Market research includes actions that are taken to analyze, collect, and interpret information. It is a complex, systematic process that helps businesses and entrepreneurs make well-informed decisions about a target market, consumers, competitors and the industry in general.

Market research is fundamental for successfully running a company, and it can serve a range of different purposes, from identifying a new market to launching a new product or service line. In fact, businesses at different stages of growth use market research tools for many reasons:

  • To test the demand for new products or features
  • To identify and develop potential new markets
  • To determine the feasibility of a new business 
  • To ensure optimal product placement
  • To improve and innovate the business (to avoid potential future costs if it hasn’t been done)
  • To keep close tabs on marketing trends and develop strategies on how to stay ahead or adapt to changing market conditions
  • To boost the success of promotional campaigns. 

These kinds of information can be acquired in two ways: primary and secondary types of market research data.

Primary vs. Secondary Market Research Data

Primary market research data are basically first-hand data that are gathered from original sources. This process is entirely controlled and executed by the company. On the other hand, secondary market research data are those that have been gathered by others and are publicly available online or offline (newspapers, reports, journals, etc.). In the second case, the company has no control over the data collection methods. However, what’s similar between the two types of data is that they can be either qualitative or quantitative. 

Compared to secondary, primary research is noticeably more expensive and time-consuming. At the same time, it appears to be the best way to obtain information for specific business needs. The most popular tools of primary research are:

  • Customer surveys
  • In-depth interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Observation

The secondary market research process (also known as ‘desk research’) includes:

  • Government reports and studies
  • Trade or industry-specific journals
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Television and radio
  • Academic papers
  • Educational resources
  • Literature reviews
  • Online articles
  • Case studies

Have another view, an anecdote that you would like to share, or just a question for the author? Feel free to comment below!

in General Marketing Definitions
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