Marketing Research

Secondary marketing research uses data that already exists and has been collected by someone else for another purpose.
Sources of secondary data can come from within the firm itself – this is known as internal secondary data. External secondary data, on the other hand, is data that has been published by other organisations
What are internal sources of secondary data?
Every department within an organisation will have its own records that represent a potential source of valuable data. For instance, records of past advertising campaigns within the marketing department can be compared with copies of invoices held in the sales department in order to judge their effectiveness and get ideas for future campaigns. Past sales figures can also be used to spot trends and forecast future figures.
The increasing availability and use of loyalty cards and big data has given businesses the chance to gather a wide range of valuable information on customer buying habits, allowing them to target promotional campaigns more effectively.
Internal sources of data should always be considered as a first line of enquiry for any investigation because they are usually the quickest, cheapest and most convenient source of information available. Internal data will also be exclusive to the organisation that generated it, so that rival firms will not have access to it.
However, internal data may be incomplete or out of date, and, if a project is new, there may be no relevant data at all. In such cases, an organisation may need to consider using external sources of secondary data.
What are external sources of secondary data?
There are several sources of existing data available from outside of the business that may be of value. These include:
Commercial market research organisations – including MINTEL, Keynote and Euromonitor
The Government – the much wider availability of open data from the government has significantly increased the availability of such data
Competitors – company reports and websites are easily accessible and contain a limited amount of information
Trade Publication
The general media

Market Research

There are two sources of information from where data for marketing research can be obtained.

(A) Internal Sources:

These refer to the sources of information within the organisation. In certain cases internal sources are indispensable without which the researcher cannot obtain desired results. Internal sources include accounting information (Trading Profit & Loss A/c and Balance Sheets of different years), salesmen’s reports, statistics in relation to advertisement expenditure, transportation costs etc. Information from internal sources is easily available and no financial burden is involved in gathering the information.

(B) External Sources:

In order to study marketing problems in detail the need of external sources of marketing research arises. External sources are of immense importance and utility in case where research needs detailed and thorough investigation. External sources data can be divided with two categories (a) Primary data (b) Secondary data.

Primary Data:

This refers to the information collected by the researcher from original sources. It is not a published data; it has to be gathered by the researcher himself by tapping various resources. Primary data is usually collected for specific purposes.

The main sources from where primary data can be obtained are (a) Salesmen (b) Dealers; (c) Consumers etc. It is a very slow process of collecting data and involves huge costs. But results obtained from this data are original and tend to be more accurate and reliable.
These sources are explained below:
(a) Salesmen:

Salesmen are the most important source of providing first hand information. They are appointed by the owners for the sale and promotion of its products. They have a direct link with the consumers understand tastes, preferences and buying habits of the consumers.
They can also know about the dealer’s reaction (especially of retailers) towards the firm’s products by taking into consideration price, design, packaging and size etc. of the product. The marketing manager may direct the salesmen to prepare periodical reports containing the information collected by them.
The information collected in this manner is original and more meaningful. This will further enhance the morale of salesmen as they feel that they are contributing towards the formulation of marketing policies of the organisation.
But sometimes information provided by salesmen is not accurate and upto the mark. The salesmen are not properly trained and do not know the methodology to collect the information properly.

(b) Dealers:
This is another source of collecting primary data. Valuable information can be collected with regard to demand of the product from retailers. Information about the marketing policies of competitors can also be gathered from the dealers.
It has been observed that sometimes this method does not prove to be fruitful as dealers do not keep proper records and they do not want to waste their time in supplying information.
(c) Consumers:
This source of collecting primary data is of great importance. Representative samples of consumers may be selected for conducting thorough investigation with regard to price, quality and use of the product. This method of collection data is very reliable as it establishes direct link between producer and the consumer.

