9 Methods How To Gather Data In Your Market Research

9 Methods for Gathering Primary and Secondary Data in Your Market Research

The sole purpose of market research is to learn more about your customers, make the best business decisions and improve your chances of success in today’s competitive market. Brands need the information to better frame their strategies and position themselves in the market. For this reason, gathering data is essential.

There are different ways to go about conducting market research. The two main types of data that researchers collect are primary and secondary data. In this article, we take a look at the different methods for gathering each type of data.

But before we dive into the different methods of gathering primary and secondary data for market research, let’s briefly understand the difference between qualitative and quantitative data collection methods.

Qualitative Data Collection Methods

Qualitative data collection methods involve collecting data in an unstructured format. This means that the data collected cannot be analyzed using statistical methods. Instead, qualitative data collection methods are used to understand people’s behaviors, motivations and opinions.

Quantitative Data Collection Methods

Quantitative data collection methods involve collecting data in a structured format. Numerical data is collected, which can be analyzed using statistical methods.

Primary Data

Primary research is usually done when you need to make important decisions about your company’s product or service. You need to know about your target audience, what they think and how they behave. To get these insights, you cannot rely on second-hand information.

Listening to and getting feedback from your existing and potential customers is unparalleled. Firsthand knowledge is also more accurate and means that you can connect with your target audience in a much closer way. Going out and collecting it yourself through primary research methods is much better.


One of the most popular methods for collecting primary data is through surveys. Surveys can be conducted in person, by phone or online. A survey questionnaire is a quantitative data collection method where questions are asked to a large number of people. The responses are then analyzed to see the patterns or trends.

There are a lot of companies that help in conducting online surveys. A few of them, such as Pollfish, are relatively known. However, some better alternatives to Pollfish have more features and are better suited for market research, especially when companies need to ask open-ended questions.

Surveys are also distributed via email channels. Usually, eCommerce stores send emails to potential customers while conducting research. It is efficient if the email open rate is high and the brand name is renowned; otherwise, the response rate might be low.


Another common method for collecting primary data is through interviews. Interviews can be conducted in person, by phone or online. An in-depth interview is a qualitative data collection method where an interviewer meets with a respondent to ask detailed questions about a topic.

A face-to-face interview has the advantage that you get answers in real-time. You can also gauge the response from the body language; if you do not understand their point of view, you can easily ask cross-questions.


Observations can be either structured or unstructured. Structured observations involve observing people in a controlled setting, such as a laboratory, whereas unstructured observations are done when people are in their natural environment.

The field observation method helps brands get to know the expectations of their target customers and learn more about what the brand has to offer. By gathering this data, brands can fully understand how their products or services are being used.


Experiments are conducted to test a hypothesis or observe a particular process’s causes and effects. The researcher is in control of which data collection method to use and can select the most appropriate one for their research question.

The content analysis and mode of data collection are also decided by the person conducting the experiment. The researcher carries out some actions, and based on the findings, conclusions are drawn.

Let’s say a researcher wants to study how people react in a social situation. The researcher might, for instance, want to look into how a company’s sales associates are faring in the supermarket when they approach potential customers with their company’s products.

Focus Groups

Focus groups are a type of qualitative research that involves bringing together a group of people to discuss a particular topic. The discussion is led by a group moderator who asks questions and probes for deeper understanding. The discussion can be recorded and transcribed for further analysis.

In instances where a new product is being launched, or a niche market is being tapped, focus groups can help understand people’s perceptions and how they react to the new product.

Secondary Data

Secondary data is given its name because someone else has already collected it. It can be found in market research reports, company annual reports, government statistics and industry association publications. Secondary data is usually less expensive and time-consuming to collect than primary data. However, it may not be as accurate or up to date as primary data.

Social Media

In the contemporary world, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram serve as rich secondary data sources. Brands can collect data about their customers from these platforms and use it to understand customer behavior, preferences and trends.

Looking for trends on the Internet is also known as social listening and is a great way to collect data about your customers.


The internet is a wealth of information and can be a great source of secondary data. Many resources offer data that can be very helpful in market research. Some of these resources include online databases and websites such as Wikipedia.

Market Research Reports


Company financial reports and industry association reports are other types of secondary data that can be useful in market research. At times, government reports can serve as secondary data that can be very helpful in conducting market research.

Academic journals and news articles are also other types of secondary data that can be very helpful while conducting market research. This qualitative data collection method of analyzing documents can provide insights into people’s behaviors, motivations and opinions.

Census Bureaus

Census bureaus collect data about a population for statistical analysis. This type of secondary data can be beneficial in understanding the demographics of a target market. Census data can provide insights into the size, growth and characteristics of a population.

If you want to start with a quick overview before deep diving into in-depth research, secondary data is a great place to start as it will help you understand a particular market. Reading on the Internet, observing people in their natural environment or looking at published reports are all relatively inexpensive methods and can be used for brief discussions with team members and relevant stakeholders.

Wrapping Up the Methods To Gather Primary and Secondary Data in Market Research

Once you know how to gather primary and secondary data, you will be well on your way to conducting successful target market research that will help you reach and convert your target audience.

Primary data analysis is essential to understanding your target market, and secondary data can be very helpful in supplementing your research. Secondary data analysis is usually much cheaper since data that has already been collected is analyzed.

With qualitative data collection methods such as focus group discussions and in-depth interviews, you will be able to gather rich, detailed data about your target market.

With quantitative data collection methods such as surveys and experiments, you will be able to gather large amounts of data that can be analyzed using statistical methods.

No matter what type of data you are looking to collect, there is a method that will suit your needs. By using a mix of primary and secondary data sources, you can get a well-rounded view of your target market and make informed decisions about your marketing strategy.

Our pick of the easiest primary method for market research is surveys, whereas market research reports win when it comes to gathering secondary data in order to make important business decisions.

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