Which Market Research Report: Primary or Secondary?

Challenges for Market Researchers.jpgMy name is Rob Kaminsky. As a Research Specialist at MarketResearch.com, I spend my days (and nights) helping clients find the best marketing research report for their business needs. Clients frequently find multiple reports that seem relevant to their current needs, but are often uncertain which would be the best fit. Choosing the right reports often comes down to the appropriate combination of primary research and secondary research that answers questions they want answered. 

For example, a large financial institution investing in a medical device company and a medical device company looking to expand their market may be looking at the same field, but what they need is entirely different. 

A large factor in determining the appropriate marketing research report is the way in which the information is gathered.  An analyst writing a report will always use a mixture of primary and secondary research to provide accurate information and conclusions, so the issue is really how much of each would be better.

  • Primary research is information gathered through surveys, interviews and other direct contact with industry experts and participants. So, if the analyst has contacted the CEO of several top medical device manufacturers to get their opinion on where the market for their products is heading, that would be primary research.
  • Secondary research is information gathered from previously published information. This includes analyzing company reports, searching trade association documents and industry journal articles. So, looking at the top medical device financial filings would be an example of secondary research.

To help my clients determine what type of research reports would provide the best results, I address two main issues: the type of questions they are trying to answer and the relationship they have with the industry they are investigating.  The questions will be either qualitative or quantitative, and the client will either be an industry outsider or and industry insider.

  • Qualitative questions like:  Why is the industry moving in a certain direction? or How is this going to take place? are most often answered through primary research. Having someone gathering up to the minute information from key experts within an industry is a very effective way to get accurate feedback on trends and developments.
  • Quantitative questions like:  How large is the market? or How much has this market segment grown compared to other segments? are more numbers oriented and are usually best answered through secondary research. Published numbers from an industry are often the most concrete data that can be used to estimate the size and projected growth of a market.

The final step I take to help my clients find the right report is figuring out whether they are an Industry Outside or Insider.

  • Industry Outsiders are clients who are trying to gain information on industries or markets they have done little or no business in. The financial company mentioned earlier is likely to be an industry outsider. For outsiders, the insights and conclusions provided by primary research will often be the key to success. 
  • Industry insiders are organizations with a great deal of prior experience in an industry such as the medical device manufacturer.  Secondary research can be a better focus for this type of client since they already know the inner workings of the industry.  They often need numbers much more than analysis.

In the end, no matter what information is needed, both primary and secondary research will have value and almost every report is a mix of the two.  So, when helping my clients, my goal is to provide a report recommendation that will strike the right balance and allow them to make the most effective business decisions.

If you want to learn more about Market Research Reports and specifically how they can help you in your business, check back for more blogs down the road.

And, for more information on using market research to help your organization grow and achieve success, download our free eBook

How to Succeed Using Market Research
Rob Kaminsky,
Research Specialist
Topics: Market Research Strategy