Industry Research vs. Market Research

Sally Armstrong

The Difference Between Industry Research and Market Research

Industry research and market research sound similar but they are actually two different and very important areas of research when trying to determine the success of a business.

An industry is made up of a group of companies that are related based on their primary business activities. Similar companies are grouped into industries based on the primary product they produce or sell. Here are a few examples of some major industries in Canada and the large companies that operate within them:

  • Commercial Banking
    • Toronto-Dominion Bank
    • Bank of Montreal
    • Scotiabank
    • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Supermarkets & Grocery Stores
    • Loblaw Companies Limited
    • Metro Inc.
    • Sobeys Inc.
  • Life Insurance & Annuities
    • Manulife Financial Corporation
    • Canada Life Assurance Company
    • Sun Life Financial Inc.

Alternatively, a market can refer to a few concepts but in simple terms, a market is a place, virtual or physical, where buyers and sellers meet to trade. Your local convenience store is a market but so is Amazon. A market is made up of individual consumers that are attracted to purchasing one product over another. Their purchasing habits are influenced by trends, advertising, social media, or branding.

Industry research involves understanding economic, market, political, and social factors that influence industries. Industry research should inform you on areas of information including:

  • Competitive intelligence

  • Industry financial benchmarks and key financial ratios

  • Industry growth, performance, and lifecycle

  • Barriers to entry

  • Major markets and products

Market research involves gathering information to understand the reasons consumers will buy a product or service. This type of research can be conducted through primary research or secondary research.

Primary research involves speaking to and interacting with potential customers through methods such as surveys, focus groups, and interviews.

Secondary research is existing information that has already been gathered, analyzed, and summarized by others such as government census data, trade association research reports, and research reports from market research databases. The library provides access to secondary research resources and librarians are here to help guide your research process.

Watch this video to learn more about the difference between primary and secondary sources in market research:


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Business Information Skills Certificate (BISC): Research Guide Copyright © 2023 by Sally Armstrong is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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