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Secondary Market Research

Secondary Market Research

Market research can be overwhelming, but the good news is you don't have to start from scratch. You can save a lot of time and effort by using secondary market research methods, gathering secondary data research, and then filling the gaps with additional research. In today's explanation, let's look at how companies conduct secondary market research.

Secondary Market Research Definition

Secondary market research is one of the two types of market research that businesses can employ to get necessary information/data about a target market.

Market research refers to the process of studying a target market and determining the market value or viability of a new product or service in said market.

There are two types of market research - primary market research and secondary market research. In this explanation, we will be looking at secondary market research.

Secondary market research, also known as desk research, involves businesses using existing information or data. This data has already been collected by someone other than the researcher.

Gathering Secondary Data Research

Gathering secondary data is a starting point in market research. It is the process whereby researchers look into the company's internal and external databases to pull out information relevant to their needs. The data collected is not new but existing data that another researcher has obtained for a different purpose.

Secondary data gathering involves using existing data collected by someone else for another purpose.

Unlike primary research, which involves acquiring original data, secondary research uses existing data to save time and costs. One disadvantage is that the data collected may not be as up-to-date and specific as primary data.

To learn more about the differences between primary and secondary data, check out our explanation of Primary Data Collection.

While most secondary data is inexpensive to obtain, companies may have to pay a secondary data provider to access specialized data.

Nielsen and Gartner are two major global secondary data suppliers. Nielsen is a US-based company offering marketing and media information analytics for clients in over 100 countries. Here, researchers can retrieve plenty of data on customer behavior - where they buy their products, what they watch or listen to daily, etc. Gartner is a subscription-based service that provides access to on-demand published research content produced by over 2,300 research experts worldwide.1

Secondary Market Research Methods

Here are examples of how businesses can gather secondary data for marketing purposes:

  • Buy secondary data from a supplier - This is the most effective way of gaining high-quality source data, though not the cheapest. Some well-known secondary data suppliers are Nielsen, Gartner, IPSOS, Kantar, and IQVIA.1

  • Search commercial online databases - These are archives of data from commercial sources throughout the Internet. Researchers can dig around these databases to find their secondary data sources. Examples of commercial databases include ProQuest, Dialog, and LexisNexis.2

  • Use search engines - Google, Yahoo!, Bing - these search engines are crawling, indexing, and ranking every piece of content ever published on the web. Using the search engine is a free method of acquiring secondary data. Yet, the process can consume a lot of time and effort. For example, a simple search such as 'waterproof running shoes' can present you with a whopping 37 million results. If you plan on sourcing secondary data from a search engine, prepare a list of structured keywords.

Secondary Market Research Examples

Below are a few examples of secondary market research methods and their sources.

Online resources and resource banks such as Google Scholar, Research Gate, Euromonitor, and Statista provide relevant information and data on a target market for businesses. For example, researchers can collect data from Statista to identify the services or products customers spend the most money on in a particular industry during a set period.

Articles, newsletters, books, reviews, and documentaries are sources of qualitative information businesses can use for market research. Information collected from qualitative sources can be gathered and analyzed to dive deep into a particular topic. An example of this is seen in businesses that need information on women's buying habits for a marketing campaign; marketers can find relevant information by analyzing online reviews.

Academic articles and journals are beneficial as researchers regularly conduct detailed empirical research on various topics. Student dissertations are also good sources as they can both provide critical preliminary data and secondary information needed for market research.

Secondary Market Research Sources

The method of gathering secondary data is relatively straightforward. You simply go to reliable sources and search for secondary data relevant to your needs.

The sources can be internal or external.

Internal sources include:

  • The company's information,

  • Buyer personas,

  • Sales reports,

  • Annual reports,

  • Customer feedback,

  • Information systems.

External sources include:

  • Government censuses,

  • Data gathered from government departments - e.g., tax records,

  • Books,

  • Journals,

  • Business magazines,

  • Public libraries,

  • Online resources.

Like primary data, secondary data can be qualitative or quantitative. Qualitative data is descriptive and answers the question "why" or "how", whereas quantitative data is related to numbers and tell us "how many", "how much", and "how often". Qualitative data is acquired via interviews or observations, whereas quantitative data mainly comes from statistics or sales reports. Both types of data are essential to secondary research and help researchers analyze different angles of the research problem. 3

Gathering Secondary Data Process

The process of gathering secondary data consists of five steps:

Before doing any research, the researchers need to clarify the research objectives. Why are we conducting research? How can it contribute to the marketing effort?

Once the research's purpose is identified, researchers need to choose the data sources. The sources can be internal, external, or both. One thing to note is that sources can vary widely in quality and credibility. For example, business magazines and published journals have a high-credibility score, whereas a random article or blog post on the Internet might be biased and unreliable.

