The difference between a smart business decision and a disastrous one can come down to whether you have the right information on hand.
Research and data is the lifeblood of great marketing. When conducting marketing research, you can go two ways: Either you gather primary research data, which is new information specifically collected for your immediate research needs, or you avail yourself of secondary research sources, which is data material collected by others and readily available in the public domain or for purchase.
The information you need may already be waiting for you.
While new and tailored to your needs, primary research can be costly and time-consuming. Moreover, you may be collecting data that is very similar or even identical to existing sources, making your efforts redundant. So it’s usually best to start with secondary data sources.
Advantages of secondary data:
- Far less expensive than primary data. Other companies may have already collected data that is available at no cost, or sold to you for much less than it would have cost you to.
- Fast and easy to obtain. Often, the data is sorted away on websites just a click away.
- Useful to design primary data research. With collected secondary research on hand as a basis, you can now build your strategy to collect what you need to complement your existing data.
Secondary data is quite valuable, as it can be used for purposes such as fact finding, model building, and database marketing. Your own company may keep internal records for sales, expenses, and customers which may be useful. To identify market trends, patterns and changes, tap into the many sources already available.
A few useful sites to gather information for all kinds of topics, demographics, and markets are the following:
US Census Bureau –
The principal agency of the US Federal Statistical System produces all kinds of data about our society and economy. With over 5,500 employees, you have a huge staff that gathers information and the ability to keep it current. Learn about the fastest growing counties or research income and poverty levels. Curious about US retail e-commerce sales as a percent of total quarterly retail sales for the last decade? A nicely compiled PDF will give you a compelling report.
Managed and hosted by the US General Services Administration, this site is developed publicly on GitHub, an open source project where you can contribute. Not only will you find data sets, clearly marked with available file formats, but also news and articles that relate to all kinds of topics that pertain to our economy and life in the US. Topics such as manufacturing, health, finance, consumers, energy and many more topics are covered. Data sources are available in csv, html, xml, pdf, or zip format, depending on the kind of information produced. Thousands of data sources can also be narrowed down by state, county or zip code, making data.gov a very flexible search site to narrow down the information relevant to your needs.
Euromonitor International – go.euromonitor.com/passport.html
Euromonitor offers over 115 million standardized statistics from around the world for topics such as consumer goods, healthcare, and travel services. Whether you want to research an industry, consumers, or other economic topics, Euromonitor’s intuitive interface offers objective views into a variety of topics to gain global and local insights. Follow trends that impact business and make your strategic decision-making easier with readily-available data.
If you want to be successful in the marketplace, conducting research is vital.
Secondary research is often a way to begin, and these are just a few of the many sites to find valuable information to conduct marketing and business research. Leverage readily-available information from data sites to make your business more successful.