PRIMARY MARKET RESEARCH: Meaning, Methods, Examples, Comparison

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Gathering data for research purposes is crucial to the growth of any new product or service. Market research provides the insights needed to make an informed decision at every stage, from product development to developing an effective go-to-market strategy. And to keep up with this trend, more companies are conducting primary market research to better understand new markets, create products and services that customers want, and attract them with the right marketing message. This article will define and explain the various types of primary market research methods; the distinction between primary and secondary market research; and the benefits and drawbacks of each, with examples. Most importantly, you’ll understand why primary market research is beneficial to your business.

What is Primary and Secondary Market Research

Market research is generally divided into two types of research: primary and secondary.

Primary research is research that you conduct on your own (or hire someone to do it for you.) It entails asking questions and gathering information directly from a source, usually customers and prospective customers in your target market. Primary research examples include

  • Interviews (telephone or face-to-face)
  • Surveys (online or mail)
  • Questionnaires (online or mail)
  • Group discussions
  • Visits to competitors’ premises

When conducting primary research, you typically collect two types of information:

  • Exploratory: This study is broad and open-ended, and it typically consists of lengthy interviews with an individual or small group.
  • Specific: This research is more specific and is used to solve a problem discovered during exploratory research. It entails more structured and formal interviews.

Primary research is usually more expensive and takes longer to complete than secondary research, but it yields more conclusive results.

What is Secondary Market Research

Secondary research, on the other hand, is research that has already been compiled, collected, organized, and published by someone else. Reports and studies by government agencies, trade associations, and other businesses in your industry are included. Most research for small businesses with limited budgets is secondary because it can be obtained faster and more affordably than primary research.

Furthermore, a lot of secondary research can be found on the internet by simply entering keywords and phrases for the type of information you’re looking for. Secondary research can also be obtained by reading articles in magazines, trade journals, and industry publications, going to a reference library, and contacting industry associations or trade organizations.

Government agencies are an excellent source of secondary research data; this data is usually available for free. Data published by private companies, on the other hand, may require permission and, in some cases, a fee to access.

Primary Market Research vs. Secondary Market Research

So, what exactly is the distinction between primary and secondary market research? You collect data for your business needs through primary market research. Secondary market research is data that has already been gathered for other purposes but can still be useful to your company. The main feature that distinguishes one from the other is customization.

Primary research is tailored to answer your specific business questions and is aimed at a specific audience with similar characteristics as your potential customers. Secondary research, while useful for answering specific business questions, has limitations. The data gathered from that audience may not be representative of your intended audience, resulting in skewed information. In other words, if you did not collect the data yourself, it is second-hand information that will not be as reliable as primary research data.

Secondary information can also be used in secondary research. When conducting secondary research, it is critical to double-check the findings. You must ensure that any information you obtain comes from a reliable and trustworthy source.

The main advantage of secondary market research is that it prepares you for primary market research. Secondary market research will allow you to learn about the industry of a product or service as well as its proper terminology. It’s a clever way to keep you focused on the most important details of the primary market research you intend to conduct.

Considerations for Primary Market Research

It’s useful to know what to expect if you’re new to conducting primary market research. Here is a list of some of those factors to consider:

  • Cost – Plan on allocating funds for primary market research. The information gathered becomes proprietary information that you can use for years to come. It is worthwhile to pay for valuable market information.
  • Time – Using various primary research methods will necessitate some methodical planning, which will take a significant amount of time. With the right resources, you can cut down on your time spent on primary research.
  • Use of multiple methods – Marketing research typically necessitates the use of more than one primary research method. For best results, plan at least two or three different methods.

Primary Market Research Examples

Assume a grocery chain contacts a primary research firm to learn about the level of awareness of its grocery store and the key drivers behind customers’ decisions to shop at a grocery store. You may be able to find a study that was conducted through syndicated research provided by Nielsen or another agency through secondary research.

The study may cite several statistics about your grocery chain and other grocery chains, but you will quickly realize the scope is limited.

Due to the limitations of secondary research, you will not gain insight into awareness or choice drivers. You do not have the freedom to design the survey script for your needs because you were not the sole sponsor of the research through Nielsen.

Primary research, on the other hand, allows for true customization and ownership of the data. The only true and relevant way to address the two objectives listed above is to commission a study or survey from a market research vendor.

What are the 4 Types of Primary Market Research? 

Contrary to popular belief, there are only two types of primary market research. 

Basically, primary research can be quantitative, qualitative, or a combination of the two.

Non-numerical data is analyzed in qualitative research. It presents explanatory findings derived from observation, interviews, records, surveys, and focus groups. Quantitative research collects information in the form of numerical data that is presented in percentages and statistics. As a result, different types of data collection methods are required for this type of research. Quantitative research, on the other hand, includes online surveys, questionnaires, and database reports from secondary sources. In most cases, conclusive data from primary market research is a combination of qualitative and quantitative information.

What are the 5 Primary Market Research Methods 

Meaningful data is more valuable than gold in today’s technology-driven world. To make informed decisions, organizations or businesses require highly validated data. This is why many businesses are proactive in gathering their own data, ensuring data authenticity, and receiving first-hand data without any alterations.

Here are some of the primary market collection methods used by organizations or businesses. There are 4 of them which include; 

#1. Interviews (telephonic or face-to-face): 

Conducting interviews is a qualitative research method that has been used for a long time to collect data. These interviews can take place either in person (face-to-face) or over the phone. Interviews are an open-ended method that entails dialogues or interactions between the interviewer (researcher) and the interviewee (respondent).

