What Is Primary Data in Marketing Research? - Definition, Sources & Collection

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  • 0:00 Primary Data in Market…
  • 0:16 Sources of Primary Data
  • 1:14 Collection of Primary Data
  • 3:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

If you ever received a call to participate in a survey, you were part of primary data collection. In this lesson, you'll learn what primary data is. You'll also explore sources of primary data and the collection of it. A short quiz follows.

Defining Primary Data in Market Research

Primary data is information that you collect specifically for the purpose of your research project. An advantage of primary data is that it is specifically tailored to your research needs. A disadvantage is that it is expensive to obtain.

Sources of Primary Data

The source of your primary data is the population sample from which you collect the data. The first step in the process is determining your target population. For example, if you are researching the marketability of a new washing machine, your target population may be newlyweds that have just purchased a home within the last 90 days.

Once you have determined your target population, you will need to decide how to represent this population in your study. Obviously, it's impracticable to collect data from everyone, so you will have to determine the sample size and the type of sample. The sample should be random and a stratified random sample is often advisable. A stratified random sample involves dividing the population to be studied into subpopulations of distinct characteristics and then drawing your random sample from each subpopulation. In our washing machine example, subpopulations may include young couples, middle-aged couples, old couples and previously married couples.

Collection of Primary Data

You can collect data from your sample population in different ways. Some common collection methods include:

Focus Groups

A focus group usually consists of a discussion among 8-12 people from your sample facilitated by a moderator. The moderator tries to encourage in-depth discussions on the product or concept that is the focus of the research. It's a flexible means of data collection that lets you get to information not easily obtained by other means.


These are basically questionnaires with a set of carefully designed questions posed to your target population. Surveys can be administered by mail, telephone or by the Internet. Response rates are typically very low, so you will have to use a large sample to get sufficient responses.


You may also interview people from your sample either in person or by telephone. You may start from a schedule of carefully designed questions, like in a survey, but you will have the flexibility to adapt the questions to fit the situation. Of course, a problem with this method is that the adaptability can lead to inconsistent results and interviewer bias.

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