To gain clear and valuable insight into your target market, there are two important tactics which complement each other – primary and secondary research.
This guide by leading UK market research company Crowdology explores these two methodologies so you can get the most out of them when it comes to a thorough understanding of your potential customers.
Primary and Secondary Research Explained
Primary market research focusses on a strategic plan to gather crucial information about the different types of people that form your target audience (the consumers who are interested in the type of products and/or services that your business provides). It delves deep into demographical pockets of consumers so that you can understand what motivates their buying decisions.
Secondary research is concerned with pinning down your market at large via readily available public information such as census data and other statistics. It offers vital data such as the volume of people who might purchase your product/service (demand), how much they would be prepared to spend and whether the marketplace is saturated or has sufficient space for your business offering to be profitable.
Although it might appear to be going about things the wrong way round, the first step in getting a handle on your market is to conduct secondary research, since this will give you the all-important ‘Big Picture’.
For example, if you’ve developed a new accessory for Jaguar cars, you’ll need to know how many people in the UK own Jaguars, broken down into demographics such as age group, gender and location. Then you’ll want to find out how much this market generally spends on maintaining their car annually, as well as their current economic standing (i.e. has this market’s collective spending increased or decreased over the past ten years?). Having a clear overview of your market will provide strategic knowledge to your business processes, such as whether your manufacture setup can accommodate the demand that you’ve identified.
Unlike primary research which requires professional expertise to get right, secondary market research is something you can get busy with yourself if you have the time to find the right data and trawl through it, since this kind of information is made available to the public. Try the following free resources to conduct secondary research:
- Internet (do a search using relevant keywords);
- Census data and statistics;
- Financial data on public companies;
- Trade Associations;
- Industry article publications,
- Gender or ethnic specific publications;
- Research reports published by organisations.
A word of caution if you’re conducting secondary research on your own – be wary of avenues where they require you to pay for reports and other data, since as a non-market research professional you cannot be sure whether the data you’re spending money on is of real value to your individual business needs.
It must also be said that while in many cases much of the data for secondary research is readily available to anyone who knows how to use the Internet, interpreting data correctly is what makes it valuable. For this reason you will generally get more from data with professional help.
Once you understand your market at large, you will be in position to begin to drill down on a more granular level to get to grips with the smaller demographical groups that make up your target audience, so you can fully understand what makes them tick. For example, your marketing would need to be different if you’re aiming at the 18 – 25 demographic, compared to the 35 – 45 year old demographic. We explore primary market research fully in our guide titled ‘How to Go About Primary Research for Business Insight’.
Starting with secondary research, you will gain vital insight into your consumer market at large, which will play a key role in your business strategy. From this foundation advises Crowdology, you can then start to understand what individuals want and how best to reach them.