What is Primary Research?

When marketers conduct research to collect original data for their own needs it is called primary research. This process has the marketer or someone working for the marketer designing and then carrying out a research plan. As we noted earlier, primary research is often undertaken after the researcher has gained some insight into the issue by collecting secondary data.

While not as frequently used as secondary research, primary research still represents a significant part of overall marketing research. For many organizations, especially large consumer products firms, spending on primary research far exceeds spending on secondary research.

The primary research market consists of marketers carrying out their own research and an extensive group of research companies offering their services to marketers. These companies include:

  • Full-Service Marketing Research Firms – These companies develop and carryout the full research plan for their clients.
  • Partial-Service Research Firms – These companies offer expertise that address a specific part of the research plan, such as developing methods to collect data (e.g., design surveys), locating research participants, or undertaking data analysis.
  • Research Tools Suppliers – These firms provide tools used by researchers and include data collection tools (e.g.,  survey software), data analysis software, and report presentation products.

Primary research is collected in a research “instrument” designed to record information for later analysis. Marketing researchers use many types of instruments from basic methods that record participant responses to highly advanced electronic measurement where research participants are connected to sophisticated equipment.

As we see in the next sections, primary data collection offers advantages and disadvantages for the marketer.