The Revolution of Secondary Data

The Revolution of Secondary Data

Traditionally, data collected for any purpose other than to meet the needs of a particular research study was called “secondary” data. However, the definition of secondary data is evolving. Advances in technology are giving researchers access to vast potential sources of data and information that push the boundary of that definition.

Historically, market research has mostly relied on data designed and collected by the researcher to meet the needs of individual studies. The fact is that secondary data of all forms is immensely valuable to researchers.  Over the last 20 years, we have seen a digital revolution that has produced dramatic increases in the ability to collect, store, and process secondary information. The global Internet, social media, and mobile technology all provide an unprecedented amount of behavioral and attitudinal data about the way people live and work.

The role of the researcher in this new information environment is evolving from interviewer or collector to data curator, focusing more on organizing and integrating data, much of which already exists. The research and insight function is extending beyond data collection and analysis to managing and synthesizing data from a diverse range of sources, from focus groups and sample surveys to social media and extensive and complex databases.

The reality of research practice today is that both the traditional and revolutionary approaches exist side by side, and neither has cornered the market on solutions to problems. Prediction and understanding are related but independent goals of Market Research, and it is entirely possible to have one without the other.  It is merely a decision of the business whether one goal might be favored over the other. However, striking the right balance between prediction and understanding is still required.

A 12-hour online  Principles Express course authored by Bill Bean, Principal at Bean and Associates Consulting and a senior marketing executive specializing in research and analytics,introduces the many secondary data sources available.

This course looks at three types of secondary data:

  • Data collected for any purpose other than to meet the needs of your particular study.
  • Data collected for non-specific research purposes often called “syndicated data” or multi-client data.
  • Data collected for another purpose and subsequently used in research.

For more about secondary data, please check out the Principles Express course Working with Secondary Data: Syndicated and Big Data. (If you are interested in sponsoring this course, please see the sponsorship benefits.)

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