In the age of data, business intelligence is about more than just having the right information — it’s about uncovering and analyzing the exact crucial insights you need to help inform business decisions, stay ahead of market-moving trends, and keep an edge on the competition. That’s where market analysis tools come in.
Market analysis is an extension of market research. While market research tools help curate information to provide a real-time picture of a particular company, industry, or topic, market analysis tools aim to understand the context around that information in pursuit of forecasting for the future.
In other words, market research answers the “What?” while market analysis answers the “Why?” and “What’s next?”
The overwhelming majority of business leaders now recognize the need to grow this market intelligence practice in their organizations. Yet Harvard Business Review found that while 90% of leaders cite it as “key to company success,” only a quarter are genuinely confident in their data and analysis skills. And this makes sense – 98% of market intelligence professionals are still using consumer-grade search tools to conduct research, according to our 2022 State of Market Intelligence Report.
One major reason behind this gap is that the sheer volume of data companies can now access has made manual market analysis impossible. Modern enterprises need market analysis tools to enable critical capabilities such as AI-supported search and data mining, data visualizations, automated alerts, and larger trend analysis.
Related reading: How AI is Shaping the Future of Investment Research
When Do You Need Market Analysis Tools?
The best tools offer the simultaneous ability to see markets from a bird’s-eye view and the granular perspective often needed to make impactful decisions. Valuable use cases for market analysis and tools include:
- Developing go-to-market strategies – market analysis tools help you create a roadmap for launching your product or service to market.
- Identifying emerging trends – market analysis tools help you determine whether and how fast the market is growing or declining.
- Finding new potential markets – market analysis tools help you create buyer personas and identify untapped market opportunities with the highest growth potential.
- Creating future forecasts – market analysis tools enable you to use qualitative data to predict the success or failure of various market opportunities.
- Uncovering revenue opportunities – market analysis tools surface significant and actionable ideas for revenue generation.
In this guide, we’ll compare 8 of the best paid and free market research tools available for businesses today, including their features, costs of use, strengths, and limitations, and which organizations and use cases they’re best designed to support.
8 Market Analysis Tools to Support Your 2023 Business Goals
Best for: AI search technology and analysis
AlphaSense is designed for financial services firms and corporations alike, as demonstrated by its customer base — the tool is currently used by 85% of the S&P 100, 97% of the Dow 30, and 80% of the top consultancies.
Utilizing proprietary AI technology, AlphaSense scours more than 10,000 content sources with every search, finding the most relevant information, and allowing research professionals to turn actionable insights into strategy drivers.
AlphaSense effectively analyzes both qualitative and quantitative sources. It’s one of the best tools for conducting market research and creating context around unstructured data so that you never miss an important insight caught within it.
Gartner has named this key capability “X analytics” and predicts that it will replace 60% of other data models by 2025. In essence, AlphaSense is steering forward-thinking organizations toward future success. AlphaSense was also recently recognized as one of the top 50 AI-based companies by Forbes.
With AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP), AlphaSense’s smart search capabilities deliver relevant, valuable results for every research query. These include:
Semantic search is the ability to deliver search results that both match your keywords and the intent behind your query.
AlphaSense delivers this capability through Smart Synonyms™ technology, which finds results for your exact search terms and the synonyms of your search terms. For example: a search for “autonomous vehicles” would also return results for “driverless cars,” “EV,” and “autonomous drive.”
This saves time for researchers because they no longer have to perform multiple searches — instead, they can be confident all relevant data is captured in a single keyword search.
Further, the Smart Synonyms™ technology filters out results that may technically match the keyword but aren’t actually relevant to the research (i.e., words that have multiple meanings). Users never have to filter through excess noise to get to the insights that really matter.
Curating and combing through content sources can take hours or even days, precious time companies cannot afford to waste in today’s fast-paced business environment. Sentiment analysis gets right to the heart of the research, identifying the overall tone behind the discussion of any given company, industry, or topic across the AlphaSense library.
Powered by NLP technology, sentiment analysis tells you how the market feels about the topic you’re researching, further creating the valuable context that is the hallmark of quality market analysis.
On the AlphaSense platform, sentiment signals are color-coded to provide clarity for the user. AlphaSense also calculates an algorithmic sentiment score that indicates the positive or negative tone of a transcript and/or the overall set of search results, as well as how it’s changed over time.
