The 13 Biggest Misunderstandings Of Marketing Research

We’ve all heard that “common knowledge” can be wrong. Well, that’s certainly true in the world of marketing research! By definition, common knowledge isn’t well researched, and lots of what we think we know about marketing are just misinformation. 

That’s where I come in. I’m a researcher who studies marketers’ beliefs about research. Let me share with you the 20 biggest misunderstandings of marketing research:

The Top MYTHS About Sales And Marketing
Key Takeaways
1. Understand the myths surrounding marketing research to make informed decisions.
2. Clarify misconceptions about tools and methods that hinder effective research.
3. Avoid pitfalls like relying solely on data or assuming one approach fits all.
4. Embrace skepticism to critically evaluate research findings for validity.
5. Challenge conventional wisdom and explore innovative research techniques.
6. Question the value of certain research when it doesn’t align with goals.
7. Leverage diverse methods instead of sticking to a single formula.
8. Consider biases and their potential impact on research outcomes.

1. Marketing Research Is A Waste Of Money

Marketing research can help you make better decisions.

There are indeed a lot of misconceptions about marketing research, but some people still don’t realize how valuable it can be. One big reason why companies use marketing research is to avoid wasting time and money on things that don’t work. 

If you’re going to spend resources on something, then you want to make sure it delivers value for your business and the best way to do that is with reliable data from a market research company or survey providers like Opinion Outpost or SurveyMonkey.

By collecting customer feedback through surveys and interviews, we can get a clearer picture of what our customers think about certain products or services so that they can provide better recommendations in the future. 

You may be wondering: “How do I know which questions should be asked?” That’s where our experts come in handy! They’ll guide us through every step so we end up with an insightful report full of useful insights into what consumers want (or don’t want) from their favorite brands.”

Understanding what marketing research truly entails and how to execute it step by step is essential for effective decision-making. Dive into our guide on What Marketing Research Is & How to Do It Step by Step to gain insights into the process.

2. Marketing Research Mostly Involves Surveys And Focus Groups

Marketing research is not just about surveys and focus groups. These two elements make up a small part of the overall marketing research process. 

Marketers must be able to see beyond these traditional methods to reach their target audience and better understand how they behave.

Focus groups are useful for qualitative research, which relies on subjective opinions rather than objective data points.

Surveys can be useful if conducted properly, but there’s no guarantee that participants will answer questions truthfully or even remember what they said during past surveys (which can lead to skewed results).

Discovering the rules that govern effective marketing research can significantly enhance your outcomes. Explore our article on Discovering the Top 10 Rules of Marketing Research to uncover key principles for success.

3. Quantitative Marketing Research Should Be Used To Answer All Questions

You can think of quantitative research as being good for answering questions about what, when, and where. For example, you might use it to get a snapshot of how many people are interested in a new product or service. 

You might also use it to find out whether the same group of customers prefers one particular brand over another and if so why (and then double down on those results).

Quantitative research will give you numbers that tell you what is happening but not necessarily why it’s happening. 

So, if your client asked you to do some quantitative research around their new product launch date, they would be asking for information like “How many people are willing to try our new product?” or “What is the overall sentiment towards this idea?” 

The answers could come back as a series of statistics such as 74% said they would buy the new product while only 6% said they definitely wouldn’t buy it etc…

The problem with using just quantitative research alone is that it can make things seem more black & white than they are; 

Making assumptions about what people mean when answering surveys can be dangerous because we never know how much context there was behind each response.

4. Qualitative Marketing Research Should Be Used To Answer All Questions

While qualitative research is a great way to get a deep understanding of a situation, you should use it in conjunction with other types of research. Qualitative data can answer questions about the reasons behind something and it can help us understand the context around an issue. 

It’s not a good fit for every question, though, and sometimes you’ll want to know what people are doing instead of why they’re doing it or how they feel about it.

If you want to know who buys your product and how often they buy it (which is important information), then quantitative research may be the best option for answering those questions. But if you’d like to understand why they purchased from your company rather than another one or what influenced them when choosing between several options, then qualitative methods may offer some answers that would otherwise remain hidden from view.

Learning valuable lessons is crucial for growth in the field of marketing research. Delve into The 11 Lessons Every Marketing Researcher Should Learn to glean insights from experienced professionals.

5. For Consumer Markets, Consumers Are The Only People We Care About In Marketing Research

You might think that marketing research can only be used to understand consumers and their needs. But really, it can also be used to understand other types of people, organizations, and other stakeholders in the market.

For example, if you’re in the business of selling water filters to households, you might want to know something about households such as how many there are in your target market and what their characteristics are (age range, income level).

But you should also keep track of how many employees there are in each household so that you can find out if they are likely or unlikely purchasers. 

The number of children may help determine this as well. Knowing these things will allow you to put together an actionable customer profile for your target audience.

6. B2B Companies Generally Can’t Rely On Consumer Data Sources (Because Their Target Audience Isn’t Consumers)

While it’s true that B2C companies can’t rely on consumer data sources, you can still use them to get a better understanding of the market. 

For example, if you’re a retailer selling to consumers and want to know what kind of advertisements they respond best to, you could use Facebook ads as an inexpensive way of finding out. 

If your business sells directly to businesses (B2B), however, this might not be an option for researching target audience behavior because your target audience isn’t made up solely of consumers or even primarily constituted by consumers at all. 

Instead of reaching out directly via surveys or focus groups.

Consider using B2B-specific sources like trade shows or industry events where key decision-makers from large companies are likely to present in person and engaged with keynote speakers to discuss new trends in their industry sector.

If you have questions about how research methodologies should apply specifically within your business model type (i.e., whether or not traditional survey methods will suffice), always feel free to contact us so we can help figure that out together!

