Different business people having a business meeting on marketing


Research can be seen as either a scientific investigation or a methodical search intended to find suitable information or evidences on a specific topic. The main objective of any research is to discover answers to relevant queries by applying scientific techniques. It can be very useful in collecting authentic information regarding any topic at hand. Further, the research techniques can be basically categorised into two kinds, i.e. primary research and secondary research.

The process of market research can be briefly summarised as follows:


What is Primary research?

Primary research is that kind of research where the researcher intends to acquire original and fresh information through various primary sources, and such information is known as Primary Data. It is an in-depth study of facts and evidences by the researcher himself and it requires going directly to the source for one to one communication with the people, i.e. customers and prospective  customers in the target market.

What is Secondary research?

Secondary research is that kind of research that requires clinical analysis, appropriate interpretation and lucid summarization of the primary research data. In other words, secondary research uses data which is already available through primary research. Since the available data is already analysed and interpreted, a secondary researcher’s job is to find out which all data is relevant information for his particular project.

Differences between Primary and Secondary research

The main differences between primary and secondary research are as follows:

  1. A primary research for a current problem involves collection of information straight from the horse’s mouth, i.e. first-hand information. On the other hand, a secondary research uses second-hand information, i.e. information that is obtained already through primary research.
  2. A primary research is conducted on the basis of raw data; while a secondary research is conducted on the basis already analysed and interpreted information.
  3. The source in the case of a primary research, the researcher himself or a person employed by him collects the data. On the other hand, someone else collects the data in case of a secondary research.
  4. A primary researcher intends to be deeply involved in exploration of the topic to gain thorough understanding, while a secondary researcher seeks an easy and swift process that helps to gain a broad understanding about the topic.
  5. In case of a primary research, the data collected by the researcher is often appropriate for a specific need of the researcher per se. But in case of a secondary research, the data collected by the researcher may or may not be as per his requirements, i.e. the data lacks specificity.
  6. Since a primary research involves exploration of data and facts from various sources at a very individual level, it is usually a high cost or expensive process. On the other hand, a secondary research can prove to be a very economical process because of the low cost involved in the acquisition of relevant data. It is readily available due to primary research.
  7. As far as time required is concerned, a primary research requires quite a lot of time since the research work is done from the scratch. On the other hand, the acquisition of information is already done in case of a secondary research which results in comparatively less time for the research work.

Methods of research

Some of the major primary research methods that organizations use to collect data are as follows:

Primary Research Methods  

Methods of primary market research
  • Interviews:

It is a qualitative research method that helps in collecting data through interviews that are conducted either in person (face-to-face) or over the telephone. It is an open-ended method conducted between the interviewer (researcher) and the interviewee (respondent).

  • Focus groups:

This is one of the most popular techniques and it is used to collect data from a small group of people who are specialists in the subject matter of the research.

  • Observations:

This research method does not require any direct interaction between the researcher and the subject under observation. In this technique, the researcher basically analyses the responses of the subject.

  • Online surveys:

Most researchers, now days, collect information from respondents by using online surveys. These surveys are user friendly and can be filled out online or sent on emails and can be accessed on various handheld devices like Smartphone, tablets and similar devices.

Some of the major secondary research methods that organizations use to collect data are as follows:

Secondary Research Methods

Methods of secondary research



  1. Information available on the internet:

The internet holds a lot of information which can be used by organizations according to their research requirements. Nevertheless, the organizations should be aware that authentic information can only be gathered from trusted websites.

  1. Public libraries:

Public libraries are another good source for data for secondary research as they have photocopies of important research of the past. Usually, they have collection of business directories, government publications along with market statistics and newsletters.

  1. Government and non-government agencies:

Government and non-government agencies are also reliable source of data for secondary research. Such agencies are repository of valuable and relevant national and international level data that can be used by organizations.

  1. Educational Institutions:

Although often overlooked, more number of research works is done in colleges and universities than in any other business sector. Also, the data collected by the educational institutions are mostly for primary research.

Benefits of research

Some of the benefits of primary research are as follows:

  1. Information that is collected is first-hand and accurate. Further, this type of research method is usually modified to suit specific requirements of an organization.
  2. It primarily focuses on problem at hand and as such the entire attention is towards finding a plausible solution to a particular subject matter. Also, it allows a researcher to go to the depth of the subject matter.
  3. An organization can control the information collected through primary research, such as how data is collected and used.

Some of the benefits of secondary research are as follows:

  1. A secondary research uses information which is readily available and there are many such data sources from where relevant data can be gathered and used.
  2. This is a comparatively economical method that also consumes less time as the required data is already available.
  3. The feasibility of a primary research can be determined by conducting a secondary research and checking its effectiveness. Therefore, an organization can evaluate the cost of conducting the primary research.
  4. A secondary research can be completed within a few weeks based on the objective of business.


As we have seen in this article, both primary and secondary research have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. A primary research is more precise and the quality of work is also well up to the mark, but then it can be very costly and time consuming. On the other hand, a secondary research can be very economical and the process of data collection is comparatively less hectic, but then there is always a possibility that the data may be outdated, stale and may not suit the requirements of the project. So, before selecting between primary and secondary research, it is important that the researchers knows his requirements, sources of information, cost of research, etc. to be able to choose the best research method for his project.