Primary versus Secondary Research

It is important to understand the difference between primary and secondary market research, and when to use each.  The aim of this article is to help people distinguish between the two.  Both types of research are important to understand your business, products as well as environmental and competitive influences on your profitability.



Primary Research

Primary research is customised to provide organisations with insights into particular target markets or potential issues.     Projects are designed to find answers to one particular problem, such as, “why are we not seeing uplift in sales as a result of our advertising campaign?”

Data is collected by surveying consumers, either qualitatively (using focus groups or depth interviews) or quantitatively (using online surveys, face to face or telephone interviewing).

Secondary Research

Secondary research is sometimes referred to as desk research or market intelligence.  Information is gathered from previous studies, press articles, government organisations or trade associations.    Secondary research is usually more cost effective than primary research, and is a good place to start in order to understand overall industry trends.  The information is generated on a regular basis and is often used by the business owners for benchmarking.   The major disadvantage of this type of research is that the information can be out of date, and as it is not specifically customized may not directly answer the
organisations questions such as, “why are we not seeing uplift in sales as a result of our advertising campaign?”

In summary primary research is a customised study to help organisations understand a particular issue.    Secondary research is generic market information, ideally used to understand industry trends or benchmarking.

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