Secondary Research – Explained

Cite this article as:"Secondary Research – Explained," in The Business Professor, updated July 17, 2014, last accessed June 7, 2020,
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Secondary Market Research
This video explains what is Secondary Market Research and how it relates to market analysis.

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Secondary Research

Secondary research regards identifying and using information previously collected by third parties. Below are the most common sources of data for secondary research.

  • Professional (Trade) Resources – Professional resources include collections of data and statistics, literary material showing customer activity (such as books, magazines, guides), etc.
  • Academic Resources – These generally include empirical studies based on the collection of information or direct observation of individuals.
  • U.S. Government Sources – Government resources often provide the source of raw data for further analysis (such as population and demographic statistics).

These sources are all valid methods for determining statistical information, demographic information, industry trends, consumer purchasing patterns, etc.  Other useful resources are any industry groups in the area where your product or service is being offered. They can provide relevant insight into the level of demand for you product or service.

Sources of Secondary Data

  • Industry Relevant Publications – There are numerous publications that provide content around specific industries.
    • Standard & Poor’s Industry Surveys – S&P puts out the surveys for financial analysts, but they provide valuable insight into industry trends, major industry players.  These surveys are generally available through university or large public libraries.
  • Trade Association Publications – A basic Internet search will provide with a thorough list of industry organizations or trade association that address your type of business. Another good resource is the Gale Encyclopedia of Associations.
    • The Statistical Reference Index (SRI), published by the Congressional Information Service, reports statistical studies from major organizations, including trade associations.  A second volume, SRI Abstracts, provides brief summaries of the information included in these reports.
  • Commercial Consumer Research Publications – These publications are put out by commercial firms who wish to earn money from statistical analysis.
    • American Marketplace: Demographics and Spending Patterns: is a publication put out by New Strategist Publication that attempts to identify and list the characteristics of U.S. consumer groups.
  • Sales or Marketing Magazines – The best magazine in this field is Sales and Marketing Management Magazine.  It publishes consumer data such as population, income levels, retail sales data per household, and other key metrics in most medium and large consumer markets across the United States.
  • Sales Representatives for Media Companies – Media companies generate revenue through advertisements on their media sources.  Many larger organizations have marketing departments that actively research the breakdown of their customer markets. When they seek to sell advertising space, they provide this market information to prospective advertisers.
  • Academic Publications – Many research articles (particularly in the field of marketing) contain detailed analysis of consumer statistics. Many of these academic publications are available through the internet.
    • Google Scholar – Google Scholar is the most well-known and fasting growing free academic research tool.
    • ProQuest – ProQuest is an industry leading academic database that provides high quality search parameters for academic works.
  • Geographic Industry and Consumer Research Publications – These types of commercial publications attempt to break down industry or consumer traits by geographic area.
    • County Business Patterns (CBP) – The CBP, published by CENDATA, provides industry information analyzed by geography. This is a useful tool for analysis market trades within target locations.
    • Sourcebook of County Demographics – ESRI publication of customer demographics by U.S. County.
    • Sourcebook of Zip Code Demographics – ESRI publication of customer demographics by U.S. zip code.
    • Demographics USA – Trade Dimensions International publication that provides consumer breakdown by regions across the U.S.
  • U.S. Government Publications – Most Government publications are available online or through a local state university.  Also, any of the reports can be ordered from the Government Printing Office.
    • American Statistics Index (ASI) is an index to all of the statistical publications of the US Government.  A volume in the index, ASI Abstracts gives an abstract of every report listed within the ASI. (Reported by the Congressional Information Service.
    • US Industry and Trade Outlook – This provide general economic data from the past year and forecasts for the coming year.  (Reported by Department of Commerce)
    • Current Industrial Reports (CIR) –  The CIR provides industry reports on 5000 manufactured products in the US.  It provides information on shipping, inventories, consumption, and the number of firms manufacturing a product.
    • U.S. Censuses – The U.S. Census Bureau publishes a census every five years.  The Economic Census provides statistical information for industries, such a services, retail trade, transportation, and manufacturing.  The publications contain monthly sales figures and trends, information on sales by specific merchandise in geographic areas. An Annual Survey of Manufacturers is published in between census years.
  • State and Local Government – Each state has dedicated offices that collect information about industries and companies throughout the state.
    • The Chamber of Commerce – The local chamber of commerce exists to serve businesses and the local economy.  They provide a litany of resources that can include information on other businesses in the area.
  • Libraries
    • Local Universities – Aside from providing access to library resources, many local universities have Marketing Analytics Centers or Clubs. These internal organizations generally contain data (and often analysis) of many local consumer segments.

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