Face-to-face interviews are said to elicit better responses from respondents because they are more personal. However, the success of a face-to-face interview is heavily dependent on the researcher’s ability to ask questions and his/her prior experience conducting such interviews. The questions used in this type of research are mostly open-ended. These questions aid in gaining in-depth insights into respondents’ opinions and perceptions.

Personal interviews can last up to 30 minutes or more, depending on the research topic. If a researcher is short on time, conducting telephonic interviews can help collect data.

#2. Online Surveys: 

Surveys, which were once conducted with pen and paper, have come a long way since then. Today, most researchers use online surveys to collect information from respondents. Online surveys are convenient because they can be sent via email or completed online. These are accessible via handheld devices such as smartphones, tablets, Ipads, and similar devices.

When a survey is deployed, respondents are given a set amount of time to complete the survey and return it to the researcher. To elicit the most information from respondents, surveys should include a good mix of open-ended and closed-ended questions. If the survey is too long, respondents will lose interest and abandon it halfway through.

It is a good practice to reward successful survey respondents for their time, efforts, and valuable information. Most organizations or businesses typically distribute gift cards from well-known brands, which respondents can redeem later.

#3. Focus Groups: 

This popular research technique collects data from a small group of people, usually 6-10 people. Focus groups bring together experts in the subject matter for which research is being conducted.

A moderator leads the focus group discussions in order to gain deeper insights. Organizations and businesses can use this method to identify niche markets in order to learn more about a specific group of consumers.

#4. Observations: 

There is no direct interaction between the researcher and the person/consumer being observed in this primary research method. A researcher observes and notes a subject’s reactions.

Reactions are recorded using trained observers or cameras. Observations are made in a controlled environment. For example, if a bakery brand wants to know how people react to its new biscuits, an observer notes consumers’ initial reactions and evaluates collective data to draw conclusions.

What Are the Benefits of Primary Market Research?

You wouldn’t necessarily be wrong if you said that secondary research is less expensive than primary research.

Secondary research may be the less expensive option, as it is frequently available online or through a database.

However, we believe that the benefits of primary market research far outweigh any associated costs.

#1. Data Ownership

Secondary market research data may be difficult to obtain. However, with primary research, you and your company have complete ownership of the data collected.

The ownership of research data is critical.

With an initial round of primary research completed, you and your company can look back and compare future waves of data to see how your company performed previously.

You are the most important benchmark in market research! With data ownership, you can see how you and your company performed over a specific time period.

#2. Relevance

You’ve spent hours looking for information on your target audience, and you’ve finally found it: a data set from a relevant study!

There is only one issue. The research was carried out five years ago.

If there is one thing we can all agree on, it is that the world is constantly changing in this day and age. Consumer attitudes and market trends shift on a regular basis, so data from a study conducted last year may not be applicable to current market conditions.

You can ensure timely and relevant data by conducting primary research now.

#3. Focused Approach

You have complete control over how a primary market research study is carried out. You can tailor the entire study to your company’s needs.

When looking for secondary research data, you may have difficulty finding information that is relevant to your company, goals and objectives, and preferred target audience.

When you can conduct a fully customized research study, you get to set the objectives, choose the methodology, and sample the audience.

At the conclusion of the study, you will have data specific to your specific, targeted audience rather than the mass market to which most secondary research applies.

The Drawbacks of Primary Market Research

One of the most significant disadvantages of primary market research is its high cost. Depending on the setup or primary research method used, a large sum of money may be required. Not all businesses or organizations are able to spend large sums of money.

This type of research can take a long time. Conducting interviews, and sending and receiving online surveys can be a time-consuming and tedious process that requires time and patience. Furthermore, time will be required for evaluating results and applying the findings to improve the product or service.

Using only one primary research method is not always sufficient. In such cases, the use of multiple methods is required, which may increase both the time required to conduct research and the cost associated with it.


Every research project has a goal in mind. Organizations or businesses conduct primary research to stay current on market conditions and consumer perception. Excellent customer satisfaction (CSAT) has emerged as a key goal and objective for many businesses.

A customer-centric organization understands the value of providing exceptional products and services to its customers in order to increase customer loyalty and reduce customer churn. Organizations conduct primary research to collect and analyze data in order to produce highly evaluated results and conclusions. Organizations can use this data to make informed decisions based on real data-driven insights.

Primary Market Research FAQs

What is primary research used for?

When individuals and organizations need to acquire input directly from target markets rather than relying on pre-existing data, primary research is often performed. Primary research provides the organization with greater control over the research process, resulting in more objective research findings.

Where can primary research be found?

A primary research article reports on the authors’ empirical research investigation. Almost invariably, it is published in a peer-reviewed publication.

Which is true about primary research?

Primary research is a methodology used by academics to acquire data directly rather than relying on data gathered from earlier research. They technically “own” the data. Primary research is conducted primarily to address a specific problem that necessitates in-depth investigation.

  1. How to Do Market Research for Your Business
  2. SECONDARY MARKET: How to Trade on the Secondary Market
  3. MARKET RESEARCH METHODS: Top 10 Effective Research Methods For Any Business.
  4. STAY INTERVIEWS: Tips for Conducting Stay Interviews (+Example questions)


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