While the field of UXR has existed for a while now, there still seems to be some confusion surrounding what exactly sets it apart from other forms of research. It can be difficult to differentiate it from other types of research that, like UX research, measure and evaluate user needs, behaviors, and preferences. One form of research that often gets confused for being UX research is market research. While they are similar, they are very different in their approach, goals, analysis, and implementation. It is also about the kinds of questions you are asking, and the kinds of answers you are hoping to get by conducting your research.
One of the main ways in which market research and user experience research differ from each other lies in the research goals and motivations behind each method. Market research primarily seeks to understand user needs, behaviors, and preferences in order to figure out how to communicate about a given product to the right audience. In the process, it seeks to provide answers and insights to questions surrounding potential audiences’ preferences or the intended audience’s pain points so that the right messaging can be provided to the right audience. It does this by evaluating consumer interest surrounding a product through analyzing target customer data, product competition, the ideal marketing environment, and brand perception and desires. As a result, market research is conducted with the goal of being able to better understanding which audience to target and how to communicate about the product to that audience.
On the other hand, the research goals and motivations behind UX research differ from those of market research. User experience research is focused on understanding the way in which the individual user experiences that product through measuring their behavioral, psychological, and situational perspective and behaviors. It does this by evaluating how confusing or delightful the product is, how usable and efficient the product is, or how the product solves barriers in current users’ workflows. It seeks to gain a better understanding of the way in which people are using a product, any problems that they might have encountered during the process, and any unmet needs they felt the product could address.
While there do exist differences between the two forms of research, this is not a comparison of the two forms of research in terms of its capabilities or importance; each form is important and valid for accomplishing their distinctive tasks. The ability to better understand your users and your market are both invaluable sources of knowledge when it comes to designing or launching a product. Additionally, simply because there are tangible differences between the two does not mean that these two forms of research cannot be used to complement each other. Market research and UX research can be utilized to inform and guide the other. However, knowing and understanding the differences between the two forms of research is important and can help you to better determine which one is better suited for answering the specific questions that you have.