ZIMSEC O Level Business Studies Notes: Marketing: Secondary and Primary Research

  • Market research can be grouped into two:
  • Primary and
  • Secondary Research

Secondary Research

  • It involves the further investigation and analysis of data collected for another purpose or/and collected by someone else
  • It is also known as desk research
  • The data already exists at the time the research is conducted
  • The data can be within the organisation in which case it is known as internal secondary research or
  • It can be from sources external to the organisation in which case it is known as external secondary research

Internal sources

  • Internal sources are those found from within the organisation
  • These include:
  • Customer sales records
  • Customer payment records
  • Client databases
  • Reports made by sales representatives
  • Internal assessments of the market
  • Analysis of competitors
  • Correspondence with customers e.g. emails, letters etc

External sources

  • These include:
  • Trade publications such as Forbes.com
  • Reports made by Trade Associations
  • Specialist publications such as economist.com and the wsj.com
  • Published Company Accounts of rival organisations
  • Goverment Statistics e.g. ZIMSTATS:
    1. National Income
    2. Family Expenditure surveys
    3. Trade Figures
    4. GDP and GNP
    5. Social Trends
    6. Demographic Trends
    7. Census surveys

Click here to see the advantages and disadvantages of secondary research

Primary Research

  • These is the process of collecting data first hand for the purposes of the current research rather than using data from existing sources
  • Data obtained this way is known as primary data
  • Primary data is defined as data that originates as a result of the current investigation
  • Collecting data this way is also known as field research as it involves going into the field
  • There are three basic techniques of field research viz:
  • surveys
  • observation
  • experiments


A questionnaire

  • A detailed study of a market or geographical area to gather data on attitudes, impressions, opinions, satisfaction level, etc., by polling a section of the population
  • Surveys typically involve engaging only a sample of the population
  • A representative sample of the market is obtained using sampling techniques
  • Survey techniques include:
  • Questionnaires
  • Personal interviews
  • Internet surveys
  • Postal surveys
  • Telephone surveys
  • Panel surveys
  • Group interviews etc


  • Involves careful visual,audio or record monitoring rather than directly engaging with the customer
  • Observation may take the form of video cameras on the subject
  • It can also be conducted in the form of audits e.g. stock audits to determine how much of a product has been bought in a given period
  • Actual observers can be employed
  • This method has a major drawback:
  • If a customer is aware that they are being monitored they are likely to alter their behaviour


  • This is when scientific methods are used to:
  • Create a hypothesis or assumption
  • Systematically test the assumption
  • Disprove or prove the assumption
  • Restate the assumption in scientific terms e.g. as a theory
  • Examples include test marketing where a limited version of the product is launched

Click here to read the advantages and disadvantages of primary research

To access more topics go to theĀ O Level Business Notes