only one, as we will see into details in future posts.


Cambridge Dictionary Online.

Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. Sage Publications Limited.

Martínez, P., & Rodríguez, P. M. (2008). Cualitativa-mente. ESIC Editorial.

Oliveto, Guillermo (2008). Market Research Explained. ESOMAR.


2 thoughts on “The meaning of market research

  1. Pingback: Paper Plane Future » Sales, service and understanding the customer

  2. Pingback: What is a market research interview? | #RMsGdansk

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