External Market Research: Definition & Sources

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  • 0:03 External Marketing…
  • 0:56 Statistics &…
  • 2:02 Market Research Agencies
  • 2:54 Customer-Supplied Information
  • 3:38 Other Market Research
  • 4:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Tiffany Spencer

Tiffany has taught ESL online and has a master's degree in business administration.

This lesson discusses and defines external sources of marketing information and its five main categories. Learn how this information is collected by a company or obtained from a third-party.

External Marketing Information Sources

Imagine you have owned and operated a dry cleaning service in your hometown for more than 20 years. Suddenly, a new dry cleaning service opens down the street and your customers begin to disappear! Now you need to know why your customers are going to this new company and what you need to do to get them back. You have suddenly become a spy. You don't creep through dark alleys or have gun fights in the street, but you do have sources that can provide you the information you need; these are your external marketing sources.

External marketing sources are sources of marketing information that are obtained from outside your company. External sources can provide company, customer, competitor, or industry data. External marketing information is most reliable when it is gathered from and compared with a variety of external sources, such as those we'll explore in this lesson.

Statistics & Competitor Intelligence

Many government agencies or quasi-governmental organizations (such as local chambers of commerce or the Library of Congress) often collect data and share official statistics on the local, regional, national, or global levels. These statistics often cover demographics and other useful information. You can typically obtain this information free of charge from the agency or organization, and this information may cover a wide variety of industry topics.

Competitor intelligence is an attempt to externally obtain an understanding of a competitor's strategy or approach. As an example, you could obtain an overview of that new dry cleaning store's sales goals from a newly hired employee who previously worked for your competitor. This type of information is obviously desirable; however, it can be very difficult to obtain. This information should never be obtained through unethical or illegal means but rather through more conventional methods such as competitor pricing surveys, discussions with competitors (when possible), and interviews of a competitor's customers, suppliers, and distributors.

Market Research Agencies

Market research agencies are commercial firms that use a wide variety of methods to gather a wide variety of marketing information, often customized for a client or industry. The methods used may include telephone, mail, Internet, or panel surveys; customer interviews; focus groups; audience testing; usability testing; or any combination of these methods. Once the market research agency collects the data, they analyze it and write a report.

The services of a market research firm are purchased by a specific client or by other industry participants, such as trade associations, unions, etc. Sometimes, market research agencies perform industry research independently and then make reports available to purchase by any or all industry participants. This is particularly true in the radio and television industries.

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