If you’re starting a business in an industry you don’t have much experience in, then market research can give you a helping hand. 

Secondary market research uses information that’s already available, so you can make informed decisions for your business.

In this article, we will go over secondary market research methods, and how your business can use them.

  • Secondary research: what it is and what it does.
  • Why you should perform secondary market research.
  • Secondary market research methods to use.
  • How to get the most out of your research.

Secondary research: what it is and what it does

There are two types of market research: primary and secondary.

While primary market research is new information you collect, secondary market research is when you use research somebody else has already collected

Information published by the government, other businesses or individuals is all classed as secondary research. 

Secondary research can be a lot more accessible than primary research, because all the hard work is already done. 

As a small business, using secondary market research can be a lot faster and more cost effective than doing your own research.

Why you should perform secondary market research

Secondary market research is a fantastic tool for new startups, and there are some significant benefits to using it. 


Secondary market research is considerably cheaper than primary research. This is because you don’t have to spend the money putting together tools to gather the data yourself (questionnaires, focus groups, interviews, etc.).

Although, sometimes you might find that pieces of information are locked behind paywalls. While this paywall is still cheaper than conducting the research yourself, you can always email the researcher for a copy. 

If you’re lucky, the initial researcher may be willing to send you their paper free of charge. 


When you find a piece of secondary market research, it’s quite simple to check if it’s specific to your industry or business. If it isn’t, you can quickly move onto a piece that is.

It’s arguably better for startups and new businesses to use secondary research methods. Using secondary methods can give you access to industry information without needing to set up the business first. 

For example, imagine you wanted to set up your own indie game studio. Initially, you may not be aware of best practices, but with secondary market research you can avoid issues caused by trial and error.

Finding industry-specific information with ease is incredibly beneficial, because it means you can concentrate on running your business successfully

Easy to analyse

Since the market research has already been compiled, it’s usually written into a format that’s easy for people to understand. 

This means that when you get around to reading the research, you might be able to make sense of it more easily.

Compare this to primary market research, where you have to figure out what every detail means. In this case, any strange or unexpected results in your research could completely throw you off, and use up more time. 

Secondary market research methods to use

There are a couple of different methods you can use to gather secondary market research data for your business.

Internal sources

If you’re using an internal source, then you’re using data already recorded by the business. This should always be your first port of call, because the information is relevant to your business and it should be easily accessible.

While using internal sources can be preferable, it’s not always possible. If your project or business is brand new, you may not have sufficient information. In that case, you’ll have to find external sources of secondary market research.

Some examples of internal sources are:

  • Previous marketing campaigns.
  • Previous sales figures.

Qualitative internal sources

These sources usually come directly from customers. For example, if you record customer feedback where they express their opinions, this is classed as a qualitative internal source. 

Qualitative data can prove extremely useful, because it needs less interpretation to understand. If a customer states they dislike a certain product, and provides a reason why, it is easier to fix it. 

If a customer’s dislike was recorded as quantitative data instead, all you would know is that they dislike a certain product. The lack of information makes it a lot harder to improve things. 

Examples of qualitative internal sources are:

  • Customer support calls.
  • Records of focus groups.
  • Customer-based events

External sources

If a source is external, that means somebody else (other than your business) found the data. While internal sources are exclusive to your business, external sources can typically be accessed by anyone.

Some examples of external sources are:

  • Published articles.
  • Competitors studies.
  • White papers.

Qualitative external sources

Any qualitative external data you find is likely to be a customer’s response to one of your competitors. This could be left on their Google My Business page, on their website, or on their social media pages.

Anywhere you can see customers interacting with a competitor can be a great place to gather information. 

This type of information is useful because it can highlight your unique selling point, or show you where your business needs improving. 

Some qualitative external sources are:

  • Competitor’s social media pages.
  • Competitor’s customer reviews.

How to get the most out of your research

Whenever you use secondary research, make sure it comes from reputable sources. There’s no point doing secondary market research if the information you’re using is incorrect.

So instead of using ‘random’ websites, refer to professional articles or academic journals. If any Government agencies provide information or research, then that is also a great place to get it. 

These types of sources are very reliable, and can provide top-quality information for your business. Websites like Statista can give you excellent stat-based information.

Even if your sources are reputable, you also have to make sure they’re relevant to your business. There’s very little point looking into food delivery services if you’re in the hair and beauty industry.

Always make sure your research is up to date. This means checking the publication date of the information you find. 

If the document or study you’ve found is relatively old, it might not be as accurate as some newer studies in the same field. An article about spending habits from ten years ago isn’t likely to be useful to your small business. 

Setting up your business

Now that you know how to conduct your market research, you can start working on your business. Market research is a big part of writing your business plan, which you need to attract investors, among other things. 

If your finances are stressing you out, accounting software like Countingup can give you a helping hand. 

Countingup is a two-in-one business current account and accounting software that allows you to manage your finances from one app. That way, you have complete visibility and control over your money. 
Download the app for free today.