Secondary Data in Marketing Research

Kristen Rogers, Shawn Grimsley
  • Author
    Kristen Rogers

    Kristen has her Bachelor of Arts in Communication (cum laude) with certificates in finance, marketing, and analytics. She works as a small business contributing writer for a finance website, has management experience at a Fortune 100 company, and experience at a news station working as a web producer.

  • Instructor
    Shawn Grimsley

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

Learn what secondary data is. Study the secondary data definition, learn how to collect internal and external secondary data, and discover secondary data examples. Updated: 03/29/2022

Table of Contents


What Is Secondary Data?

In marketing, research is often conducted to make business decisions and to help understand marketing trends. With this research, marketers must make use of different types of data. One form of data that is commonly used is secondary data. Secondary data is the data that was collected previously for a different purpose other than the research at hand. It is data that was already collected, generally by another individual or organization. Secondary data is typically used for research papers but can also be used in marketing.

The secondary data definition can be compared to primary data, which is the data collected specifically for the research being done currently. Primary data in marketing would refer to the data that is collected directly from the marketers. This would include things such as surveys conducted and customer data, if they were completed by the marketing team. Secondary data, on the other hand, would come from other reliable sources, such as institutions and trade organizations.

Internal Secondary Data Examples

When conducting marketing research, secondary data can be categorized into two different types: internal data and external data. Internal data refers to the data that comes directly from the company. It is internal since the documents and data provided were originally generated from within the company. This data may be from various departments within the organization, such as sales, accounting, or advertising. It may include data and information in different forms. Some internal secondary data examples include:

  • Previous Marketing Studies
  • Profit and Loss Statements
  • Balance Sheets
  • Inventory Records
  • Annual Reports
  • Other Financial and Sales Statements

External Secondary Data Examples

External data is the data that comes from other organizations outside of the company. It is the opposite of internal data. External data is collected by a third party, whereas internal data is generated by workers within the company. Some sources of external data may include:

  • Government Sources
  • Associations
  • Media Outlets
  • Universities or Institutions
  • Journals
  • Books

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  • 0:01 Definition
  • 0:14 Sources of Secondary Data
  • 1:45 Collecting Secondary Data
  • 2:26 Lesson Summary
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How to Analyze Secondary Data in Marketing

Secondary data can be analyzed in a computerized database system or with paper records. With technological advancements, companies typically have information stored in a database that is easily searchable. However, if the marketing research is referring to older data to make comparisons, it may need to find this within stored paper records. Other examples of paper records may include transactions between the company and customers that were not stored in the database system or official documents that are owned by the company.

Internet access is crucial for searching through databases online. Tools such as archives are also helpful when looking through databases full of information. Librarians or archivists may be able to assist with the navigation of databases. Some programmers may also use bots which help to search for data automatically.

There are some general steps when analyzing secondary data for market research. The process for analyzing secondary data typically includes:

  • Stating the purpose of the study being conducted
  • Choosing an appropriate research design method and plan
  • Determining the research questions that should be answered when identifying secondary data
  • Finding and collecting secondary data
  • Analyzing the secondary data and evaluating its purpose

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is secondary data and how is it used?

Secondary data refers to the data that had already been previously collected for a different purpose. It is data that was previously collected for another research project but is also applicable to the current project.

What is an example of secondary data?

An example of secondary data could be a study conducted by a university that was not affiliated with the organization at the time of the study. This specific example is external since it is outside of the organization and secondary since it uses data from research completed prior.

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