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  • Writer's pictureKristin Harper

The Critical Difference Between Market Research Insights and Findings

Understanding your brand’s consumer is the cornerstone of successful marketing, but it's a nuanced process that requires a deep dive into not just what they say, but what they mean. Too often, market research findings are mistaken for insights, leading to campaigns and product launches that miss the mark. 

In this blog post, we're diving into the critical differences between market research insights and findings and how brands can leverage these distinctions to create truly customer-centric strategies.

The Essence of Market Research Findings

Market research findings are the facts, the quantitative data, or the results of a survey or study. They are the 'what' of your market research. For instance, finding that 80% of your customer base prefers product A over product B is a finding. It is crucial that market research findings are robust, accurate, and specific to a particular question or objective. However, findings alone don't offer strategic direction. They are statistically correct observations waiting to be contextualized and turned into actionable insights.

On the other hand, market research insights are the interpretations and implications of findings. They answer the 'so what' question. Insights are the deep truths about consumers that can lead to informed business decisions. An insight might be that the preference for product A is driven by a subconscious desire for convenience. It's essential that insights are not just guesses or opinions, but are based on research findings and are of strategic importance to a business.

For example, Procter & Gamble discovered that “laundry is a mundane, time-consuming and a complicated task,” said Alexandra Keith, Vice President, P&G Fabric Care North America. Many consumers were disengaged with the laundry process, which led to dissatisfaction with the category. 

After 8 years, 75 technical resources, 6,000 consumers involved in research and over 450 packaging and product sketches, Tide Pods was launched. Procter & Gamble scientists developed a product that saves people time, simplifies the laundry routine, and makes laundry less of a chore.

Five Distinct Differences You Can't Ignore

Let's get granular with the main differences between market research insights and findings.

1. Data versus Story

Findings are the data points, the numbers and statistics, but insights turn those data points into a narrative. They craft the story behind the 'what'. For instance, a finding might show an increase in app engagement, while the insight might reveal that users were drawn in by a new gamified interface that offered rewards and recognition.

2. Intellectual versus Emotional Impact

While findings might intellectually inform, insights often have an emotional impact. They can surprise, delight, or captivate an audience. When Netflix discovered through market research that there was a significant number of users who watched the entire season of a show on the first day it was available, that was an insight, which subsequently led to the release of its 'binge-watchable' series.

3. Current Status versus Future Direction

Market research findings provide an understanding of the current situation, while insights guide the future, determining where to invest time, money, and resources to drive success. Facebook's 'On This Day' feature was born out of an insight that memories and nostalgia strongly drive user engagement, a trend that could shape the platform's interaction model in the future.

4. Obvious Results versus Surprising Realities

Some findings are quite plain and expected, while insights often reveal surprising or previously unseen aspects of your market. Google launched Project Aristotle, a quest designed to build the perfect team. What they uncovered is that a team's intelligence had little to do with the IQs of its individual members but more to do with how well they worked together, a startling insight that directed conference strategies and workspace designs.

5. Quantity versus Quality

Lastly, findings are often a matter of quantity, while insights are a matter of quality. A finding that highlights a large group of users in a certain demographic is a quantity-based result. However, the insight that this demographic engages with your brand based on their personal preferences led Spotify to introduce a Discover Weekly playlist. This feature is rooted in an insight gleaned from market research findings that indicated listeners not only wanted to enjoy their favorite tracks but also wanted an effortless way to discover new music tailored to their taste. This insight revolutionized user experience on the platform by delivering personalized playlists, which led to increased user engagement and subscription rates.

How to Foster Market Research Insights

Market research insights don't just magically appear; they need cultivation. Here are several strategies to foster a culture that consistently turns findings into actionable insights.

  • Hold dedicated brainstorming sessions: Once the findings are in, gather a team to explore their implications. Look for the 'so what' in every piece of data. Diverge to explore wild and wacky ideas, then converge on the best ideas. 

  • Collaborate across departments: The more diverse the team, the better. Sometimes, the most profound insights come from an interdisciplinary collaboration. Consider perspectives from marketing, sales, customer service, and product development, to name a few.

  • Utilize the right market research partners: If you want to streamline the journey from finding to insight, engage a trusted vendor partner who is experienced in your industry, can quickly understand your business situation and desired outcome, and can probe below the surface with consumers to uncover meaningful insights. BONUS: Engage a trusted firm like Driven to Succeed who has the first hand experience managing brands, new product innovation, and P&Ls. 

  • Listen to the voice of the consumer: Market research isn't just about numbers; it's about people. Listen to customer feedback, social media mentions, and online reviews to uncover qualitative data that can support your quantitative findings. Use these insights to probe deeper with primary qualitative market research. 

  • Stay curious: Insights can arise at any time, often when you least expect them. Stay curious, ask questions, and be open to the possibility that your most significant insight might come from an unexpected place. Be careful, though. A base size should be validated with a larger sample.

Addressing Common Misunderstandings and Pitfalls

Despite the significant differences, the line between a finding and an insight can often become blurred. Here are some common misunderstandings and pitfalls to avoid.

  • Misinterpreting Correlation as Causation: This classic mistake can lead to misinformed insights. For instance, a finding that taller users click more often on a website doesn't mean that 'height' is the cause of 'clicking behavior.'

  • DIY Research: It’s tempting to save money by having an employee lead the research. Sometimes, knowing “too much” can erode objectivity and result in leading questions that are specific but not inspiring, insightful, or innovative. 

  • Overlooking Contradictions in Data: Not all findings support a single, definitive insight. Sometimes, the path to understanding a market requires acknowledging and exploring contradictory data.

  • Ignoring Qualitative Aspects: Focusing solely on quantitative findings can lead to missing out on valuable, human-centered insights that drive emotional connections with your brand.

  • Assuming All the Answers Come from a Single Source: This can be the most dangerous pitfall of all. No single department, software, or report has a monopoly on insights. It's a collective effort, and an ongoing process.

The Future of Market Research: Insights-Driven Innovation

The future of market research is undoubtedly insights-driven. As brands continue to innovate and differentiate, mere findings will not suffice. Only by delving deep into the heart of customer data and pulling out actionable insights can businesses truly weather the uncertainties of the market and maintain a competitive edge.

By understanding the distinctions laid out in this blog and adopting a proactive approach to gathering and interpreting market research, brands can ensure that their marketing strategies are attuned to the subtle nuances of their consumer base, driving not just sales, but also loyalty and advocacy.

As we navigate the ever-changing landscape of consumer behavior and preferences, the ability to transform market research findings into actionable, consumer-driven insights will be the hallmark of the most effective and valuable brands in the market.

In summary, distinguishing mere findings from valuable insights in market research can drive innovation, customer experience, and targeted marketing. Insights, which are actionable and derived from a thorough analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data, are crucial for achieving a competitive edge and resonating with consumers on a deeper level. 

If you're looking for a partner to uncover insights for your brand, let’s schedule time to connect.


Driven to Succeed is an award-winning market research and consulting firm that connects the dots to unleash growth for mid-market companies and Fortune 500 brands. We are powered by a team with multiple zones of genius who use empathy, intuition and insights to help brands grow, and people thrive. Our expertise includes research, analytics, brand management, and marketing in Consumer Packaged Goods, Healthcare Biopharma, Food & Beverage, Financial Services and beyond. Learn more at

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