3 Great Secondary Marketing Research Resources

Research and data are the lifeblood of great marketing.

When you conduct marketing research, you can go two ways. You can either gather primary research data, which is new information specifically collected for your immediate research needs. Or, you can use secondary marketing research sources, or data that’s collected by others.

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 marketing research sources.

Advantages of secondary marketing research:

  1. Far less expensive than primary data. Other companies do the work, and it’s usually either free or very affordable.
  2. Fast and easy to obtain. Often, you can find the data you need with a single click.
  3. Useful to design primary data research. You can use secondary marketing research to compliment your existing data, or build your marketing strategies.

Secondary data is quite valuable, as you can use it to find facts, to build models, and for 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 US Census Bureau is the principal agency of the US Federal Statistical System, which 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, data.gov is developed publicly on GitHub, an open source project where you can contribute. You can find data sets, clearly marked with available file formats, as well as news and articles. Data sources are available in csv, html, xml, pdf, or zip format, depending on the kind of information produced. The site also allows you to narrow down its thousands of databases by state, county, or zip code.

Euromonitor International

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 plenty of valuable 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.

These are just a few of the many sites to find valuable information to conduct marketing and business research. Once you’ve got this readily-available information, you can leverage it to make your business more successful.

Market Research: Friend or Foe?

Oh come on—of course market research is our friend.

But some folks (particularly creative types) think of market research as a dastardly plot conceived by zombie hordes of humorless quants on a mission to destroy everything that is vibrant and alive in commercial communication.

Why does anybody think this?

Well, one theory is that these people are full of themselves. If I may ascend my deluxe model hardwood soapbox for just a moment, allow me to emphatically declare (using my double-stitched, Corinthian leather megaphone) that any communicator with a license to write embraces market research as a gift from the gods of marketing.

Good research does not kill good ideas.

To put it another way: If an idea seems promising at first, but then dies because market research reveals that it would not resonate with the target audience—well, that idea deserved to die. Come up with another one!

Has a genuinely brilliant idea ever been sidelined because a data-dazed researcher didn’t grasp the idea’s awesomeness? Yes, this has happened. And we in the creative community mourn those fallen concepts every single day, in a special ceremony we don’t tell anybody else about. So act like you never heard about this, because you’re not supposed to know.

But much more often, market research provides the essential raw material which is used to craft interesting communications.

As Houdini knew, you do your best work in chains.

The restrictions that research can introduce to the process of coming up with, say, a brand idea or a web video aimed at a tightly-defined audience—these restrictions are, paradoxically, liberating. We’ve all heard of the proverbial blank page that has stricken terror into writers since the days of papyrus scrolls. Well, the blank page is scary because there are just too many ways to fill it up. The creative imagination considers the infinite possibilities, and freezes.

When a researcher says “See this conceptual direction? And this one? Don’t go there. It won’t work”, a wise ideator breathes a sigh of relief. Good! Now I’ve only got to deal with 2.2 billion possible ideas, instead of, you know, infinity.

Good research versus evil research.

There is one kind of research that yields poor results. This is the kind in which a moderator presents, say, a storyboard for a television commercial to a panel of 10 people rigorously selected for their unique ability to desire $100 plus free snacks. Researchers ask the panel to analyze something they have never, in their time on earth, spent a moment analyzing. And they often present the panel with a crude approximation of a spot—represented by drawings and a script, perhaps, or maybe with assembled stock footage. We should not expect a woman who works at a payroll processing company to be able to imagine the emotions evoked by a powerfully directed video.

Focus groups aren’t always the best way to assess a campaign.

In my long career, I have spent many hours behind the one-way mirror, observing the behavior of the Legion of Free Snackers. To be fair, much of what I heard was quite useful. Open-ended questions about a category or brand can reveal things about the target’s predilections that you might never have guessed. I recall, for example, attending a series of focus groups in cities across America, learning that even rich people sometimes stay at Motel 6, and they have their reasons why.

But the same people who enlightened me about their motivations for choosing the plain-but-perfectly-fine motel failed to spot genius. We presented them with some radio commercials written by my talented friend and colleague, David Fowler. These spots went on to become the first of a now-legendary radio campaign that drove millions of customers to Motel 6, and which is still charming radio listeners decades after being conceived. It’s surely one of the most successful campaigns ever. And yet, in the context of a sterile focus group room—even though stocked with M&Ms aplenty!—the assembled commentators rejected the soon-to-be famous radio commercials. They didn’t like voice talent Tom Bodett, nor his unfunny (to them) observations.

Market research shows I should end this blog now.

I could go on, and I will surely do so in another post. But my good buddies in research tell me your interest is probably flagging at this point. Am I bitter? A little. I would like to go on. But if I want you to ever pay attention to me again, I will abide by the advice of my data-obsessed colleagues.

Are people still watching TV? Nielsen says yes

Experts have long predicted that TV and radio will lose a Darwinian battle to subscription on-demand services like Netflix. But Nielsen’s latest report shows TV’s still going strong.

The recent Nielsen Q1 2016 Total Audience Report indicates the media evolution trend is continuing. However, broadcast—that’s TV and radio combined—is still the most powerful medium. For now.

TV and radio may not dominate the universe the way they once did, and statistics show they continue to lose share. But the chart below confirms their staying power as a resource to reach an audience. If you’re seeking to build awareness with the Boomer generation — who also have the deepest pockets — live TV still holds a 53% share of time spent. Combine TV and AM/FM radio (not streaming services), and you’re looking at 70% of a Boomer’s daily media consumption. Conversely, if your targets are 18-34, you’re better off reaching them digitally and by subscription video. In fact, the average time per day spent on digital devices in this age group grew 74% in the last 2 years. But still, live television and radio claim a 46% share for the younger generation.

Somehow, AM/FM radio still hangs in there at 17%, though its audience skews older. 18-34 year olds spend an average of 10:19 minutes per day listening to radio. 50-64 year olds top the average at 15:09.

So what does this mean for your strategic planning and your media commitments?

Broadcast is still a powerful tool to build awareness. That awareness gets translated to better engagement when customers seek your brand in digital mediums. But it’s more important than ever to be well informed. Aim carefully before you fire off precious media dollars, because the landscape is shifting constantly.