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Consumer Behavior 6600-355 Course Guide: Data Sources: U.S.

Primary and Secondary Data and Sources

Primary sources of  marketing information are based upon original research. This original research may be conducted by you or someone you pay to conduct the research for you. It may also be data or information that others collected for their own purposes and have made available to you either at no cost or for a fee. The purpose of primary market research is often to produce data that will fill a gap in marketing knowledge and/or provide a competitive advantage. It can be designed to answer specific questions you have about your business, industry, customers, products, or competition.
Primary source information in marketing can be either quantitative or qualitative, and is usually obtained through surveys, interviews, observation and focus groups. Quantitative marketing research will produce data that can be placed in an Excel spreadsheet, and is usually gathered through surveys, opinion polls, and observation. Qualitative research is conducted and used to answer non-quantifiable aspects of knowledge, such as attitudes and opinions. This type of information is usually gathered through interviews, observations, and focus groups. Conducting primary research can be costly and time-consuming. The best path to locating primary data that others have produced is through the subscription business and industry databases provided by the UL Libraries and OhioLINK, as well as the many government and organization databases linked in this guide.
Examples of Primary Data Sources:
  • Mintel Academic report on car sharing and ride sharing attitudes
  • Mintel Academic report on millennial food shopping choices
  • American Community Survey population studies
  • American Marketing Association focus group study
  • Private research firm observation study of brand choice
  • Scholarly research study on consumer preference that utilizes interview or survey data
  • Journal article reporting original consumer research
Secondary sources of marketing information are any sources that describe, summarize, review, interpret, and analyze primary sources of data, quantitative or qualitative. Secondary information can be found in books and book chapters, newspapers, magazines, trade publications, reports, and journal articles that describe and evaluate original research done by others. Secondary data can be produced by government agencies, trade associations, public and private organizations, marketing research firms, and individual researchers. sources are available to a wide audience, including your competition. Although most secondary data and information sources, such as those produced by  are available at no or little cost, some private market research firms create large in-depth industry reports that can be expensive to purchase. The best path to locating secondary data and information sources is through the subscription business and industry databases provided by the UL Libraries and OhioLINK, as well as various marketing association and research firm web sites.
Examples of Secondary Data/Information Sources:
  • Mintel report on coffee consumption that utilizes and summarizes data from a variety of primary sources
  • Statista dossier that utilizes and summarizes data from a variety of primary sources
  • Trade association forecast or opinion piece
  • Scholarly article reporting on a consumer study (data may be primary, but article may be secondary)
  • Journal article that describes and evaluates original research done by others
  • Newspaper article on back-to-school purchasing trends

Data-Planet and Statista (Large Data Aggregators)

These databases are a convenient portal to a vast amount of data from a multitude of sources, including the U.S. Government sources listed in boxes below.

Selected Data-Planet Guides

Data Sources for the U.S. and Ohio

Economic Indicators, Financial Data, and Employment

Demographic Information

Crime Data

Education and Health Data

Data-Planet Video Tutorials

American FactFinder 2 Help

The following tools will help get you started with American FactFinder 2:

Research and Public Opinion