Secondary Data:

Secondary data is already existing which has been collected and published by some individuals or institutions. This data is available at a very low cost and it requires lesser time to collect it.
The main sources of secondary data are:
(a) Periodicals and Newspapers:
Business magazines and journals published periodically contain data which is very useful for marketing research; Newspapers such as Economic Times and Financial Express also contain data regarding business trends and market reports. Important trade journals are Industrial Times, Commerce, Capital, Market, Indian Finance, Business India, Business World and others.
(b) Govt. Publications and Reports:
There are innumerable publications brought by Central and State Govts, which contain valuable data for conducting marketing research. Census reports of the Government of India, Publications of Planning Commission; periodical publication such as Indian Review, various markets bulletins.
Reserve Bank of India bulletin, publication of the Statistical Departments of various State Govts., supply valuable information extensively used in marketing research.
(c) Trade Associations:
Various trade associations like Chambers of Commerce, Export Promotion Council etc, publish useful data which is of immense help to the res warmer.
(d) Published Surveys Of Markets:
This is another useful source of supplying secondary data. Market surveys and reports are important instruments in the hands of researcher for conducting marketing research. These are published by business houses or independent research organisations. These pertain to specific lines of products.
(e) Foreign Govts, And International Agencies:
Publications of foreign Govts, with regard to trade and other important aspects of economy of respective countries and information published by UNO, ILO, IBRD (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) serve useful purpose in making comparison of Indian conditions prevailing in other countries of the world.
(f) Other Sources:
Besides the above mentioned sources of marketing research, there are many other sources of supplying secondary data e.g., colleges and universities stock exchanges and commodity exchanges, specialised libraries’, internal sources such as sales and purchase records, salesman, reports, sales orders, customer complaints and records of other companies.
The secondary data collected from above mentioned sources suffer from certain limitations. The basis undertaken by different agencies for collecting data may not be comparable. In other words, uniform basis may not be adopted for data collection. The data may be based on incomplete records under secondary source; data is collected for purposes other than marketing research.

Product orientation v Production orientation

Product orientation and production orientation are closely related concepts. However, one has more to do with the actual product in focus, while the other has more to do with the production of the product. Additionally, product orientation is typically used more in marketing strategy discussions, whereas production orientation is more of a manufacturing concept.

Production Orientation

Production orientation is a general approach to business that focuses on the manufacturing and production processes. Companies that make these processes primary focuses tend to make operational efficiencies and production optimization key objectives in improvement processes. This orientation was prominent during the industrial era and in the capitalism period of the 1950s. Says Law suggests that if a company produces good products, demand will naturally arise.


With production orientation, the focus is more on the processes of production than what is actually produced. Narrow product lines, pricing based on production costs, technical product research, packaging focused on product protection, and minimal marketing are all common traits associated with a production orientation. These traits are all opposite a marketing orientation, where the company attempts to drive demand through marketing efforts.

Product Orientation

Whereas production orientation exists when management is more concerned with production efficiency, a product orientation is when management is more concerned with product quality. Managers are often obsessed with their products when a product orientation exists. Managers typically believe their products are unique and offer distinct benefits. They focus on consistent improvement of the product with the belief that an ideal product will effectively sell itself.


Product orientation does have challenges and is often downplayed by marketing professionals. Management that is overly focused on technology development and endless pursuit of an optimized product may lose touch with the marketplace. Market-oriented companies research and stay connected with changing consumer tastes. This puts product-oriented companies at a special disadvantage in rapidly changing marketplaces where customer needs and product offerings are constantly evolving.

Sales Oriented Business

Sales-oriented businesses differ significantly from market-oriented business. Bethe Hart, marketing professional and adjunct professor at both Rutgers University and Immaculata College, explains that a sales-oriented business approach has several defining characteristics that set it apart from a market-oriented business. These include the need for aggressive selling methods, a tendency to plan for the short-term rather than the long-term, the need for heavy promotion and the assumption that consumers will buy the product if the company makes it.

Internet Marketing

One example of a sales-oriented business is an online Internet marketing company that attempts to sell consumers any number of different products. This could be, for instance, a business that attempts to sell software to consumers and other businesses to meet their needs. These types of businesses create products that are based on the assumption that the product will meet the need of the business or individual, whether they have expressed a need for the product or not.

Business-to-Business Sales

Business-to-business sales also provide another example of a sales-oriented business approach. Companies develop products that may benefit a business and then rely heavily upon aggressive marketing tactics to sell them. Examples of products sold in this type of market can include advertising sales or technologies such as point-of-sale software and machinery that will allow the business to run more efficiently and profitably. Chances are the business owner was not initially looking for the product, but did so because the salesperson showed him some benefit to buying it.