A key part of market analysis is staying in the know about emerging markets, trends, events, and other changes that impact your business strategy. AlphaSense delivers automated alerts to ensure users don’t have to worry about missing key updates on topics, industries, and companies they follow.
Users can set their automated alerts to their preferred frequency and delivery channel (email or mobile), and create customized watchlists and dashboards to centralize insights.
Comprehensive and Exclusive Content
There are inevitable limitations to the insights available through traditional search channels — sources like company websites, search engines, and public reports don’t always tell the whole story or provide full context.
AlphaSense offers access to top-quality, premium content sources that give users deeper insight into market sentiment, company health and maturity, trending topics, and more. Specific types of content you’ll find on the AlphaSense platform include:
- Company disclosures (i.e., SEC filings, transcripts, press releases)
- Broker and independent research (Wall Street Insights)
- The most respected news and trade journals
- Regulatory websites
- Internal content (can be uploaded and analyzed using platform capabilities)
Intuitive User Interface
AlphaSense is known for its user-friendly design and built so that market analysis can be easily integrated with larger research processes. Simple search functionality, customizable alerts, data export options (like Excel or OneNote), and collaboration features all make it a usable tool that teams actually enjoy using.
How Much Does AlphaSense Cost?
AlphaSense offers a free two-week trial for all interested users. Beyond that, there are flexible pricing options available for companies and teams of all sizes. Contact the AlphaSense team for more specific pricing information.
Stream Expert Transcript Library
Best for: Easy access to powerful, cost-effective primary research
Stream is the market’s leading library of proprietary expert interview transcripts that allows professionals to get smart on new markets, competitors, and geographies instantly, as well as easily integrate primary research into their workflow. The Stream expert call library provides access to tens of thousands of first-hand perspectives from current and prior customers, competitors, executives, and leading industry experts spanning across multiple companies and sectors.
Initially built for faster and smarter investment decisions and powered by the same AI smart search capabilities as AlphaSense, Stream is the easiest way to search, monitor, and track your primary research.
Cutting Edge Experts
The right interviewer and expert can make or break an expert interview. Stream’s high-quality interviews are led by experienced buy-side analysts and conducted with pre-vetted industry experts with direct operator experience. To ensure perspectives are the most up-to-date, Stream carefully sources new experts so you can always stay ahead of trends and generate new ideas before your peers. Experts are curated for their expertise in a broad range of industries such as technology, media, telecommunications, healthcare services, life sciences, consumer, industrials, financials, and more.
Insights Driven by AI Search Technology
Utilizing Smart Synonyms™ technology and Sentiment Analysis, coupled with automated alerts, Stream allows you to easily capture insights from thousands of on-demand transcripts. And with previews, call summaries, TOC linking, audio timestamps, and a mobile app, Stream increases the accuracy and efficiency of your research process.
Expert Call Services
Dig deeper into the differentiating perspectives that drive key business decisions by requesting 1:1 calls with experts featured in Stream or working with the Research Team to custom-source high-quality experts on your behalf. Conduct fewer higher-quality interviews by leveraging expert call transcripts to better prequalify and prepare for your calls. In addition to the competitive pricing structure, conducting fewer calls means less time and money spent on finding that precious needle in the haystack.
How much does Stream cost?
Stream offers a free two-week trial for all interested users. Beyond that, flexible pricing options are available for companies and teams of all sizes. Contact the AlphaSense team for more specific pricing information.
Best for: Getting a bird’s-eye view of the market
Google is a leading digital destination for just about every kind of inquiry, market, and business topics included. The Google Trends tool offers unfiltered access to search insights from Google’s platform — what people searched for during a given year, in a specific region, and around specific topics.
Google Trends can be used to capture high-level market analysis insights through its search functionality, which allows users to enter any keyword term and see its search volume over a specified time period, as well as related subtopics and search performance by region and by demographic.
The tool’s comparative search function is a feature particularly helpful for general market analysis and trends. Users can enter two or more terms and see how their search performance compares, getting valuable insight for product or company comparisons.
The strength of Google Trends is its massive database. As the #1 search engine in the world — it holds more than 90% of the global search market share — it’s a truly representative data sample for any topic, company, or industry.
