Marketing Research Tutorial

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.

Advantages of Primary Research

Marketers often turn to primary data collection because of the benefits it offers including:

Addresses Specific Research Issues

Carrying out their own research allows the marketing organization to address issues specific to their own situation. Primary research is designed to collect the information the marketer wants to know and report it in ways that benefit the marketer. For example, while information reported with secondary research may not fit the marketer’s needs (e.g., different age groupings) no such problem exists with primary research since the marketer controls the research design.

Greater Control

Not only does primary research enable the marketer to focus on specific issues, it also enables the marketer to have a higher level of control over how the information is collected. In this way the marketer can decide on such issues as size of project (e.g., how many responses), location of research (e.g., geographic area), and time frame for completing the project.

Efficient Spending for Information

Unlike secondary research where the marketer may spend for information that is not needed, primary data collections focuses on issues specific to the researcher.  This helps improve the chances that research funds will be spent efficiently.

Proprietary Information

Information collected by the marketer using primary research is their own and is generally not shared with others. Thus, information can be kept hidden from competitors and potentially offer an “information advantage” to the company that undertook the primary research.

Disadvantages of Primary Research

While primary data collection is a powerful method for acquiring information, it does pose several significant problems including:


Compared to secondary research, primary data collection may be very expensive since it often requires a great deal of marketer involvement. Additionally, collecting primary research often requires the use of expensive research tools and methods to carry out the research.

Time Consuming

To be done correctly primary data collection requires the development and execution of a research plan. Going from the starting point of deciding to undertake a research project to the end point of having results is often much longer than the time it takes to acquire secondary data.

Not Always Feasible

Some research projects, while potentially offering information that could prove quite valuable, are not within the reach of a marketer. Many are just too large to be carried out by all but the largest companies, and some are not feasible at all. For instance, it would not be practical for McDonalds to attempt to interview every customer who visits their stores on a certain day since doing so would require hiring a huge number of researchers, an unrealistic expense. Fortunately, there are ways for McDonalds to use other methods (e.g., sampling) to meet their needs without the need to talk with all customers.

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What is Primary Research?   (2023).   From Marketing Research.   Retrieved   September 21, 2023  from