Primary vs secondary market research
Market research is the collection of information about consumers, competitors and industry trends to aid in planning for the various stages of a business. Market research can help new entrants to an industry determine if there is a demand for their product or service. It will also help established businesses understand emerging economic trends, consumer tastes and buying preferences, and competitors’ marketing strategies. These will influence how your product or service should be priced and advertised.
There are two main ways to collect data: primary research (or field research) and secondary research (or desk research).
Primary research refers to information gathered from original sources as well as fresh data that has never been collected before. There are two types of primary research – specific or exploratory. Specific research aims to solve an identified problem through asking pre-defined questions. Exploratory research is open-ended and unstructured to solicit more descriptive responses.
Some common methods of gathering information for primary research are:
Surveys/questionnaires/customer feedback – this can be done via mail, in person, by telephone or online, and is an efficient way to get quick responses from a large sample size.
Face-to-face interviews – this method enables the interviewer to build rapport with the interviewee to collect more personalised information, for instance, about their buying preferences and product reviews.
Focus groups – these are organised discussion sessions led by a moderator to collect diverse opinions and perspectives from different population segments.
Secondary research refers to data compiled from published sources such as industry reports produced by research institutes and think tanks, competitor case studies, government publications and trade associations’ reports. These quantitative data are easier to obtain and are usually free for the public to access. However, secondary market research may not be tailored for your requirements, particularly if you are exploring new markets to venture into.
For secondary market research, people generally consult:
Public sources – freely available information that may be accessed from the Internet, government departments or the public library.
Commercial sources – commercial data commissioned by research and trade associations and financial institutions. This type of professionally packaged information is valuable for its insider perspective and is usually chargeable.
Educational institutions – research reports, academic papers, surveys and studies published by institutes of higher learning.
Combining both primary and secondary research will provide a more holistic insight into the overall industry landscape, trends as well as local, regional and global competition.
Business & IP Centre, British Library. “Primary Market Research vs Secondary Market Research”. Accessed September 29, 2021. https://www.bl.uk/business-and-ip-centre/articles/primary-market-research-vs-secondary-market-research#
Business Queensland. “Market Research Methods”. Last updated May 24, 2021. https://www.business.qld.gov.au/starting-business/planning/market-customer-research/market-research/methods
Poldosky, Matthew. “Understanding Market Research for Your Business Plan”. Forbes. February 28, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2020/02/28/understanding-market-research-for-your-business-plan/
Small Business Development Corporation. “Market Research”. Accessed September 29, 2021. https://www.smallbusiness.wa.gov.au/business-advice/marketing/marketing-research
Ward, Susan. “How Do Businesses Use Market Research?”. Last updated September 20, 2019. https://www.thebalancesmb.com/market-research-2948350