Types of secondary research

2 min read

Secondary research provides an independent opinion when it comes to consulting others about your market, competitors, and consumer trends.

There are many reasons why companies carry out secondary research. With a growing shortage of time and a surplus of information, businesses can save valuable time by using indirect or even direct data relevant to their work, saving human hours that are then redirected towards higher profit activities. Secondary research also provides an independent opinion when it comes to consulting others about your market, your competitors, and consumer trends.

As a widely used tool in every self-respecting researcher’s armory, secondary research may involve both online and offline work. Both have their significance to the study.

Online data is collected on the internet, paid or unpaid. Numerous research sources can be found, which also increases the possibility of many fake sites, so make sure you consult bona fide sites. It can be recognized as a virtual aggregation of all secondary data outcomes.

Offline data is obtained from the library, historical properties, personal contacts, and such organizations that are present in physical form, i.e., non-virtual reality.

If you’re working on a project where the findings need to be based on previous research, then secondary research is what you need. Below are five types of secondary research that can help you uncover all the necessary information.

Online data

From books, journals, and articles, to government documents, websites, and other sources, a lot of secondary data is available online. While the internet is convenient, there is also the danger of misinformation that one needs to beware of.

Before you consult information online, make sure you have verified the following:

  • Does your source have the necessary qualifications and credentials to offer information on the subject?
  • How do they offer information to internet users and ensure data security?
  • How do they charge for their services?
  • Is their information aligned with what you’re looking for?
  • Are they transparent with their communication?


Although libraries are not as popular as they once were in the past few years, they are still valid learning and development facilities and are considered one of the important types of secondary research. These collections can be books, manuscripts, archives, databases, maps, or other records that are the results of the work of research and investigation carried out by researchers. In this light, libraries do have enormous untapped potential for market and survey researchers.

Data from government or non-government agencies

Government sources of secondary data are the most important for your market research — they are the least expensive and almost exhaustive resources to tap into. Non-government sources are also very useful for marketing research purposes — they can be an excellent secondary resource, including press releases, articles, business and news magazines, and more.

It may be in a format that is easy to manipulate or already drilled down to the level you need for immediate use. For example, you could have population trends from the US Census Bureau broken down into age groups from 0 to 19 years old, but the data might also be available further broken down into ages 0 to 4, 5 to 9, 10 to 14, and more detailed age categories for up to four-year increments.

Data from institutions of learning

Already available academic data sources might be invaluable and can save you thousands of dollars in agency fees. You may find them in the form of books, journals, newspapers, magazines, and web resources. Academic institutions have always remained a formidable force in the market research industry.

Academics didn’t invent secondary research, but the brick-and-mortar institutions were the first ones to monetize it and make it a pillar of market intelligence. Moreover, each institution may occupy several niches that may be directly or indirectly related to market research studies. But before you go knocking on school doors, make sure the institution is a verified expert in the matter.  

Sources of commercial information

Private agencies, expert networks, market research firms, and business consultants are also credible, accurate, and authentic sources of secondary data. The advantage is that they are readily available and up to date.

From real-world insights to a country’s economic trends and information on the political climate, these sources are evolving into products that businesses can subscribe to by the year or pay for by-the-minute and on-demand projects. It is convenient, economical, and efficient.

Final notes

In an increasingly dynamic world where decisions must be made quickly, secondary research comes to the rescue. With so many types of secondary research, the whole process may sound time-consuming as it involves research related to a certain market, niche, or even product. 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!

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