Secondary Market Research- For Critical Insight

In previous blogs, we have explored the significance of market research before launching a product or filing a patent with respect to an innovative product or process in particular potential marketplace. Market research generally involves two different types of research: primary market research and secondary market research. Primary market research is a tedious and expensive process, thereby most of the business owners hire someone on their behalf to perform all ground works via online/offline surveys and questionnaires, customer reviews & interviews, and visiting potential competitor’s locations. Even though primary market research gives conclusive results by providing specific and exploratory information, it’s really an expensive and time-consuming research where there is a high risk of innovative product getting obsolete before getting conclusive results from this primary market research.

Secondary market research is all about potential data collection and providing proper insight from the collected data. Secondary market research involves data collection and insight retrieved from works that already been compiled, gathered, organized, and published by others. It includes reports and studies by government agencies, trade associations or other businesses.

Secondary market research is most prominently preferred by the business owners because conclusive results are available handy in a faster phase, and also affordable in cost comparing to the primary market research. Secondary market research report may include both quantitative and qualitative information. By their name - primary and secondary, one should not confuse themselves by considering one research to be performed first and other one to be performed next. Instead, anyone can be performed first, or simultaneously (if they are affordable and with good time span), however, majority of the business owners prefer to conduct secondary market research at first due to its advantages.

Suitable time to conduct secondary market research

Now we know secondary market research, the question is- when should the researchers conduct secondary market research?

Mostly at the beginning of a research process, when the researcher is trying to understand the current landscape and the context. One can use it where high levels of control aren’t needed by the researcher and a lot of knowledge on a topic is required from different angles. In addition, if the research area is new, it can form crucial background context to help you get an idea about what information exists already. This can fill knowledge gaps by supplementing the researcher’s own learning.

Secondary market research may also be used in hand to hand with primary market research, or it can provide a base or a start that will help you to think about where further primary market research is needed to find out specific data. It can also be used to support the findings from primary research.

Secondary market research is not a replacement of primary market research, as both are very different and are used for various circumstances. Secondary market research is highly affordable due to access to free data sources.

Generally, there are two sources - External data source and Internal data source:

External data is useful when one:

1) needs information on a new topic,
2) requires to fill in gaps in his knowledge, or
3) requires data that breaks down a market or population for trend/pattern analysis.

Examples of external data include:

-Public library collections
-Textbooks or research journals
-External company reports and research data
-Competitor research and analysis
-Media stories in newspapers and insights
-Online journals and research sites
-Government, non-government agencies
-Trade body statistics
-White papers
-Analyst reports
-Customer surveys and feedback collections available
-Published market studies

Internal data is a good start for availing insights and gaining knowledge, as one may already have relevant information stored in the systems. It can give you a competitive edge. As this information is specific and confidential, henceforth it won’t be available to other researchers.

Examples of internal data include:

-Customer generated data on product
-Recordings of internal and external meetings
-Customer emails
-Previous in-house studies
-Prior internal focus groups
-Previous research results
-Previous campaign results
-Database information on sales history
-Database information on related events conducted earlier

One must consider following points while collecting data from secondary market research sources:

1> Time consumption and expenses:

One must compare time consumption and cost involved for using primary market research or second market research or both method approach.

Planning and opting for particular research is very important decision to be taken for providing a conclusive results, as practically sometimes it becomes time-consuming and expensive. So, one needs to have a balance and accordingly needs to pick the right option that seems best plus within their budget.

2> Credibility:

One cannot 100% rely on one particular source for ensuring credible, complete and accurate information. Genuineness of the data source and information has to be confirmed by analyzing wide variety of information or parameters in a broader prospective. Based on this, one can end up with factual conclusion on highly effective background analysis.

3> Specificity:

One should ensure that the data been collected is relevant, & answerable for the issues that the business needs to address.

It is of no point to spend time and money on information that may not help later as eventually everything needs to be inter-connected/inter-linked.


1>It is best to start the research by entering the topic on available open-source search engines for getting context.

2>One needs to analyze the internal sources before relying on other sources . If falling short, they can opt for other methods of research.

3>Secondary market research have several topics that leads to array of information, but it is important to conduct research in a controlled way to conclude results effectively.

4>Beside using the internet blindly, one needs to deep dive and understand public perceptions by reviewing magazines and newspapers.

5>Use only credible and multiple mainstream sources like trusted websites, government sites and public databases.

6>Secondary market research can be very affordable so one needs to check for hiring experts to conduct in an effective & efficient way.

7>At last combine the data and compare the results then understand, filter, order, and combine them to provide required conclusive results - “YES” or “NO” to launch a product, what are hurdles/challenges to be faced by a business owner after/before launching his product, Solutions for overcoming them, etc.

In conclusion, secondary market research can give you critical insights into competitors, trends, and market size. You can use this data or information to guide decision-making and product positioning. You can also see our previous blog, which is based on the importance of primary market research.