Secondary data in market research

4 min read

Secondary data in market research is information that has already been collected by someone else through various research methods.

Secondary data in market research is an important tool to have in your arsenal. It is a means to collect information from existing sources. Secondary data is information that has already been collected by someone else through various research methods such as questionnaires, interviews, or surveys. Often it’s just a matter of going through it and extracting what you need for your project.

If you have worked in market research before, then you’ll know that running a survey yourself can be a huge hassle — especially if you want to run several iterations quickly. If it takes you two months to create, run and analyze each survey you conduct, then conducting a dozen will take up your entire year!

Role of secondary data in market research

How can you get the information you need if there isn’t enough of it? This is a question every market researcher needs to ask themselves every time they begin creating their analysis report. They must weigh the costs and benefits of primary research and secondary research in order to create a thorough product, either written or unwritten.

Secondary research replaces a primary research effort and reduces the time and resources required to collect and analyze information and improve usability and speed of delivery. Going through a secondary research project can be like a treasure hunt — you may not always find what you’re looking for, but along the way, you’ll certainly find some great and interesting stuff. It is an essential and non-negotiable part of any research project that aims at providing new knowledge on a specific problem. 

Designing secondary research

In an increasingly dynamic world where decisions must be made quickly, secondary research comes to the rescue. The main task of the researcher is to design a layout following the existing data and then clearly outline the direction of the research. With so many types of secondary research available, one may need to plan accordingly. Here are a few ways in which you can approach your problem statement more efficiently:

Evaluative research

Evaluative research is one of the two types of research studies, sometimes referred to as marketing research. The other type of study is known as exploratory research. Both registers help the organization to get insights and information on the market, customers, and their behavior.

Evaluative research, in particular, focuses on identifying a specific problem area and then evaluating it in terms of the wants or desires of the people facing that problem in that particular region. Introducing products keeping in mind customer preferences is an example. There are two types of evaluative research:

Summative research

It emphasizes the after-effects of any research process of a particular product. Summative research may aim to assess:

  • Outcomes – whether the desired outcome is achieved or not.
  • Impact – be it positive, negative, or unremarkable.
  • Secondary analysis – critical analysis of preexisting data.
  • Meta-analysis – analysis of analyses or synthesis of other analyzed published data where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Economic feasibility – if the outcome is viable to implement at scale in terms of costs and profits.
Formative research

This technique is used to make the person or article which is to be tested; to improve it in any way. Formative research may seek to assess:

  • The need for why such a product is required can be evaluated.
  • The capacity to use the insights that can further be investigated upon.
  • To monitor the adaptation or implementation of any product.

Exploratory research 

This kind of research mainly focuses on topics with less or no information. It facilitates the development of fresh ideas and innovative solutions that can replace existing ones.

Exploratory research is a type of market research that helps the research team interpret data and identify markets. Many times, companies conduct exploratory studies in areas where they don’t have many experiences, such as new product launches or new target markets. Some crucial aspects of this type of research are:

  • It is flexible research without any limitations and addresses all aspects of the specific area.
  • Provides a platform for further research and clarifies existing theories.
  • A useful approach for gaining useful information related to any topic.

Generative research

Generative research is an approach to market research that seeks to predict and influence the future through an analysis of emerging trends and patterns. Also known as predictive research, it involves filtering the useful insights from the research that has been conducted and applying those concepts to solving problems.

These solutions are generally derived from the research that has been conducted. For a successful application, a researcher must know the customer’s needs or wants and proceed accordingly. Some results of generative research may be to:

  • Gauge past and current trends.
  • Anticipate a pattern in the future.
  • Find alternative solutions to traditional ones.

Mistakes to avoid during the secondary research

Selection errors

A selection error is a kind of sampling error that occurs because of an inherent bias on the part of the researcher. This may happen when the data selected for analysis is inaccurate or inadequate. All market research can be vulnerable to some degree to selection errors. Here’s where strategic measures to minimize impact and other ways to account for it.

Errors that can invalidate data

In this age of increasing data, there is a greater tendency toward data manipulation. The accuracy and validity of the obtained data need to be checked. In the case of secondary data, it might be contaminated due to some inappropriate or negligent actions of a crucial mass of leadership or the organization handling it.

Broadly such errors may be caused by: 

  • data alteration,
  • the ambiguity of concerned stakeholders, and 
  • conceptual errors.

Data reformulation errors 

Secondary data in market research is not always directly beneficial to the analyst because it does not appropriately measure the subject under consideration. Errors are frequently the outcome of one of the four conditions listed below:   

Circumstantial change

Such a type of error occurs due to sudden changes in conditions that somehow significantly affect the outcome of the research. It can be as big as a geographical change or as meager as the unit of measurement change. And there are at least two ways of altering the particulars.

Due to inappropriate transformations

Original data is frequently offered in secondary data sources in categories established to make the data more presentable in a tabular style, or the original categories do not represent the demands of the analyst to manage the work at hand.

Errors due to misrepresentation

No matter whether the whole research process being carried out was done perfectly, a glitch as small as a misplaced decimal or any grammatical error can manipulate the whole meaning or miscommunicate any information.

Errors due to collection procedures to

The collection methods in which the researcher might have collected data may not be the best suited to those conditions.

Final notes

Market research is time-consuming as it involves research related to a certain market, niche, or even product. Since there may be a multitude of competitors in the market, the competitiveness varies from one industry to another. As you go about with research, data collection may be too much to handle. Secondary data sources help you find information that you need without having to reinvent the wheel.

With CleverX, the whole process of market research becomes a lot easier — with professionals coming from diverse backgrounds and roles, we help research clients with data that is neither faux nor available in between any other information sources.

Take a look at how we are changing the market research industry and how research firms are making a hit with us!