The drawback is that its insights are exclusively high-level. You won’t be able to drill down into specific search results or access exclusive data sources that aren’t available to the public. The data you’re seeing is intended to provide historical, time-based analysis rather than anything qualitative or contextual.
Google Trends is free for anyone to use. Ultimately, it may not have the features needed to serve as your only market analysis tool, but it’s a great starting point to identify paths for further analysis and an accurate source for monitoring interest in important topics over time.
Best for: Sophisticated data analytics
Tableau is unrivaled when it comes to maximizing the ROI of your company’s internal data. As the world’s leading end-to-end analytics platform, Tableau allows companies to store, organize, catalog, and leverage massive internal datasets for smart decision-making.
Using Tableau, companies can implement modern data governance best practices and centralize data to create a single source of truth across teams, stakeholders, and business functions.
Other valuable Tableau features include:
- Data guides to explain insights in a given dashboard
- CRM integration and analytics
- Access control features by role, region, or other filters
- Data prep, organization, and cleaning tools
- Public data-sharing platform for collaborative insights
The drawback? Tableau is focused on your own company’s data. While you can powerfully leverage the customer, competitor, and larger market data you collect, you won’t have access to external sources for broader market insight.
Thus, Tableau can be categorized as more of a business intelligence tool than one designed for comprehensive market analysis.
Tableau’s pricing model is set up per user and includes three packages:
- Tableau Viewer – $15/user per month – includes one Viewer license of Tableau Cloud
- Tableau Explorer – $42/user per month – includes one Explorer license of Tableau Cloud
- Tableau Creator – $70/user per month – includes Tableau Desktop, Tableau Prep Builder, and one Creator license on Tableau Cloud.
Best for: Generating content ideas
Answer the Public was founded by well-known marketing guru Neil Patel and defines itself as a “search listening” tool. It uses autocomplete data from Google and other search engines to analyze consumer behavior so that user organizations can generate engaging, audience-focused content ideas.
One of the most valuable things about Answer the Public is that it focuses on intent — its technology aims to look beyond what people are searching to determine the insights they are looking to find through their search.
As a result, users can create marketing campaigns that deliver these insights and answers or build a new product that addresses pain points experienced by their target market.
Notable features include:
- Unlimited daily keyword research (for pro users)
- Automated alerts for new search trends and sentiment shifts
- Comparative search behavior analysis tools
- The ability to organize data into topical “collections”
- Easy data export to CSV
Like Google Trends, Answer the Public offers valuable high-level insights into consumer and market behavior via search engines. The drawback is that, like Google Trends, it doesn’t drill down further. It may not be a comprehensive market analysis tool, but it’s a valuable and user-friendly tool for guiding content and go-to-market strategy.
Users can try Answer the Public for free, but the number of free searches are limited by their traffic at that time. There are three pro plans offered for unlimited use: Monthly ($99/month), Annual ($70/month billed annually for 20% savings), and Expert ($199/month) for more sophisticated analysis capabilities.
Best for: Performance tracking and competitive analysis
SEMRush is an industry leader in SEO research and related market analysis. The tool is built for users to understand how SEO impacts website and overall digital marketing performance, as well as to analyze larger market and competitive insights.
SEMRush is widely used for SEO and content marketing strategy development. Its use cases around market analysis are lesser known but quite valuable when leveraged the right way, especially to uncover competitive insight.
Features that drive this capability include:
- Comparative benchmarking tools
- Competitor website, content, and paid ad analysis
- Comparative position analysis
- Competitor PR tracking and monitoring
SEMRush is more comprehensive than Google Trends and Answer the Public in that it considers website performance data alongside search trends. It’s also a bit more expensive. Their pricing plans are as follows:
- Pro – $119.95/month – for new users and small teams
- Guru – $225.95/month – for agencies and mid-sized businesses
- Business – $449.95/month – for large agencies and enterprises
Best for: Firsthand research expert insight
Gartner is the gold standard for expert insight and analysis on business trends, product reviews, digital transformation best practices and more. They’re a largely public resource in that they publish free insights on their blog for anyone to view and use for their own strategic purposes.
Gartner’s real value, however, is in their in-depth, exclusive research offered only to clients and designed, so clients are first-to-know about the most important emerging topics and trends. These insights give clients the opportunity to gain competitive advantages and inform intelligent business decisions.
