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Thorough market research leads to accurate and reliable conclusions. This is hardly revelatory news, but it’s a crucial element of successful research all the same. Given that fact, it’s no wonder that many professionals use secondary market research to bolster their current efforts. What is secondary market research? Unlike primary market research, which a business or organization conducts on its own, secondary market research includes all forms of research and data previously compiled by other sources. Here, we’ll take a closer look at how secondary market research works, and how your business can leverage existing information to your advantage.
Perhaps the biggest benefit to secondary market research is that you don’t have to do any of the work yourself! (At least not the actual data compilation or interviews.) Primary research can be expensive and time consuming, so if you can find relevant studies that add context and key data to your own efforts, then you can save your organization significant amounts of time and money.
On the other hand, though, secondary market research is never a perfect substitute for primary research. Secondary research may be outdated; even surveys or interviews conducted a few months ago may not be reflective of the current views of a group. And secondary research –– obviously –– is not directly linked to your organization. So just because a general trend applies to your industry, it may not exactly align with your own company’s performance.
Typically, businesses can find secondary research from one of three main sources: public studies, commercial studies, or educational studies. Depending on your field and the goals of your current research campaign, your business may benefit from exploring any (or all) of these three areas.
Public sources include research conducted by government entities or business departments of public libraries. The best aspect of these sources is that they are often very cheap and available to everyone –– though, this means your competitors can access them too. (One big notable source of public information is the US Census Bureau.)
Similarly, many colleges and universities will conduct market research on certain fields, trends, or even specific businesses.
Commercial research, unfortunately, will often require professionals to sign up for a subscription fee. However, information gleaned from trade associations and banks can prove very valuable if applied in the right way. In addition, traditional media outlets may sometimes produce useful secondary research for businesses.
A long, but not comprehensive, list of secondary market research opportunities includes:
High-quality secondary market research can help a business shape and refine their own research methods. In order to utilize secondary research effectively, businesses must 1) identify and uncover worthwhile studies and 2) combine secondary research with their own information. Keep in mind that finding meaningful research will require much more than a cursory Google search, and that no amount of secondary data can completely supersede primary research.
Some of the best research campaigns combine both primary and secondary research tactics. By understanding the benefits of both, researchers can provide their clients with detailed findings in a cost-efficient and timely manner. At Research America, we’re experts in this field, and we can help you optimize your research process by leveraging existing data sources in conjunction with your current primary research efforts. Contact us here to learn more or to get started with us today!