How to Conduct Secondary Research?
Market research is extremely crucial for the success of any business endeavor in the present day and age. In order to survive the cut-throat competition, it's important for businesses to conduct market research to keep a tab on the emerging market trends, competitors, target demographics, economic shifts, and the buying patterns of their customers.
Though primary research is the stepping stone to any online market research, organizations lack time and resources to conduct preliminary research from scratch. Conducting secondary market research is therefore the most widely used method to leverage assembled and ready-made data to draw meaningful business insights.
Secondary research makes use of a data that is not collected by the researcher himself! Therefore, if you want to conduct secondary research, you need to get your hands on primary research data.
Secondary data can be categorized into two types; internal data and external data. You can leverage the following types of data, to conduct your first secondary research -
Internal Data is the data gathered from internal databases, applications and tools of the researcher's firm, and is often the first line of enquiry, as competitors can't have access to it, and is exclusive to the firm. It's the most convenient, fastest available and cheapest source of market research information.
Some examples of internal secondary research data are:
- Departmental records
- Records of previous advertising / marketing campaigns to see what works and what doesn't
- Old copies of invoices and sales figures to spot and predict future trends
- Loyalty cards to help researchers understand customer buying patterns and design promotional campaigns effectively
External data comes handy if a project is new and when there is no internal data to bank on, or if the internal data is incomplete or irrelevant or has become obsolete. In such cases, you can rely on following types of external secondary data sources -
- Media sources
- Data compiled by Government statistics
- Data accumulated by commercial market research organizations
- Competitor data, gathered through company reports, websites
- Data published in trade Publications and trade associations
- Information published in newspapers, magazines, and other such general media
You can follow the below mentioned secondary research methodology to conduct your own research successfully -
- Identify research topic and where to get the information from
Before commencing Secondary Research, define the area of research and list out questions you need answer for by the end of the process. Basically, you need to narrow down your search topic, identify the research domain and finalize which information source to use to get required data
- Gather existing data
Once the area of research and source is decided, you need to start collecting the existing data and break it down into keywords and synonyms, so get concrete results
- Compare data from different sources, and normalize it
In most cases, the data retrieved from different sources will be in different formats, so you need to normalize it as a uniform database
- Analyze the data
Review the findings and determine whether you have got all the answers to the questions you had in step one, and repeat all the steps again if you feel the need to dwell further for actionable insights
- Ideas or concepts discussed during the brainstorming sessions for Secondary Research can hold the key to future secondary research. So, make a note of each and every conversation held at different stages of the creative process
- Cross-verify the credibility of any data gathered from the Internet
- Online data can be modified without a prior notice, so if you use websites as the source of your secondary data, take screenshots for future reference
- Go through the appendix and references to check the credibility of reports and statistics
- Pay more importance to detailed references, as that data is deemed more credible
- There is no point in spending too much time on copying or summarizing secondary research data, as it gains value only when this data is critically reviewed by the researcher, and actionable results are drawn
You can follow the techniques and guidelines mentioned above to conduct your first secondary research. In case you are hard pressed for time and resources, you can opt for primary and secondary market research services from a reliable outsourcing vendor.
You can leverage the following advantages of secondary research by outsourcing to a right partner -
- Low research costs
- Clarity in research objectives
- Easy access to reliable primary research data on a larger scale
- No need to waste resources on irrelevant project proposals, as they have the experience to distinguish between a good and a bad project, and rule out ideas with no or less potential (ex. Research work already in progress under a competitor)
- Judgment to select the right data source at the right price
- Time saved in finding secondary research data can be used to drive actionable results
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