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The difference between primary and secondary market research

Market research can be divided into two camps – primary and secondary market research. But which option is the best for your unique goals, budget and research capabilities? Let’s find out.

Primary Market Research

Primary market research is original research you conduct yourself or commission from an agency. This process gathers consumer information and feedback directly from the source. Data can be quantitative or qualitative, depending on your goals and research method.

Primary Methods

  • ​​SurveysSurveys ask respondents a series of open and/or closed-ended questions. They’re low-cost and easiest to conduct across a large number of respondents from various geographic locations.
  • InterviewsInterviews are in-person conversations with consumers. This method is more expensive and time-consuming, but can produce in-depth responses. Compared to surveys, interviews record non-verbal cues like body language and vocal inflection.
  • Focus groups – Focus groups bring together multiple consumers from target demographics to discuss a brand, product, user experience or marketing campaign. Focus groups are also expensive and can be subject to biases such as moderator style or a dominant member.
  • Observation session – During an observation session, an outside observer will watch customers engage with a product without the influence of a moderator. This method can eliminate interviewer bias, but lacks the feedback produced by conversation. 

Secondary Market Research

Secondary market research is publicly available information published by independent third party sources.

Secondary Methods

  • Public resources – This includes existing, publicly accessible information from sources like government agencies and public libraries.
  • Commercial resources – Commercial resources include newspapers, magazines, trade organizations and journals. These sources are not always free, but still offer easily accessible and low-cost information.
  • Educational resources – Universities and educational institutions conduct research projects that can provide relevant information on a topic or group of people at low cost.

Exploratory vs. Specific

Primary and secondary market research can be divided into two types of data – exploratory and specific.

  • Exploratory – Exploratory research utilizes unstructured interviews or open-ended survey questions to identify issues, challenges or themes. This investigative method is typically not hypothesis-driven, with the goal of uncovering unprompted consumer insights.
  • Specific – Specific research is the next step of the data gathering process. Once exploratory methods uncover a problem, specific research hones in on that specific issue. Questions are structured and uniform across respondents to gather further information on predetermined topics. 

The Final Step

Once you’ve conducted your research using your chosen method, it’s time for analysis. Relative Insight transforms both primary and secondary market research data into actionable and effective business insights. Comparative text analysis uses the power of Natural Language Processing to comb through qualitative data, recognizing themes regarding consumer behaviors and attitudes.

What Makes Relative Different?

Relative Insight analyzes two textual data sets side by side to discover statistically significant differences and similarities in topics, words, phrases, grammar and emotion. This form of analysis provides contextual understanding, revealing what opinions or preferences make a target audience unique compared to others groups.

Relative Insight goes beyond frequency analysis by weeding out the linguistic attributes that apply to all data sets – uncovering the unexpected.

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