Secondary research can be described as the most widely used method for data collection. This process involves accessing information that is already gathered from either the originator or a distributor of primary research. Secondary research includes collecting information from third-party sources such as company websites, sales and accounting records, magazine articles and marketing research reports. It also includes any previously gathered information used by the marketer from any internal or external source.
Ease of Access
There are many advantages to using secondary research. This includes the relative ease of access to many sources of secondary data. In the past secondary data accumulation required marketers to visit libraries, or wait for reports to be shipped by mail. Now with the availability of online access, secondary research is more openly accessed. This offers convenience and generally standardized usage methods for all sources of secondary research.
Low Cost to Acquire
The use of secondary data has allowed researchers access to valuable information for little or no cost to acquire. Therefore, this information is much less expensive then if the researchers had to carry out the research themselves.
The use of secondary research may help the researcher to clarify the research question. Secondary research is often used prior to primary research to help clarify the research focus.
May Answer Research Question
The use of secondary data collection is often used to help align the focus of large scale primary research. When focusing on secondary research, the researcher may realize that the exact information they were looking to uncover is already available through secondary sources. This would effectively eliminate the need and expense to carry out there own primary research.
May Show Difficulties in Conducting Primary Research
In many cases, the originators of secondary research include details of how the information was collected. This may include information detailing the procedures used in data collection and difficulties encountered in conducting the primary research. Therefore, the detailed difficulties may persuade the researcher to decide that the potential information obtained is not worth the potential difficulties in conducting the research.
Quality of Research
There are some disadvantages to using secondary research. The originators of the primary research are largely self-governed and controlled by the marketer. Therefore, the secondary research used must be scrutinized closely since the origins of the information may be questionable. Moreover, the researcher needs to take sufficient steps to critically evaluate the validity and reliability of the information provided.
Not Specific to Researcher’s Needs
In many cases, secondary data is not presented in a form that exactly meets the researcher’s needs. Therefore, the researcher needs to rely on secondary data that is presented and classified in a way that is similar to their needs.
In many cases, researchers find information that appears valuable and promising. The researcher may not get the full version of the research to gain the full value of the study. This is because many research suppliers offer free portions of their research and then charge expensive fees for their full reports.
When using secondary research, one must exercise caution when using dated information from the past. With companies competing in fast changing industries, an out-of-date research reports many have little or no relevance to the current market situation.
In conclusion, the use of secondary research offers many significant advantages to the researcher. It is important for the researcher to identify, reduce, and manage the disadvantages that are accompanied by the use of secondary research.
Secondary Research Handbook
Lessons in Marketing Research