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What’s the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Research?

Guv Callahan

Dec 22, 2020

what's the difference between primary and secondary research

RevBlogMarketingWhat’s the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Research?

Whether you’re a student preparing to write a thesis, or a small business owner planning on launching a new product or service, chances are you’re looking to find the best way to conduct research. And do so in the most time, energy, and cost-efficient manner. Understanding the difference between primary and secondary data is the best place to start your research journey.

Without further ado, let’s have a look at the key differences between primary and secondary research.

What is Primary Research?

Primary research is research that you conduct yourself. Or, alternatively, you could pay another party, such as a research firm, to conduct primary research for you. Either way, you go straight to the source for data collection. You need to target, customize, and narrow down your research parameters to get the conclusive data you’re after. Unfortunately, as valuable and targeted as the findings of primary research are, the process is often costly, time-consuming, and energy-intensive.

Common Examples of Primary Research Methods

Some of the most common types of primary research are:

  • Focus groups: A focus group is an interview, but in a small group setting. Instead of getting feedback from one person, you’re having a discussion with multiple people in your target market at the same time. You get feedback from individuals in the group, as well as through their interactions with each other throughout the session.
  • In-depth Interviews: An in-depth interview is a one-on-one conversation with a primary research target. The conversation happens in person, telephonically, or virtually. An interview is a great way to truly understand and gain insight into the participant’s thoughts on the subject. Conducting a successful interview is often harder than it may seem, so it’s best to make sure you’re adequately prepared before walking into it.
  • Observation: Observation can mean monitoring things like a person’s or consumer’s behavior, their actions, or their buying habits.
  • Surveys: Surveys are great for gathering information from a larger audience. They generally consist of a series of close-ended questions, but can also include some open-ended questions which encourage participants to provide more detailed feedback.

What is Secondary Research?

Unlike primary market research, which you conduct yourself, secondary market research has already been conducted by another party. A key benefit of secondary data research is that nobody is reinventing the wheel. You can rely on data and research findings already collected and published by others. 

Common Examples of Secondary Research Sources

When you turn to secondary research, all you have to do is look for the information you need from a long list of resources. You can turn to hard copy formats such as reference books or journals, or you can turn to the Internet. It’s that simple. Some data is public and therefore free, whereas you may need to pay a fee to access data on some commercial platforms.

Some of the most common types of secondary research sources are:

  • Analyst reports
  • Customer emails, surveys, and feedback results
  • Internet search
  • Prior internal focus groups
  • Published studies
  • Recordings of interviews or meetings
  • White papers

Why You Need Transcription Tools to Help Conduct Your Research

Even if you are an expert in shorthand, taking notes during an interview means that your attention is divided. By the same token, it can be tedious to extract the information you need from a recording. That is where transcription tools come in. Whether you are conducting an interview in person, on the phone, or virtually, there are products and services that can help you record and then transcribe the interviews once you have conducted primary research.

One such tool is the Voice Recorder App by Rev, which does a lot more than merely make a recording. It conveniently pairs the recording with transcription services. It’s a very efficient approach to get that recording accurately down on paper. If you’re planning on conducting an interview via telephone, you may want to look into apps like the free Rev Call Recorder. It records both incoming and outgoing phone calls. Like the Voice Recorder, it pairs the recording with transcription services with just one tap.

Both primary and secondary research have their benefits, but a combination of the two is the best way to achieve your research objectives. With some preparation and the right tools in hand, students and business owners alike can make the entire process more time, energy, and cost-efficient.

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