This is the second article in a five-part series entitled Market Research – Intelligence to Drive Your Business, contributed by Susanne Bowen of S J Bowen & Associates.  Susanne is one of our valued partners at DSE.


Secondary Market Research is information that has already been gathered, organized and published by others. Sources include information collected by public and private entities, such as: government agencies, trade associations, internet and magazine articles, company websites and research reports.  While published research reports are typically fee-based, they can provide a comprehensive examination of an industry, specific market segment, and consumer purchasing behavior.

Sometimes, however, secondary market research does not get the job done. The information required either does not exist or does not have the breadth or depth to properly equip the organization in making an informed and confident business decision.


Primary Market Research is conducted when there is little to no information available on a specific area of concern.  Primary research can be conducted using either a qualitative approach (focus groups, in-depth interviews, surveys, social media monitoring) or a quantitative approach (respondents’ responses are analyzed).

Qualitative research is exploratory in nature, allowing for a more flexible dialog with the respondent. It may be used to gain a deeper understanding of underlying market forces, competitor dynamics, and potential opportunities when conducting an industry analysis. In consumer research, qualitative research is useful for understanding preferences, opinions and motivations for a product or service, or the reaction to a new product concept.

Quantitative research can range from the more routine to the complex depending on the technical nature of the research and respondent type. For example:

  • A survey to assess overall employee engagement and job satisfaction can be conducted with relative ease via Survey Monkey; alternatively
  • With multiple study populations, different questions are often asked of the respondent groups. In such cases, logic and branching is included in the questionnaire to obtain unique population responses and various statistical analysis may be performed to obtain deeper insight into the results.

Primary research conducted by external vendors can be expensive depending on the sample size and depth of questioning, but it offers many benefits including third party objectivity and expertise in designing, fielding, analyzing and compiling results.

So… you’ve done your research, but have you collected the proper metrics and data to ensure informed and confident decision-making?  Stay tuned for the next post in our series:  Obtaining the Data You Need.