Door-to-Door Sales

Another traditionally sales oriented-business model that is similar to the business-to-business model is the door-to-door sales method that some companies rely upon to sell their products. These companies will create a supposedly superior product that can be demonstrated in the home and try to show the potential consumer how it will benefit her in the long run. For example, a salesman selling the "world's greatest vacuum cleaner" may attempt to sell the product to the housewife who has a toddler crawling around on the dirty carpet.

Home Improvement

Various types of home improvement products can also provide the occasion for the establishment of sales-oriented business approach. These, too, are sometimes sold on a door-to-door basis, but they are often peddled over the phone first to get the interest of the homeowner and establish an appointment to show the product. While many consumers do have a need or even a desire for such products and may seek them out in a large retail home improvement store, some will inevitably buy products because aggressive sales and marketing professionals approached or contacted them.

Sales Orientation v Product Orientation

A sales-oriented company focuses on strategies and tactics that push people toward buying products, while a product orientation tries to pull people into buying. Offering discounts is an example of a sales tactic, while adding a new feature to a product to increase demand is an example of a product-oriented strategy.

Sales Orientation

Sales strategies are often referred to as “gimmicks” because they don’t try to create a long-term demand for a product or service by improving a company’s offering. Many salespeople prefer tools such as discounts, buy-one-get-one-free promotions, free website banners when a customer buys a print ad or other means of stimulating sales. Improving the circulation of a magazine increases the quality of the magazine for advertisers as a whole, but a 25 percent discount to a particular advertiser may seem like a more direct benefit to a less sophisticated buyer.

Product Orientation

Product-oriented companies keep in mind the adage, “Build a better mousetrap and world will beat a path to your door.” This strategy assumes that if you offer a superior product or service, customers will buy from you without your having to resort to discounts or other gimmicks. Product-oriented companies work with marketing departments to learn what the marketplace wants, developing or modifying products to meet these needs. A pizzeria that offers pies with real cheese and fresh toppings might not have to offer two-for-one or other discounts if its competitors sell lower-quality pizzas.

Long-Term Effects

Sales-oriented companies can generate positive short-term sales since customers initially feel good that they are getting more for less. As customers realize they are paying less but getting less, they eventually realize they are not making a good purchase. Discounting your product may eventually cheapen its reputation in the marketplace. Product-oriented companies may take longer to generate sales, but their sales may be more stable long-term because buyers come to believe they are getting the value they need from a product or service. A product-oriented approach to sales might take too long to help a company struggling financially, while a sales orientation might result in fewer long-term customers and eventual financial instability.

Sales Tactics

Product-oriented companies that sell to business often train their salespeople in consultative marketing, which requires the salesperson to learn about the business of a potential customer. This allows the salesperson to better explain to potential clients why a product or service is best for the client. Sales-oriented companies often provide their sales force with discounts, expense accounts and other sales tools, encouraging their staff to “smile and dial.” This means calling potential clients, telling them what they want to hear and offering a benefit beyond the product. A key difference in these two sales strategies is that a sales orientation often attempts to get people to buy things they don’t really need or want, while a product orientation focuses on getting people to buy things they are looking for.

Market v Production Orientation

Marketing theory has undergone several changes since the birth of capitalism. There are several marketing terms that describe the primary focus of a company's energy and theories behind a certain type of business model. Marketing orientation and production orientation are two of these terms.

Basic Focus

The basic focus of a company with a production orientation is toward maximizing production output. Under a production orientation, a company is succeeding when it is manufacturing as many products as possible at the cheapest possible price. In contrast, a company with a marketing orientation is squarely focused on the consumer. Market-oriented companies respond to marketing research and tailor their products in accordance with what they perceive to be the demands of the market.

Approach to Customers

A business with a marketing orientation is essentially led by the needs of its customers. Marketing research outcomes determine how much of a product is produced--old products may be discontinued and new products invented based on the needs or desires of consumers. In contrast, a production-oriented company does not pay close attention to the needs of its customers and is focused primarily on making the maximum number of products. If customers are dissatisfied with its product, a business with a production orientation is more likely to look for a new set of customers than to alter its product.

Approach to Advertising

A production-oriented company does not focus a great deal of energy on advertising. A business with a production orientation sees itself as fulfilling a need and assumes that as long as customers are aware of their product and can afford, they will buy it. In contrast, market-oriented companies spend a great deal of money on advertising. A market-oriented company carefully cultivates a brand in the minds of potential customers in an attempt to influence them to buy its products instead of a competitor's products.


