Market research is “ The function that links the consumer, customer and public to the marketer through information-information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine and evaluate marketing performance; and improve the understanding of marketing as a process” definition by American marketing association (cited by Burns and Bush 2003, p no. 7). Market research is conducted either with the help of primary data or secondary data. If secondary research is cost and time effective, primary research is ahead of secondary research by providing up-to date data
1.1. “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” (Zora Neale Hurston). Research helps in decision making process and includes designing, gathering, analyzing and reporting. Marketing research can be conducted either through primary data or with the help of secondary data, Burns and Bush (2003). 1.2 Secondary research, sometimes also known as “Desk research” can be defined as collecting, analyzing and summarizing existing research. Stewart and Kamins (1993) in their book have defined secondary research as an archived data which has already been collected by others. Before 90’s, secondary research was carried through access of libraries only and with the invention of internet and online databases, it’s popularity increased and presently it is the most widely used method which acts as a base to analyze what is already known and what new data is required. Company websites, magazines, journals and all published texts constitute secondary data.
Robson (2000 cited by Saunders 2009) have classified secondary data into three categories which are documentary data, survey-based data and data compiled from multiple sources. 1.3 According to Ghauri and Gronhaug (2005 cited by Saunders 2009), secondary data helps in saving time, cost and provides an easy access to enormous resources which helps an individual to focus more on analyzing and interpreting large sets of data that has already been collected by different methods. During our research for presentation material on fragrances, direct access to secondary data through university electronic library account saved a lot of time as all the data was readily available. According to Stewart and Kamins (1993 cited by Saunders 2009), secondary data is high quality data as it has already been researched by experts.
Moreover, readily available secondary data makes our longitudinal studies more feasible and thus a variety of sources gives a right to public to access information for little or sometimes no cost (Prescott, 2008). Some of the examples of the databases which provide reliable and valid information are Business source premier, Key note, Swetswise, Mintel etc. Another important advantage of secondary data is that it helps an individual to compare data with their findings or sometimes helps them to triangulate it which can direct to unpredicted or astonishing discoveries. It means a researcher can get a variety of information from different databases for his decision making and thus does not rely on a single source.
1.4 Ease of access, low acquiring cost, clarification of research questions are some of the important advantages of conducting secondary research however it has some disadvantages also. According to Denscombe (2007 cited by Saunders 2009), secondary data is not always presented in a form which would satisfy a researcher’s needs. One of its main reasons is either the data is out-dated or the methods of collecting that information would have been different which thus may offer information of very less value in fast changing market. Therefore it becomes important for a researcher to check the validity and reliability of the information. Another disadvantage of secondary research is that sometimes gaining access to secondary data becomes costly. According to Saunders (2009), market reports produced by big research firms like Mintel and Keynote costs a lot and thus researchers may not get the full version access to get full value of their research.
2.0 As per experts it is easy and quick to conduct secondary research but what makes people carry primary research? According to (Hague et.al 2008), the main reason for it is that people do not know how to locate the information and thus secondary research lays a base for primary research and thus helps in its increments. Primary research also increments the secondary data such as journals and magazines by reducing its inaccuracies and biasness. Therefore knowledge of conducting primary research is beneficial for filling this gap.
During our research for presentation material on fragrances, although readily available secondary data saved our time and cost but the major problem which we faced was that different statistical data related to same topic provided by different journals which affected our decision making process. Data being biased and inaccurate would have led us to a wrong decision because the researchers might have gathered the information based on different opinions and during different time periods. According to Burns and Bush (2003), there are massive examples when research based on secondary data said about any product failure but the product actually became a success story.
Primary research helps us to gather information about specific segments but it requires facilities, budget and commitment of personnel and thus makes an individual to use secondary sources as a foundation. On the other hand, secondary sources help reduce the amount of time and effort spent to gather information about a research proposal. It is not time bound hence a researcher can gather information from different time periods and not rely only on present information. It is a SMART way of knowing what others have known and worked on and applying that data according to your understanding. The acronym SMART helps formulate plans for secondary research in which the letters stand for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Not Time-bound.
* Burns, A. and Bush, R. (2003) “Marketing research, Online research applications (4th Edition)”, Pearson hall international, USA
* Christ, P. (2012), “Knowthis marketing basics” [Available at http://www.knowthis.com/principles-of-marketing-tutorials/data-collection-low-cost-secondary-research/secondary-research-disadvantages/] accessed: 12 Nov,2012
* Hague, P., Hague, N. and Morgan. C, (2008), “Market research in practice: a guide to basics”, Kogan page limited, Great Britain
* Prescott, A. (2008), “Advantages and disadvantages of secondary research” [Available at http://prosandconsofsecondaryresearch.blogspot.co.uk/] accessed : 12 Nov, 2012)
* Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2007) “Research methods for business students (4th Edition)”, Financial Times/Prentice Hall, England
* Stewart, D. and Kamins, M. (1993), “ Secondary research: Information sources and methods ( Second Edition)”, Sage publications, UK