Desk Research

Secondary Desk Research

Desk Research is an integral part of any Market Intelligence and Market Research study.

Also known as Secondary Research, it can aid the researchers in understanding a particular market or industry in order to ask intelligent questions during interviews.

In Competitive Analysis, Desk Research is also used to map out potential sources of information such as industry associations, former and current employees of major players, industry experts and regulators.  It can also identify and collect potential respondents’ contact information.

What is Secondary Research?

Secondary Research is a technique that uses existing and publicly available data. It is also known as “desk research.” It includes material published in research papers and other such documents. Secondary research tends to be cheaper than primary methods. With primary research organizations or businesses collect data first hand.   On the other hand, secondary research includes databases, news articles, statistics, reports, data sets and Market Intelligence.

Companies perform secondary research to assess low-cost, publicly-verified, and quick knowledge. Secondary Research can help clarify and explain trends. It also helps align the focus of primary research on a larger scale. There are two types of secondary analysis. These are internal and external secondary data. The first type consists of information gathered within the researcher’s firm. Researchers compile the second type outside of their respective companies.

Why is Secondary Research Important?

Primary market research provides depth of insight, and the ability to probe into phenomena. In some cases, secondary market research is all that a company needs. It paves the way for primary research. It helps companies to analyze the external market environment. Companies can also use it to identify broad trends, and shifts in an industry. It gives insight into market information and regulation. 

Why is Secondary Research Helpful?

  • It enables managers to make better-informed decisions. Secondary research helps managers to understand consumer needs better. It thus aids them in creating a more impactful marketing plan. It allows for more informed strategizing and decision-making. The process thus increases the chance of success of a company’s marketing efforts.
  • It helps managers to identify new opportunities. It also helps them to identify existing markets. They can use it to segment and analyze the market and competition.  Secondary research can help with product positioning, competitive analysis and with new product development.
  • It gives managers more perspectives. Secondary research material is available to the public. Many people review the information. Government material, the internet, and libraries are all excellent sources for secondary research. The data is extensive and may help to cover several issues.
  • It helps companies save money. Researchers don’t have to go through the expense of designing and implementing a study. Secondary research reexamines data collected earlier. Thus, it is cheaper to compile than primary methods. The challenge with reusing data is that it might not be in the form that the client or the market researcher needs.
  • It helps companies save time. It doesn’t take long to find a credible source with factual information. It’s easy to find reports compiled by an industry leader or government agency. A researcher can find scholarly articles and a host of other resources on the internet. Companies should consider sources that have offered their research for public use.
  • It helps provide context. Many firms don’t consider what their focus should be when it comes to market research. These companies thus need to do some introspection. This is one reason why some primary market research companies offer secondary analysis. It is more cost-effective and faster. It also helps clients to build the framework for their primary research efforts.

Desk Research in Emerging Markets

While Secondary research is plentiful in developed countries, secondary research in some emerging markets such as China remains limited. These limitations persist due to different political, economic, regulations, cultural norms and other reasons. 

Desk research is especially challenging in Southeast Asia because of the lack of access to libraries, lack of transparency to government records and academic publications, poor documentation practices and language barriers. While the spread of adoption and availability of internet has improved this situation, censorship has been increasing across the region. SEA governments have been implementing regulations that curtail free speech and publication of information through censorship, filtering or blocking online publications.

Internet service providers, webmasters and private companies running sites are being made liable for the materials that are published–media controls such as licensing for online news in Singapore; the Philippine Cyber Protection Law included provisions controlling free speech; and a government agency in Thailand monitors and blocks URLs with unapproved content.

Desk Research is necessary to provide baseline information in understanding the overall market structure and landscape, the industry situation and trends, past consumer trends and behaviors, and identification of sources in support of primary research. However, it is often very difficult to get reliable information from desk research alone especially in SEA. For government data and records, researchers would often need to personally and formally request reports from the government agencies. While government agencies across the region are beginning to post public records online, these data are still not complete, not updated, or not completely accessible. There is also limited published academic papers and limited access. Most private institutions only have basic information on their websites, and there are limited databases covering South East Asian companies.

SIS typically uses the following sources of secondary information:

  • General web searching
  • Company web sites
  • Directories and lists
  • Governmental reports
  • Relevant industry and product associations within each country
  • Publications and periodicals specific to relevant industries
  • Analyst and company presentations
  • Industry speeches and conference presentations
  • Any available published reports