How to evaluate research sources

To determine the quality of secondary data sources, the researcher needs to consider the following:

  • Research purpose
  • The audience
  • Authority and creditability (Author's qualification, publisher)
  • Accuracy and reliability (Citations and data collection methods).
  • Currency (Date of publishing)
  • Bias (Opinions or facts).4

The next step is to select data based on the company's needs. The quickest way to source high-quality information is to look at online commercial databases or to buy from secondary data agencies. However, search engines and libraries are also a big help when the company is tight on budget.

The information collected should be grouped in the same categories or format. This grouping approach simplifies the secondary data analysis and cuts out content that does not contribute to research.

Finally, the data needs to be analyzed to answer the research question. If the research needs are unmet, researchers need to look for more secondary data or create their own. Researchers can also use secondary data to form a new perspective and help expand the understanding of a topic.

6. Provide conclusions and feedback

Once the data has been collected and analyzed, researchers must formulate and organize it to allow managers to draw feedback from it. Oftentimes a research report is created that outlines results, conclusions, implications, and recommendations.

Secondary Market Research Advantages and Disadvantages

While gathering secondary data and conducting secondary market research has several advantages like its time-effectiveness and low cost, it has several disadvantages, including:

  • Not tailoring to researchers' needs - The published data is captured for another purpose and thus might not meet the specific needs of the research.

  • Questionable quality - The data for secondary research can come from various sources. In some cases, researchers may not have the necessary tools and expertise needed to distinguish good content from bad.

  • Biases - The previous researcher's bias may distort measurement and observations, making the research results inaccurate.

  • Outdated data - This is when existing research results are correct but no longer apply to the current situation.

  • Not in control of the data - Since the data belongs to someone, researchers must acquire permission to use it. If researchers subscribe to a database to gain secondary data, they will lose access to the content upon canceling the subscription.

To address the disadvantages of secondary research, researchers should accompany it with primary research - collecting original data through interviews, observations, etc. Using high-quality sources to minimize biases and incorrect information is also crucial.

Secondary Market Research - Key takeaways

  • Gathering secondary data is the process of using data that another researcher has collected for another purpose.
  • The main benefit of gaining secondary data is saving research time and costs.
  • Secondary data sources can be internal or external. Internal sources include company reports, customer feedback, and buyer personas. External sources include newspapers, magazines, libraries, and sources from the Internet.
  • There are five steps to gathering secondary data: defining the research needs, choosing sources, collecting secondary data, combining the acquired data, and analyzing it.
  • The main disadvantage of secondary research is that the data may be biased, outdated, or not serve the researcher's specific needs.

References

  1. Software Testing Help, Top 10 Market Research Companies [2022 Review & Comparison], 2022.
  2. The-Definition, Commercial online database, 2022.
  3. Career Foundry, Quantitative vs Qualitative Data: What's the Difference?, 2022.
  4. Brock University Library, Evaluating Information Sources, n.d.

Frequently Asked Questions about Secondary Market Research

Online resources and resource banks such as Google Scholar, Research Gate, Euromonitor, and Statista provide relevant information and data on a target market for businesses. For example, data can be gathered from Statista to identify the services or products customers spent the most money on in a certain industry during a set period of time. 

Some of the methods of collecting secondary data include buying them from a supplier, searching commercial online databases, using search engines, or using internal sources like sales reports, customer feedback, etc.

Secondary market research, also known as desk research, involves businesses using existing information or data. This type of data has already been collected by someone other than the researcher.

To conduct secondary research marketers have to define the research needs, choose research sources, collect the data, combine the data, analyze the data, and come up with conclusions.

An example of secondary market research includes searching online commercial databases. These are archives of data from commercial sources on the Internet. Researchers can dig around these databases to find their secondary data sources.

Final Secondary Market Research Quiz

Question

Secondary data gathering involves using ___________ collected by someone else for another purpose.

Show answer

Answer

existing data

Show question

Question

Primary research uses _________ while secondary uses ___________.

Show answer

Answer

original data, existing data

Show question

Question

Companies can buy secondary data from a third-party provider. 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Secondary data can be obtained using __________, _________, or buying from a supplier. 

Show answer

Answer

search engines, commercial online databases

Show question

Question

Government censuses are an internal source of secondary data. 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

What is not an EXTERNAL source of secondary data?

Show answer

Answer

Buyer personas

Show question

Question

Qualitative data answers the "why" and "how" questions, whereas quantitative data tells us "how many", "how much", and "how often". 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

How many steps are there in gathering secondary data? 

Show answer

Answer

Six

Show question

Question

Data from commercial sources throughout the Internet is archived in _________.

Show answer

Answer

Commercial online databases

Show question

Question

The data from secondary research has been gathered by another researcher for another purpose. 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Secondary data analysis means _____________ . 

Show answer

Answer

using existing data to answer the research question or form new perspectives. 

Show question

Question

Secondary data from reputable search engines such as Google is always reliable. 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

The researcher has absolute control over the secondary data he's gathered. 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

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