5 Types of Secondary Data

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Disccusses the 5 Types of Secondary Data in marketing rearch in a Singaporean context.

In marketing research, there are two types of data: primary and secondary. Primary data is data that has to be collected and analyzed from scratch, while secondary data refers to data that already exists and was gathered for purposes other than current research project. It is increasingly used to examine a wide variety of marketing and business problems because of the relative speed and cost-effectiveness of obtaining the data. Below are 5 types of secondary data that a company that can collect to help it decide whether it should go into a new catering business (Hair et. al, 2009):

1. Sales data - Sales Activity Reports (Internal)

These reports contain data on sales, competition, territory activities, and changes in the market place (if it is competitor intelligence, it is not considered internal data) , enabling the company to identify potential target markets, sales trends and competition. With this data, the company would be able to forecast future sales trends and revenues for its catering business. For example, the daily sales activity report would provide the company with insight: the monitoring and identifying of sales frequency (i.e. cyclical nature of the sales – sale increase during festive seasons) would enable the company to formulate its marketing strategy appropriately (i.e. set promotions and pricing), or translate the data for other expenses (i.e. price promotions may boost sales volume but does not generate profit).

2. Customer Feedback Forms (Internal)

The company can collect data from customer feedback forms, which are collected on-premises. By allowing customers to rate some food items, vote for popular items, and indicate the level of customer satisfaction survey (i.e. service response time, delivery timing, professionalism) the company can determine the types of food and beverages to include in its catering menu based on customers’ preferences and opinions. As feedback forms usually require customers to fill in their names, age, and gender and contact information, potential customers (target market) can be identified.

3. Competitors’ annual reports (External)

In order be successful, the company needs to identify and understand its existing and potential competition. By analyzing competitors’ (name them) annual reports, the company will be able to correlate how competitors’ financial and business activities influence the company’s marketing strategy. The company would also be able to determine its competitive advantages/disadvantages relative to competitors. Such competitor information (i.e. resources and capabilities, objectives, strategies, size and dominance within the market, positioning within the market) enables the company to anticipate competitor action, and leverage on competitor weaknesses to gain overall competitive advantage. (Learn Marketing 2011)

4. Government Data (External)

Government documents are a rich and accurate source of secondary data (i.e. laws, regulations, statistics, consumer information etc…). For example, the Department of Statistics Singapore provides data on Singapore demographics and trends, customer buying patterns, Singaporean’s health concerns or attitudes towards health. Using information from government data enables the company to determine as its target market and identify growing trends in Singapore. The company would also need to be aware of laws and regulations, which it will have to abide before starting a catering business (i.e. business taxes and licensing).

5. The Internet (External)

With financial and marketing information being easily available on the Internet due to increased technological advancements (i.e. multiple powerful search engines such as Google), the Internet is a growing source of secondary data. Moreover, with many companies having a website which contain a wealth of information about their current services, products and markets, the Internet can also be used to monitor competitors through their press releases and news stories. The company can also mine vital information about Singaporeans’ eating habits via social media websites (i.e. Facebook and Twitter). For example, the company can extract relevant useful information from the many food-related Facebook groups to discover more about Singaporean’s eating habits.


• Bakar, J A 2009, ‘Many go online to track weight loss’, The Straits Times, 11 May, pB3

• Hair, J F, Bush, R P & Ortinau, D J 2009, Marketing research in a digital information environment, 4th edn, McGraw-Hill, Singapore

• Department of Statistics Singapore, viewed 11 February 2011

< http://ww.singstat.gov.sg/>

• LearnMarketing, viewed 09 February 2011

< http://www.learnmarketing.net/competitoranalysis.htm/>

• The Nielsen Company Singapore viewed 15 February 2011 http://sg.nielsen.com/site/20090223.htm