Secondary market research

Secondary research exploits existing resources like company records, surveys, research studies and books and applies the information to answer the question at hand. It is normally less time consuming than primary research, and can be less expensive as well.

While secondary research is less targeted than primary research, it can yield valuable information and answer some questions that are not practical to address through primary research (such as assessing macro-economic conditions) or questions that may make customers uncomfortable if asked directly (such as questions on age and income levels).

The following are examples of questions that can be addressed through secondary research:

What are the current economic conditions that my business is operating in? Are these conditions changing?

International, national, provincial and local economic conditions

  • What trends are influencing the industry my business operates in?
  • Consumer preferences
  • Technological shifts
  • Prices for goods and services

Are there international markets for my products and services that could help me to grow my business?

  • What are the demographic characteristics of my customers or where do they live?
  • Populations, age groups, income levels, etc.

What is the state of the labour market?

  • How many people have the skills I require?
  • How much should I expect to pay my employees?

Existing company records such sales invoices, receipts and formal complaints are important secondary resources that businesses can utilize. Often times these records shed light on the same issues businesses seek to address through primary research, and therefore an examination of company records should be done before considering a customer survey or other form of primary research. Some specific examples of using existing company data in market research include:

  • Examining sales receipts to find trends in the demand for particular goods and services
  • Cross referencing sales receipts with customer addresses or products and services to determine the effectiveness of advertising
  • Compiling complaints to determine areas for improvement in customer service, prices or products and services offered