Client-exclusive features include:
- Research insights – In-depth reports and research on timely business topics and trends
- Magic Quadrant Reports – Evaluate and rank technology tools and providers
- Hype Cycles – Understand innovation and adoption cycles in your relevant industries
- Digital IQ – Access resources and recommendations to benchmark performance against peers and competitors
- BuySmart – Guiding insights for purchasing technology tools with confidence
It’s important to note that Gartner is a valuable resource whether you’re a client or not. The limitation is that many articles summarize much more comprehensive research that you can’t access without a client account.
That said, Gartner’s unquestionable status as the best firsthand research provider is reflected in their pricing — a subscription is simply out of budget range for many organizations at $30,000 per user.
Best for: Visual trend analysis
Statista is a leading provider of market and consumer insight on more than 80,000 topics and 170 industries. Its hallmark feature is their simple but compelling data visualizations and reports that show trend trajectory over time. Their reports cover digital trends, politics and society, specific industries, companies and products, geographic and regional trends, consumer insights, and much more.
Non-paying users can access many of these reports, but they’re only available as an unlimited resource to paid users. Paid Statista subscribers also have access to additional market insights such as:
- Market forecast and expert KPIs for 600+ segments in 150+ countries
- Insights on consumer attitudes and behavior worldwide, including 2M interviews
- Business information on 60m+ public and private companies
- Detailed information for 35,000+ online stores and marketplaces
Statista offers three pricing levels:
- Basic – Free – Access to free statistics and the download function
- Starter – $39/month – Access to 1M+ statistics, expanded download capabilities, additional source information
- Project – $1950/month – Designed mostly for one-off projects, includes access to Starter features as well as forecasts, Market Outlooks, and reports
Best for: Consumer and stakeholder insights
Like Gartner, McKinsey is a leader for original research and firsthand expert insights on business topics and trends. Much of McKinsey’s most valuable and informative research focuses on consumer and internal stakeholder (i.e., business leaders and employees) insights that drive a company’s overall strategy for the immediate and long-term future.
McKinsey’s research covers 20+ industries and other important “trending topic” categories that include agile organizations, artificial intelligence, diversity and inclusion, and business resilience (among many others).
Best of all? The insights are free. An actual strategy case from McKinsey is priced at hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the insights they’ve gleaned from these partnerships and additional commissioned research are an invaluable public resource available right on their website. That makes McKinsey less of a platform or tool and more of a go-to resource for insight.
Best Market Research Tools: Honorable Mentions
TypeForm – a free market research survey tool that helps gather in-depth audience insights through online surveys
BuzzSumo – a paid cloud-based market analysis tool for social media research and insights into competitors’ social profiles
Survey Monkey – a market research solution that offers free survey templates and allows you to create personalized questionnaires for your target audience
Qualtrics – a paid market analysis tool that provides hundreds of thousands of opt-in survey respondents who are already vetted and qualified
Pew Research Center – a free market research tool for conducting data analysis across a diverse set of areas, including social media platforms, social trends, public opinion, global interest, and more
Choosing the Right Market Analysis Tool
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to market analysis. For organizations of every size and industry, it’s about defining your top goals and objectives, then finding a tool that aligns with those goals, as well as your budget.
As you evaluate potential tools, ask the following questions:
- What is your budget? Asking this question first allows you to eliminate tools outside of your range quickly.
- How does your team work? Is collaboration a necessity? Will your team need remote access to the tool? Is mobile optimization important? What about exporting data? Match product features and capabilities to your own workflows for a more seamless adoption process and higher long-term ROI.
- What are your goals? As demonstrated in this guide, different market analysis tools focus on different core competencies and capabilities. Prioritize the tools designed for your priority use cases.
Looking for an even more comprehensive buyer’s guide? Check out our Buyer’s Guide to Choosing the Right Market Intelligence Tool.
Try AlphaSense for Free
AlphaSense is proud to offer one of the most comprehensive market analysis solutions and top content libraries available to professional organizations today.
When you choose AlphaSense, you’ll have the tools, resources, and support you need to execute a full-scale market analysis strategy that informs smart data-driven decisions and produces real, impactful results. If you’re ready to level up your research and analysis with more sophisticated insights, you can start by exploring all that AlphaSense has to offer.
Sign up for your free trial today.