Production orientation and marketing orientation describe different stages in the evolution of modern business marketing. Until the early 1900s, many products were scarce and companies could therefore sell as many as they could make. This made advertising and marketing research relatively unnecessary; the way to make money was to manufacture a lot of goods as inexpensively as possible. Most companies began to adopt a marketing orientation during the 1960s. Many companies were manufacturing the same types of product, and customers were able to choose between them; therefore, companies needed to distinguish themselves from their competitors by branding, advertising and introducing new and better products.

Market research data

Is finding market research data to answer your business questions easier than you think?
Irrespective of what market research methods, tools or techniques you’re using, these data sources will help you better understand and reach customers.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised how many are readily available and quick to access.  Some are downright staring you in the face.  And many free.
Use this Ultimate Checklist of Where to Source Market Research Data.
Organized in a modern format these market research data sources considers; where data resides in organizations (of all sizes), and where we can learn in this digital world.  The traditional way of organizing market research is included for reference.

1. Your Internal Brains

This is one of the richest and most readily available sources of research data. It doesn’t require a budget; only time and the ability to ask.
Customer service, technical support and sales colleagues are familar with customers questions, influencers and more.  Each group has it owns nuance; none represent your typical customer persona.  Technical support, for example, never talks to happy satisfied customers.  So do note which information came from which department.
Ensure you ask each department/person where additional information is to be found. (You may well discover systems/data repositories you never knew existed!)
Who within your organization engages with customers and prospects?
Go and listen to them.

2. Digital Research Data Sources

With so much digital data available, this is a rich data source. While it may not answer exactly how many roads you need to walk down, peopleunderestimate what questions can be answered by internal existing data sources and third party internet data.
This is a great shame as it’s typically faster and less expensive to use existing data sources.

a). Internal Research Data Sources

  • Your Web Analytics

As the single most important sources of learning and research for marketing communications, this is where the rubber meets the road.  It answers many questions including:
  • how are people finding your website
  • what do they do when they’re on-site
  • which aspects of the website are most valuable
  • how your marketing campaigns are performing
  • and much much more
Data sources within web analytics include:
  • Website Analytics Clickstream Data: while there are others Google Analytics provides a rich source of trended data. It’s free and more than adequate for most website.
  • Heatmaps are also useful.
  • On-site (and for SaaS offers in-product) Feedback
  • Experimentation & Testing Data; such as A/B testing, and conversion rate optimization software.

  • Technical Support & Help Desk Analytics

For getting an overall handle of customer concerns this is a rich source of data. If this is a already available within your organization it’s well worth getting this sorted.
Tip: start with paper if you have to but there are loads of SaaS non-contract options

  • CRM Systems

Very useful for helping you understand what the situation is with leads and existing customers, strong teamwork with your sales folks is critical here.
  • Finance and Order Tracking

  • Other Business Intelligence Tools

  • Department-specific IT tools and resources

With the proliferation of Software as a Services (SaaS) offers for all sorts of business challenges, you may well find data sources you never even knew existed.

b). Third Party Market Data Sources

  • The Internet

As with learning from your colleagues and team, using this market research source doesn’t require a budget; only time, imagination, and smarts.
  • Keyphrase Search

To help you explore the breadth, variety and quantity of searches real people are doing online, there are keywords, or rather keyphrase, planning tools. These are wonderful sources of secondary data for all stages of understanding and reaching customers.
If you choose only one, let it be Google AdWords Keyword Planner.  I also love Moz’s Keyword Explorer tool.
  • Offical Public Statistics

Almost every country has a central statistics office with excellent quantitative data that uses rigorous best practice in data gathering and analysis.
There are lots of sources of excellent governmental public data; in my experience this is the single most underutilized source of information.
  • Industry, Trade & Governmental Research Reports

Google “open data” .  The search capabilities within these data sets is improving all the time.
  • Competitors’ Data

Not only the public website but also financial, marketing, sales and support materials are easy to obtain and fast learning vehicle.
Product Analysis Pro Tip: read the user’s manual / help.  What is well explained, quick and intuitive? What’s painful?
Tip to search within a single site type
  • “site:”.
  • For example to search for “jane morgan” on the 3xe digital site type: jane morgan .

