When a company is carrying out market research in order to make their product as successful as possible they can use either primary or secondary research.

So let’s go through each one and see how a business can use this information to its advantage.

Primary market research, also known as field research, involves collecting original data, such as making an online survey for customers. Secondary market research, also known as desk research, involves the analysis of pre-existing data, such as government statistics.

There are three main methods of primary market research:
– A business may experiment with new products or sales methods and note how customers respond to it.
– A business may make relevant observations, such as customer behaviour in a shop or their browsing habits.
– A business may wish to survey people, such as creating an online questionnaire or interviewing groups of customers.

This next bit is quite text heavy, but bear with it!

Primary data can be collected using a number of methods:
– Focus groups are small groups chosen by a business to present their views on a selected topic, such as their opinions on a potential new advertising campaign. They are useful because detailed discussion of the topic can occur and they may highlight issues that might not have been originally considered, but they are not representative of the wider population or even a whole customer base.
– Businesses want to know the opinions of their customers, so often include a phone number on products which allows customers to give feedback on these products. However, this method may be used more by only occasional or existing customers, rather than regular or potential new ones. Feedback can also be given by suppliers, such as how its practices compare with its competitors.
– Businesses often post questionnaires to customers or ask people questions in the street; however the response rates to these can often be low, as people do not want to spend their time filling in a survey. This means that any responses may not be representative of an entire customer base. It is also important that those conducting the questionnaire have appropriate training so that it is conducted properly.
– Another form of survey is over the phone, which is often cheaper than postal questionnaires. However, this presents similar issues in that people may be unwilling to answer surveys.
– The use of the Internet is becoming an increasingly common form of research. Customers can provide feedback on a business website, and businesses are also able to find out people’s browsing habits and the number of hits a website gets. This may provide key information in regards to potential customers. The Internet is also a source for secondary data.


So, what are the advantages of using primary market research? Well, primary research can be advantageous to an entrepreneur because it will not be out-of-date, and can also be tailored specifically to that business.

However, it is more at risk of human error, meaning that mistakes can be made and producing incorrect results (such as interviewing too few customers), as well as often being an expensive and time-consuming process (a business may have to pay someone to produce a survey for them).

In contrast using secondary research can have a number of advantages for an entrepreneur. As information can be found from a number of sources, such as the Internet and academic journals, it can be collected both quickly and cheaply.

Entrepreneurs can also pay for data collated by specialist market research companies. The government also produces a high range of statistics that cover the entire population, a task that may be difficult for smaller companies.

Start-up businesses also rely heavily on secondary research because, well, it’s cheaper!

If start-ups do decide to carry out primary research it is likely to be extremely limited. Cheap primary research may be inaccurate (as the business may have to employ poorly-qualified researchers) or too vague to be useful.