Marketing research

Definition, how-to, examples

Marketing research is the process of using surveys, feedback, and observations to better understand audiences and the market for your brand and products. Discover how to conduct your own marketing research with examples.

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What is marketing research?

Marketing research is the process of learning about your audience and the industry. Marketing research uses analysis of demographics and business trends to determine the best ways to present and distribute your brand. It also includes feedback from customers, with the help of surveys, focus groups, or feedback, for example. Marketing research can help you create a strategy for market segmentation, the division of customers into audience segments based on their wants and needs.

Additionally, the American Marketing Association defines marketing research as “the function that links the consumer, customer, and public to the marketer through information—information used to identify and define opportunities and problems; generate, refine, and evaluate actions; monitor performance; and improve understanding of it as a process.”1

Why is marketing research important?

Marketing research is important because it’s an integral part of a marketing strategy, and it provides you with the knowledge to better understand your audiences and provide information to your customers. Marketing research can assist with advertising by exploring if your customers are responding to your messaging. The goal of ads is to reach customers, so it’s crucial your messaging speaks to them and provides helpful information. Marketing research can help you determine if that’s happening or not.

Conducting marketing research can also help you learn about your brand’s buyer personas, specific groupings of customers with customized marketing strategies. Using marketing research to learn about buyer personas can ensure your advertising and public relations strategy speaks directly to them.

If you didn’t use marketing research, your business decisions could be based merely on personal preference or include biases, which is not the best way to make decisions for your audience or improve customer satisfaction.

What is the difference between marketing research and marketing intelligence?

Marketing research addresses the process of advertising and distributing products and brands, while market research assesses the source where these are being distributed. On the other hand, market intelligence is research on external factors in your industry, such as competitors, trends, or the economy.

When should you use marketing research?

Use marketing research when you’re launching a new product or launching a brand, when you want to improve brand loyalty, or when you have questions about your audience, for example. There’s no one correct answer for how to create a good marketing research report, but in general, the more information you have, the better.

Examples of marketing research

There are many examples of marketing research from Amazon Ads. A key example is our 2023 Higher Impact study, where we explored consumer sentiments in connection with five industries to better understand how they feel about the role of brands around the issues of sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Here are additional findings for each industry from our marketing research.


In our surveys of the fashion industry, we found that 56% of respondents want fashion brands to be more sustainable.2 Insights such as this one show how surveying customers can provide details on how brands could improve their product creation process, and it also exemplifies what customers care about—it’s not just the products themselves, it’s where they come from too.


Insights from the travel industry show how marketing research can be used to pinpoint issues brands may face. Almost 4 in 10 (39%) respondents said that travel brands do not meet their expectations of demonstrating commitments to DEI. This is a critical takeaway of customer needs that could lead to changes within the brand’s messaging and strategy to ensure they’re aligned with the beliefs of their customers.


In the grocery industry, our research found that audience behavior varied by demographic. For example, 58% of respondents between ages 25 and 44 stated that prior to making a purchase, they are likely to carry out their own research on sustainability or sustainable options on grocery brands, but 49% of respondents between ages 45 and 65 said the same. This shows that different age groups can have different priorities, and your marketing strategy should be adjusted accordingly.


Respondents in the auto industry take climate concerns seriously in a time of shifting attitudes, with 46% saying they’ll do their own research on the subject. These insights can influence the market as a whole and help advertisers figure out how to help their brand stand out.

Health and beauty

In the health and beauty industry, respondents said one of the greatest hurdles they faced when making more-sustainable choices was the lack of transparency around product pricing, manufacturing, labor, and materials. Insights such as this can inspire companies to better communicate the details of their brands and products, to improve their messaging and customer satisfaction.

Types of marketing research

The types of marketing research can be segmented in several different ways. First, there’s quantitative and qualitative marketing research. Quantitative research focuses on specific metrics, and it could include surveys or polls. Qualitative research is more ambiguous, drawing information from casual interviews or observations. Both of these types can be used when conducting primary research, garnered directly from your audience, and secondary research, from external sources.

Primary research

Primary research is conducted directly with your audience. It can range from open-ended questions to research specific to a certain issue. Whether you’re gathering general information or solving a problem, primary research can help you find answers.


Generally, surveys or polls include questions to ask your audience, often with multiple-choice answers. These could be conducted in person or virtually, and they could also include paid surveys, which provide participants with compensation for their time.

One way to get started with surveys is with the Amazon Shopper Panel. Available to a limited number of Amazon customers in the U.S., the invitation-only app allows customers to complete short surveys about brands and purchases.

Focus groups

Focus groups provide more open-ended answers, functioning more as discussions about your brand or products.

Individual feedback sessions

In-person, phone, or virtual feedback interview sessions could all help you speak directly to your audience to hear their feedback on your brand and products.

Secondary research

Secondary research comes from external resources, such as U.S. Censuc results or articles with information on competitors. This kind of exploratory research is a great first step as well as less cumbersome to source. However, it’s often not as detailed or tailored to your brand’s specific needs.

How to get started with marketing research

First, determine what’s your goal or problem to solve with your marketing research. Then, you can begin to find the answers.

To do so, set the proper parameters for conducting marketing research. In order to receive actionable feedback, you need to ensure you’re asking the right questions to the right customers. You also need to ensure you’re interpreting the resulting information correctly. Sometimes marketing research can tell different stories, so it’s important to give it the attention it deserves and not make hasty assumptions. The review of your marketing research is even more important than conducting the research.

You can also use a third-party source for marketing research if you don’t have the capabilities to do it yourself. Tools from Amazon Ads that could help you get started with marketing research include Amazon Marketing Cloud, which lets advertisers find analytics and reach custom audiences, and Amazon Marketing Stream, which gives you hourly campaign metrics from a push-based messaging system.

1American Marketing Association, 2017
2-6Amazon Ads with Environics Research, 2022 Higher Impact study, CA, DE, JP, UK, US