  • Industry and Mainstream Publications, Magazines and Forums.

  • Research On Social Networks.

Consider not only your own social media analytics but also the public social network research capabilities.
Facebook Audience Insights, is great for market size and LinkedIn Search for getting a handle on job descriptions and more.  There is also Twitter Advanced Search and a myriad of social media tools and third party research offerings.
  • Online Reviews

    Google includes reviews on local search and maps. Reddit and Amazon (to name just a few) house rich sources of customer feedback.  Ask yourself: who is the TripAdvisor for my industry?
Tip: Make sure to read competitors review also.
  • Online Surveys

It has never been easier to do surveys online.  Once you know what you’re looking for and who to ask, this approach puts data behind the qualitative market research.
Unfortunately it’s terribly common to ask poor questions and to generate piles of unless, i.e. inactionable, data.  Online surveys are typically the last learning vehicle in market research after you’ve done the background research and the exploratory research.
Tip: If the first method of learning suggested is “let’s do a survey” be very nervous. (Remember asking “why” five times, is your best friend.)

4. In-Person Market Research Data Sources

Get up close and personal.
With so much digital information available, don’t forget to get out into the real world and talk to people.  It takes more time (and sometime a significant budget) to undertake this kind of learning. But it also provides an opportunity to answer your very specific questions filling in the knowledge gaps.
It’s the ultimate primary data source.  “Voice of the customer” is critical in new product development and exploratory understand, talking to people allows you to “optimize on the fly”; or in other words ask, “why is that?”.
Be well prepared, then adjust your questioning as the conversation meanders into unknown and innovative territory.
Data from in-person data sources include:
  • Face to Face Usability Testing
  • Disappointed Customer Interviews

A scary one? Unpleasant conversions with customers can be a rich source of ideas.  There’s nothing like “hearing it from the horse’s mouth” or “walking a mile in your customers’ shoes”.
Buckle up. You’re a big girl/boy now.
Tip: Bring a notebook so you can frown at the page during particularly difficult moments.
  • Conferences / Events /  Tradeshows / Meetups
A quick way to get familar with new market segments is to pick a few conferences and ‘walk the show’.
Tip: don’t discount local conference and free meetups for information learing on who’s respected in the industry, common challenges and additional data sources. It’s also nice to make contacts.
  • Focus Groups
  • Voice of the Customer Interviews

With so many market data sources that are easy to use, free, accessible, and rich, what are you waiting for?  There’s no substitute for understand customers and your market place.

If there is a market research data source missing from this list, please drop me a line: Jane at JEM 9 dot com.

The traditional method of talking about market research includes the four complementary options below.  While useful they mix ‘sources’ of data with data collection methodologies. For businesses, I have found the list of market research data sources provides a faster, more accessible faster start to learning.
Data Versus Information
The difference between data and information is critical.
‘Data’ is the facts and underlying points, (or if you’re American, data are the facts) that when analysed become ‘information’; the data has been shaped and analysed to allow action or decision making to take place.
Primary & Secondary Research Defined

Primary research undertakes examining a specific question using dedicated resources. It aims to generate new and unique answers.

Secondary research takes advantage of available data applied to a new situation; typically you explore the secondary information as it’s less expensive (or free) and already available.

Qualitative Research Defined
Qualitative methods examine the why and how of decision making as well as the whatwherewhen, or who.” Wikipedia  Results are similar to case studies; specific detailed examples.
First ‘explore’ the space using qualitative research, then firm up theories using quantitative research.
In marketing and business qualitative answers questions such as:
  • why did customers click on the blue button?
  • how do customers use alternative solutions?
  • what does the customer environment look like?
  • what alternative to our solution do prospects consider?
Quantitative Research Definition
Quantitative research attempts to valid theories using larger representative samples. It’s about counting ‘how many’.  It enables generalizations about similar groupings.
Following qualitative ‘exploratory’ research, use quantitative research to firm up theories.
In marketing and business it answers questions such as:
  • how big is this market segment?
  • how many customers fit this description?
  • how many customers use this feature?
  • which call to action results in more sales?

Approach to teaching

Methods there are many, principles but few, methods often change, principles never do