Primary Research and Secondary Research

During the process of research, an organization gathers data for analyzing various phenomena. The study helps in making informed strategic decisions. Primary and Secondary research is will be addressed in this blog.

Consider a restaurant in town on a busy street. The restaurant is facing increasing competition from the existing eateries and the upcoming ones in the surrounding areas. Driven by curiosity, the owner of the restaurant would like to know more about the competitors. So, he decides to do some research.

Let’s say the restaurant would like to obtain some information which is targeted specifically at their own information needs. Here’s introducing Primary Research or Field Research.

They could –

  • Prepare a questionnaire and interview customers
  • Invite customers for a focus group interview
  • Observe and gather details on the customer behaviour at the restaurant
  • Leverage analytics and set up specific goals to track online customer behaviour
  • Track Social Media interactions

Primary data is generated specifically for our purpose. It is targeted precisely at our individual requirements. The information is not readily out there in the form that we require. Gathering primary data could be time-consuming and sophisticated too.

Here’s how it would work with Secondary Research.

They could –

  • Access business databases to find details about other competitors probably at a fee
  • Gather information from their own financial accounts and compare with the competitor’s business data
  • Visit competitor’s website, social media sites and gain insights on their online presence and customer engagement
  • Check how customers are reviewing the competitors on different online platforms

Secondary data is not explicitly generated for our purpose – in this context, the data was initially meant for general use and not for the benefit of the restaurant. It is not targeted precisely at our requirements. The data is already out there – only needs to be tapped according to the need.

When it comes to choosing between the two, we first need to gauge if the secondary data would be sufficient to make decisions upon, or if there is a need for more targeted (primary) information. We also need to keep in mind factors like time, money, people and skills required to carry out the research. In an ideal case, a combination of secondary and primary research would be an optimal solution.

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