SECONDARY DATA SOURCES FOR CONSUMER RESEARCH
INTERNAL SOURCES OF SECONDARY INFORMATION
Sales data: All organizations collect as well as record information like orders are received and delivered, costs are recorded, sales personnel submit visit reports, invoices are sent out, and returned goods are recorded, and so on in the course of their everyday operations. Much of this information is of potential use in marketing research. For example, following information can be obtained from sales orders and invoices:
- Sales by territory
- Sales by customer type
- Prices and discounts
- Average size of order by customer, customer type, geographical area
- Average sales by salesperson and
- Sales by pack size and pack type, etc.
This type of data is useful for identifying an organization’s most profitable products and customers. It can also serve to track trends within the enterprise’s existing customer group.
Financial data: An organization has a great deal of data within its files on the cost of producing, storing, transporting and marketing each of its products and product lines. Such data has many uses in marketing research including allowing measurement of the efficiency of marketing operations. It can also be used to estimate the costs attached to new products under consideration, of particular utilization (in production, storage and transportation) at which an organization’s unit costs begin to fall.
Transport data: Companies that keep good records relating to their transport operations are well placed to establish which are the most profitable routes, and loads, as well as the most cost-effective routing patterns. Good data on transport operations enables the enterprise to perform trade-off analysis and thereby establish whether it makes economic sense to own or hire vehicles, or the point at which a balance of the two gives the best financial outcome.
Storage data: The rate of stock turn, stock handling costs, assessing the efficiency of certain marketing operations and the efficiency of the marketing system as a whole. More sophisticated accounting systems assign costs to the cubic space occupied by individual products and the time period over which the product occupies the space. These systems can be further refined so that the profitability per unit, and rate of sale, are added. In this way, the direct product profitability can be calculated.
EXTERNAL SOURCES OF SECONDARY INFORMATION
The main sources of external secondary sources are:
- Government (federal, state and local)
- Trade associations
- Commercial services
- National and International institutions.
Government statistics may include all or some of the following:
- Population censuses
- Social surveys, family expenditure surveys
- Import/export statistics
- Production statistics
- Agricultural statistics
Trade associations differ widely in the extent of their data collection and information dissemination activities. However, it is worth checking with them to determine what they do publish. At the very least one would normally expect that they would produce a trade directory and, perhaps, a yearbook.
Published market research reports and other publications are available from a wide range of organizations that charge for their information. Typically, marketing people are interested in media statistics and consumer information which has been obtained from large-scale consumer or farmer panels. The commercial organization funds the collection of the data, which is wide-ranging in its content, and hopes to make its money from selling this data to interested parties.
National and International institutions: Bank economic reviews, university research reports, journals, and articles are all useful sources to contact. International agencies such as the World Bank, IMF, IFAD, UNDP, ITC, FAO, and ILO produce a plethora of secondary data that can prove extremely useful to the marketing researcher.
COLLECTING AND EVALUATING SECONDARY DATA
Good planning allows you to use creative and logical approaches to gathering information. Secondary data arc second-hand information. It is not collected from the source as the primary data. In other words, secondary data are those which have already been collected. So they may be relatively less accurate than the primary data. Secondary data are generally used when the time of research is short and the accuracy of such can be compromised to some extent. Secondary data can be collected from a number of Sources which can broadly be classified into two categories.
- Published sources
- Unpublished sources
Mostly secondary data are collected from published sources. Some important sources of published data are the following:
- Published reports of Central and State Governments and local bodies.
- Statistical abstracts, census reports and other reports published by different ministries of the Government.
- Official publications of the foreign Governments.
- Reports and Publications of trade associations, chambers of commerce, financial institutions etc.
- Journals, Magazines and periodicals.
- Periodic Publications of Government organizations like Central Statistical Organization (C. S. 0.), National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO).
- Reports submitted by Economists, Research Scholars, Bureaus etc.
- Published works of research institutions and Universities etc.
Statistical data can also be collected from various unpublished sources. Some of the important unpublished sources from which secondary data can be collected are:
- The research works carried out by scholars, teachers and professionals.
- The records maintained by private firms and business enterprises. They may not like to publish the information considering them as a business secret.
- Records and statistics maintained by various departments and offices of the Central and State Governments, Corporations, Undertakings, etc.
Some useful guidelines for evaluating secondary sources are:
In order to keep up with the advances of modern technology and to make sense of the newest source, the internet, Stein in Sociology on the Web (2002) highlights six criteria for consideration:
- Authority of the author
- Authority of the material
- Authority of the site or organization
- Currency (i.e. is it up to date)
- Pressure groups or objectivity
Evaluating secondary data is similar to doing a critique of a published research report. Everything about the original research that produced the data should be scrutinized to ensure that the research had high validity and reliability, such as:
- The theoretical or conceptual model used
- Variables and hypotheses posited
- Operational definitions of variables and measures employed
- The population, sample frame, sampling design, and sample obtained
- The data collection strategy and response rate obtained
- Quality control measures employed
- Data coding, data entry, and data analysis procedures
- Factors which could have affected the study, such as current events