Primary and Secondary Sources

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Primaryand Secondary Sources


Theprimary data is also called the raw data. The primary sources are thesources of raw data, which occur in either a controlled or anuncontrolled environment. For instance, a controlled environment isan experiment where the researcher controls particular variables(Malhotra,p54).On the other perspective, the data that is collected through aquestionnaire survey or by observation in a natural setting is theexample of an uncontrolled source of primary data.

Assuch, it means that the primary data entails the first-hand evidencethat has been left behind by the observers or by the participants atthe time of the occurrence of events. The primary data oftenoriginate at the time that the researchers are investigating. Theyare usually distinct, but they offer direct evidence, or first-handtestimony about the subject under investigation. The recorders orwitnesses who experience the conditions or the events underdocumentation usually create the primary data. The primary data ischaracterized by its content, whether it is present in its originalformat, in published format, in digital format, or in a microfilm. Insummary, the primary data is the type of information, which theresearcher can collect specifically for the objective of his or herresearch project. Its main advantage is that is usually tailored tothe specific needs of research. Nonetheless, it is usually expensiveto collect, and time-consuming.

Thetypical examples of the primary data are the interviews,questionnaires, and observation. A questionnaire is the list of thequestions, which are pre-written, and they are usually given to therespondents to fill in. For instance, a company may want to know howpeople perceive its products on the market. As such, the company willprepare a questionnaire with prewritten questions, and distributethem to the consumers. The information provided by the customers willbe the primary data, using the questionnaire as the primary source ofdata. The questionnaire is a primary data because it channels all itsresponses to the specific needs of the researcher, and theinformation provided is first hand.

Directobservation is the study of an event or people by directly watchingthem. For instance, to determine the buying behavior of theconsumers, the direct observation can involve the investigatorwatching the activities of individuals as they do their shopping. Theresearcher can count the commodities that the consumers buy. Bydirectly observing these buyers, the company can identify the bestproduct on the market, and this can assist the firm in making theirproduction decision. The best way of collecting the primary datausing this method is by writing some notes. However, there is also aparticipant observation method, where the research joins the peoplebeing investigated and does with them what they are doing, butcollecting some data. Observation is a primary data because it givesfirst-hand evidence.

Lastly,an organization can use interviews for primary data. For instance,the team of researchers may want to determine the consumers’experiences concerning their newly introduced service. A section ofthe research may entail interviewing the consumers by telephoneconcerning their experiences the responses will be the primary databecause they will offer specific information concerning theconsumers’ experiences. From this primary data, the management mayknow where and how to make the necessary changes, which will suit theneeds, and meet the requirements of the customers.


Secondarydata is the information collected for a different purpose other thanthe current research project but contains some utility and relevancefor one’s research. There can be internal and external sourceswhereas internal sources entail data that exists and is stored in theorganization (Malhotra,p54).On the other hand, external data is collected by other agencies orpeople in the external environment. Secondary data is used to surveya variety of business and marketing problems because of itscost-effectiveness and high speed of acquiring the data hence saveson time. It is significant to analysts of economic and social changessince it is impossible to carry out a new survey that sufficientlycaptures past developments and changes. Below are three of the fivetypes of secondary data that a company uses to collect data and helpit in its decision making processes:

  1. Sales data reports

Itis an internal source of data and contains data on competition,sales, changes in the marketplace, and territorial activities. Ithelps the company identify any potential target markets, competition,and sales trend. With the data, forecasts about the future revenuesand sales can be made for example sales activities help identify andmonitor the daily sales activities in the future. A company with suchinformation can formulate its marketing strategies correctly forexample pricing and promotion. Sales data report is a secondarysource of data because it helps the researcher in predicting futuresales volumes but in a real sense, it was not collected for thatpurpose. It could have been collected to ensure accountability in theorganization.

  1. Feedback forms from customers

Theyare also an internal source of data whereby the company receives dataon the feedback forms of customers collected on-premises. They allowcustomers vote for standard items, rate some of its products, andindicate their satisfaction levels like delivery time,professionalism, and service response time. From such a survey, thecompany can identify the products to major on in their organizationby the opinions and preferences of their customers. Since the formsrequire the filling of names, gender, age, and contact information, atarget market can be identified. Feedback from customers isconsidered the secondary source of data because they are collected todetermine the gaps that exist in the market concerning customersatisfaction. However, in the long run, it is used to execute thecompany’s goals like market segmentation and tailor making productssuit specific customers.

  1. The internet

Itis an external source of secondary data where marketing and financialinformation is obtained from the internet as a result of increasedadvancements in technology. Search engines like Google make theinternet a developing source of secondary data. Many companies havewebsites containing substantial information about their markets,products, and current services. Therefore, monitoring of competitorsbecomes easier as new stories and press releases are tracked. Thecompany can also obtain significant information concerning the likesand dislikes of its target market through social media platforms likeTwitter and Facebook hence engineer their products to meet theseneeds. The internet is a secondary source of information because theinformation is placed there to keep people informed about aparticular company but the competitors take advantage of thesituation and use the information for reasons not intended by thewebsite owners. They take the information and try to work on theirplans and goals to fight against the competitors.


Malhotra,Naresh K. Review Of Marketing Research. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E.Sharpe, 2010. Print.