Unveiling the secrets that underlie effective marketing research strategies can lead to better decision-making. Navigate through The Secrets to Marketing Research to uncover valuable insights that can transform your approach.

7. The Best Data Source For A Company Is The One That Already Exists Within The Company 

The 7th misconception is that the best data source for a company is the one that already exists within the company (like CRM data or the online behavior of website visitors). This idea is pervasive and very tempting. Why not just use our data? 

Unfortunately, this approach can be problematic because it doesn’t take into account how people consume your brand and products or how they interact with your competitors. 

It also ignores how people react to new products, services, and marketing messages and that’s where external research comes in handy.

It’s important to understand what kinds of analysis make sense with localized datasets vs global ones, as well as when you should use multiple sources simultaneously. The best approach depends on many factors including:

8. If We Have Big Data, Then We Don’t Need Market Research!

Companies often think that they have big data, but the reality is that they have a lot of information, not marketing research.

Big data can help you gain insights into customer behavior, but it’s not always accurate. If you want to learn more about your customers and how they behave, use market research instead of just relying on big data.

Market research is conducted by a skilled professional who knows what to look for in the data and how to analyze it correctly. Big data isn’t always accurate or useful when it comes down to finding out what people think about your product or service.

9. If We Do Interviews With Experts, Then That’s Market Research!

Market research is not just interviews with experts. Market research does not just survey. Market research is not just focus groups, and market research is not just online surveys or quantitative data.

Marketers tend to think that they’ve done their job when they ask someone in-house what they think about a product or service but this isn’t market research, it’s just asking people who work for your company questions about their opinions of your products!

Market research involves collecting data from many different sources, such as:

  • Expert opinions (interviews)
  • Surveys/focus groups (qualitative data)
  • Online surveys (quantitative data)

10. We Don’t Need Marketing Research; Just Look At Google Trends!

While it is true that Google Trends can give you a good overview of what people are searching for, this data doesn’t necessarily reflect the overall sentiment or opinion of those people.

Google Trends only measures the terms that people search for, not the words they use when talking about a brand or product. 

For example, if people are searching for “Apple Watch” but do not mention Apple in their queries (e.g., “how does an Apple Watch work?”), then Google Trends has no way of knowing whether these users have positive feelings about Apple or not.

11. Market Researchers Are Not Trained Enough And Do Not Understand How To Analyze Data Properly, So Why Use Them?

Market researchers are not trained enough and do not understand how to analyze data properly, so why use them?

Market research professionals have a variety of skills that make them useful in decision-making. Many people who conduct market research indeed rely on statistics and other tools to analyze data, but they also can think critically, be creative, and innovate. 

The main job of a market researcher is to interpret data to help clients make better decisions about their business or product launches.

Unraveling the misconceptions and lies surrounding marketing research is essential for making informed decisions. Explore 15 Lies We Are Told About Marketing Research to gain a clearer perspective on the subject.

12. We Don’t Need Marketing Researchers Because We Can Just Outsource It To Low-Cost Countries!

You might think that outsourcing the work of marketing research to countries like India and China will save you money, but there are several reasons why this approach doesn’t make sense.

First, outsourcing is very expensive. You may be able to get a cheap price on your initial project, but if you want research services at a high level of quality, they won’t come cheap.

Second, outsourcing isn’t a great way to learn about your customers or build relationships with them over time. 

When researchers are sitting in another country and speaking in their native language via email or phone calls with clients from the United States or Europe (or vice versa).

It can be difficult for both sides to understand each other’s needs and preferences well enough for effective collaboration. That’s not good for building trust between organizations over time!

13. Data Science Is Taking Over From Market Research Roles And Will Make Market Researchers Obsolete!

This is one of the biggest misunderstandings that I hear in the marketing research industry. Data science and market research are not replacements for one another, but rather they are complementary.

Yes, data science has evolved to the point where it can be used to make better decisions based on data. And yes, that is a huge benefit!

But it’s not just a case of throwing some data at your business problem and saying “there you go problem solved”. 

Data science involves complex mathematics with various algorithms (such as machine learning), which requires expertise beyond that of most marketers or market researchers.


So, there you have it: the 13 biggest misunderstandings of marketing research. This field is full of misconceptions and surprises, but we hope this article has helped you cut through some of the noise and uncover its true value. 

Your readers may or may not be familiar with marketing research already, but they’ll likely walk away from this post with a new understanding or at least some fresh insights about what makes it so powerful!

Further Reading

Explore these resources to deepen your understanding of common misconceptions in market research:

The Biggest Misconceptions About Market Research Short Description: Gain insights into debunking prevalent myths and misconceptions surrounding market research.

5 Common Misconceptions of Agile Market Research Short Description: Discover the truth behind five misconceptions often associated with agile market research methodologies.

3 Common Misconceptions About Market Research Short Description: Explore and dispel three common misunderstandings that can hinder effective market research outcomes.


What are some misconceptions about market research methodologies?

Market research methodologies are sometimes misunderstood. Common misconceptions include thinking that one size fits all or that traditional methods are always superior. In reality, choosing the right methodology depends on specific objectives and contexts.

Is agile market research always faster than traditional approaches?

While agile market research aims for efficiency, it may not always be faster. The speed advantage depends on factors such as project complexity and available resources.

Are all research findings definitive and absolute?

No, research findings are subject to interpretation and context. They provide insights based on collected data, but definitive conclusions depend on various factors.

Do misconceptions about market research impact decision-making?

Yes, misconceptions can lead to flawed decision-making. Relying on inaccurate assumptions can result in poor strategies and outcomes.

How can addressing misconceptions enhance the value of market research?

Addressing misconceptions leads to better-informed decisions. It ensures that research efforts are aligned with accurate understanding, maximizing their impact on business strategies.

Leave a Comment