"Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought."
     Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Some businesses understanding of their customers are as varied as the businesses themselves.  Some businesses conduct thorough and in depth research consistently over time.  Some businesses do little research and operate on “gut feel” and “experience”.  The problem with the latter is in this fast paced digital age, consumers and markets change.  Competitive environments change and attitudes change.  MarketStrategy.ca will provide both primary and secondary research to help you make better decisions about your business, your brand, your competition and your customer.

Primary Research Definition

Primary research consists of a collection of original primary data. It is often undertaken after the researcher has gained some insight into the issue by reviewing secondary research or by analyzing previously collected primary data. It can be accomplished through various methods, including questionnaires and telephone interviews in market research, or experiments and direct observations in the physical sciences, amongst others.

The term primary research is widely used in academic research, market research and competitive intelligence.

There are advantages and disadvantages to primary research.


  • Researcher can focus on both qualitative and quantitative issues.
  • Addresses specific research issues as the researcher controls the search design to fit their needs
  • Great control; not only does primary research enable the marketer to focus on specific subjects, it also enables the researcher to have a higher control over how the information is collected. Taking this into account, the researcher can decide on such requirements as size of project, time frame and goal.


  • Compared to secondary research, primary data may be very expensive in preparing and carrying out the research. Costs can be incurred in producing the paper for questionnaires or the equipment for an experiment of some sort.
  • In order to be done properly, primary data collection requires the development and execution of a research plan. It takes longer to undertake primary research than to acquire secondary data.
  • Some research projects, while potentially offering information that could prove quite valuable, may not be within the reach of a researcher.
  • By the time the research is complete it may be out of date.
  • Low response rate has to be expected.

An example of primary research in opinion research: the government wants to know if people are pleased with how the government is being run, so they hand out questionnaires to the public asking if they are happy and, if not, how to improve.

An example of primary research in the physical sciences: Can the transition temperature of high-temperature superconductors be increased by varying the composition of the superconducting material. The scientist will modify the composition of the high-Tc material in various ways and measure the transition temperature of the new material as a function of its composition.

All research, whether primary or secondary, depends eventually on the collection of primary research data.

Source: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primary_research

Secondary Research Definition

Secondary research (also known as desk research) involves the summary, collation and/or synthesis of existing research rather than primary research, where data is collected from, for example, research subjects or experiments.[1]

The term is widely used in medical research, legal research, and in market research. The principal methodology in medical secondary research is the systematic review, commonly using meta-analytic statistical techniques, although other methods of synthesis, like realist reviews and meta-narrative[2] reviews, have been developed in recent years. Such secondary research uses the primary research of others typically in the form of research publications and reports. In a market research context, secondary research is taken to include the re-use by a second party of any data collected by a first party or parties. In archaeology and landscape history, desk research is contrasted with fieldwork.

Sometimes secondary research is required in the preliminary stages of research to determine what is known already and what new data is required, or to inform research design. At other times, it may be the only research technique used. A key performance area in secondary research is the full citation of original sources, usually in the form of a complete listing or annotated listing. Secondary sources could include previous research reports, newspaper, magazine and journal content, and government and NGO statistics.

Source: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secondary_research