The next step in research design involves laying out a plan to collect the information within the research method selected. To gather research marketers have three choices:
- acquire previously undertaken research
- undertake new research themselves
- out-source the task of new research to a third-party, such as a market research company
The first option is associated with Secondary Research, which involves accessing information that was previously collected. The last two options are associated with conducting Primary Research, which involves the collection of original data, generally for one’s own use.
As we will see, the data collection approach used depends on what the researcher determined in the Steps 1-3 of the research plan. That is, the optimal data collection technique is selected only after the researcher has determined the purpose, the information sought, and the basic research design method. In many instances, the researcher uses both secondary and primary data collection as part of the same research project.
An extensive discussion of Secondary Research can be found in two tutorials: Data Collection: Low-Cost Secondary Research and Data Collection: High-Cost Secondary Research. While detailed coverage of Primary Research can be found in the tutorial Data Collection: Primary Research Methods.