Secondary research is something every student has completed at one time or another, usually by doing library research with books and periodicals for a school report. This is usually the cheapest and easiest type of research for small businesses to conduct. However, it may be less reliable than primary research because the information you obtain was not developed with your particular problem or situation in mind.
Nevertheless, for some types of information (for example, questions about your competitor's market share, or the absolute numbers of potential customers for a new product), secondary market research is the only kind available.
Secondary research can be divided into two categories:
- external research, which involves looking at data gathered by industry experts, trade associations, or companies that specialize in gathering and compiling data about various industries
- internal research, which is data gathered by your company for purposes other than market research (e.g., sales reports broken down by product line) but which you can use to gauge what the market will do in the future