What is secondary research and why do it?
Secondary research or desk research, involves reviewing existing qualitative and quantitative data from internal and external sources.
Internal data includes sales results, cost of goods sold, revenue and profitability, customer complaints, NPS, customer satisfaction tracking and average customer lifetime value, employee engagement, turnover and eNPS. We’ll always review annual and sustainability reports, business and people, brand and marketing strategies, plans and performance to make sure we understand the business context, drivers and barriers.
External data includes market and industry size and trends, competitor data, employee trends and KPI benchmarks, population statistics, customer segmentation, usage and attitudes, brand equity tracking, traditional and digital advertising tracking, digital, social media and website analytics, qualitative customer, competitor and brand research. We’ll also look at parallel markets and benchmarks outside the category, NPD and innovation databases and readily available online examples of employer and customer brand positioning, value propositions and creative.
It is important to review existing data to understand the context in which strategies are being developed, to identify gaps in the research, define the business and research objectives and problems, draft any hypotheses and key questions to answer through the rest of the proposal, and scope the research requirements. It also helps us set the “before” data so we can measure success of the project “after”.
In many organisations, there is already a lot of existing data. It is through this review that we work to understand whether the data is valid, reliable and useful for our project. It may reduce the cost of the upcoming project with part of the work already done. We may find new insights simply looking at the data with fresh eyes and within the context of this project brief. And there might be “old” innovation ideas stored in the bottom drawer that might have been ahead of their time and now would resonate with the market.
In other organisations where there is limited data, we will recommend what you need for this project as well as ongoing data requirements that help measure performance.
How we go about it
In the project scope, we’ll include secondary research and high-level areas we need to review and analyse, as the first stage after briefing.
Prior to the briefing session, we’ll provide you with a checklist of documents to be supplied to a shared drive.
During the briefing, we’ll ask you to go through the documents so we know what they are.
In the review stage, we’ll systematically go through and review the data including credibility of the sources and reliability of the data, then drop the relevant insights with sources into a master PowerPoint document that you can have as a reference but isn’t presented.
At the end of the review, we’ll pull out key insights, issues and opportunities, draft the business objectives and problem, draw our conclusions and hypothesis, identify gaps in the data and recommend the next steps. This is the document that is presented.
It may be pertinent to conduct some initial strategy development such as market mapping or develop workshop and research discussion guides, at this stage. However, this will usually be costed in the next phase of work, whether that’s strategy development, workshops and/or further research.
All of our projects include an element of secondary research, with a range of deliverables including with market sizing and opportunity, brand positioning, marketing strategy, customer segmentation, customer value proposition, unifying idea and employer brand strategy.
Code of Professional Behaviour
As Qualified Professional Researcher and member of The Research Society, we are bound by our Code of Professional Behaviour to carry out research activities in a professional and ethical manner, with particular focus on protecting the respondent.
Upon receipt of your brief, we will scope the proposal with recommended research design, methodology and sample. To scope, we ask for your best attempt at the information below in however we understand you may not know all the information yourself, or as part of a larger brand or employer brand project it hasn’t been defined yet. Most of these areas we will help you define more tightly through the process, in particular the problem and sample.
When you’re briefing us, please include your best attempt at the following:
- Definition of the problem (that’s led to the brief)
- Background (to business, brand, employer brand, customers, employees, stakeholders etc)
- Business objective and problem
- Research objectives (including specifics you’d like to understand)
- How the information will be used (including action standards)
- Target market (demographics, geographies, psychographics, behavioural)
- Research in your business (including department/responsibility, general attitudes towards research and quantitative vs qualitative research, existing research/information sources)
- Key contacts
We will look at your brief and recommend the most effective combination of secondary and primary research, qualitative and quantitative research, creative solutions and collaborative partners to meet your needs.
Download a copy of the research brief here: THBC RESEARCH BRIEF
How can we help you?
Please contact us to discuss further what we can do for you.