Market research and market reports

Primary and secondary market research


Once you have identified the information you need, you can start gathering it. Sources of market research may be 'primary' or 'secondary'. It is a good idea to first conduct secondary market research, then do your own primary research.

What is primary market research?

Primary market research is either conducted by your business or by a research agency you have hired. It is also known as 'field' research. It is tailored to find the specific information your business needs. You could use it to test customer opinion on your new product or learn how your audience perceives your brand.

Some examples of primary market research include:

  • questionnaires
  • focus groups
  • examining your businesses own data eg sales and inquiries
  • customers' online behaviour

What is secondary market research?

Secondary market research comes from information already gathered by external organisations. It is also known as 'desk' research. It provides general information about the market and isn't based on your own business. There are many free sources of secondary market research. The research may be detailed and useful, but it isn't tailored to your specific needs.

Sources of secondary market research include:

  • your local business reference library (such as Invest NI's Business Information Centre)
  • your trade association
  • your local council or chamber of commerce
  • the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) for information on the economy, population and social trends
  • business news, including online, local newspapers and business or trade publications
  • commercial publishers of market reports - including KeyNote, Euromonitor, Mintel, Datamonitor, The Economist Intelligence Unit and Market & Business Development

For other useful sources of data, see how to do competitor research.