The following blog post was written by Josh Elander, Research Associate at RMS.
Data is everywhere these days. It’s nearly impossible not to encounter at least one form of it in the business world on a regular basis, whether you’re a client or market research supplier. But not all data is created equal – primary and secondary research may provide different levels of value depending on the organization. Hundreds of market research vendors provide a range of third party data that can be used to complete secondary research that your company can rely on when drafting a business strategy. This type of research is defined by acquiring existing data that’s often broad or conducted by a third party to gain insights on a particular topic. Website analytics, demographic and trend analyses, and even census and household data are examples of widely used secondary research. Similarly, first-party data acquired by primary research methods such as surveys, focus groups, and in-depth interviews obtain information straight from the source. A question we hear often at RMS is “which type of research is best to use for my business?” The answer often depends on the reason for the research. Let’s take a look.
In some cases, we recommend conducting both primary and secondary research together to gain a representative perspective from the target market. You really can never have too much research to rely on. Secondary data and research is often easily accessible and available for free online, making it an efficient and cost-effective means of securing general information. In many cases, primary research can be used to confirm, enhance, or refute other secondary data to better understand a topic within your target audience.
One of the drawbacks of using only secondary sources of data is the inherent lack of specific data on your particular market. As a financial institution, a national study on Millennials’ banking habits might help with formulating a beginning strategy for that age group on a new initiative your company wants to roll out. However, this is broad information covering a large range of geographic and demographic samples and likely without insights to advise your project. Knowing what percentage of Millennials use mobile banking only goes so far – using primary research such as interviews or focus groups to put your product in front of a test audience of Millennials in your market area will provide the information needed to make strategic business decisions.
Any data is better than no data, but reliable data obtained from first-hand (primary) research will prove invaluable when combined with and used to validate data acquired by secondary means. RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 866-567-5422.