Market Research Series: The Data You Need – In-Market or Desktop Study?


Sep 21, 2016 | Marketing & Branding

We’re excited to continue our market research series today with a discussion of the different types of research that organizations can use and what they can gain from each one.

“As you might have noticed, we’re a bit prone to geeking out here at SageAge over market research. It is, after all, the backbone of most of what we do for our clients!” says Malissa Illiano, Senior Consultant & Director of Market Research at SageAge Strategies. “We’ve discovered the vast benefits of strategic market research and truly love working with communities to help them uncover how it can also give them huge returns.”

To start our discussion, let’s first refresh ourselves on why market research is a worthwhile investment for your community.

What Market Research Can Teach Us:

  • Whether there is demand for your product or service. Assuming people will want to buy or invest in your product is not a scientific method for determining true demand but market research is!
  • What kind of profit – or loss – you might experience. Profit isn’t always cold, hard cash. It can also come in the form of increased goodwill among your audience and word of mouth. But, it can also be cash, and market research will help you figure out what that number might look like.
  • What the future looks like. Yes, it’s true, market research can be something of a crystal ball! Whether or not your new product or service has staying power or is just short-lived phase is important when it comes to planning and executing smart marketing and business strategy.
  • Ways to improve. You may think you have the best product or service in mind, but the cool thing about market research is that it takes the opinion out of the conversation. Getting clear information on what you could do to make your product or service better leads to profit, plain and simple.
  • New ideas or opportunities you never even considered. Setting out to discover something about a community and its prospective product or service and finding an entirely new, untapped opportunity waiting for a business leader to capitalize on is probably one of the coolest things about market research.

Pretty neat, right? We think so. Now let’s look at two different kinds of market research and what each brings to the table.

In-Market or Primary Research

In-market research, also known as field research, requires considerable leg work because it gathers the information you are looking for directly for your specific purposes, rather than being gathered from already-existing sources. This can include:

  • Direct observation
  • Surveys, both in person and online
  • Focus groups
  • Conversations and interviews with current and prospective clients, and more

As you might expect, this type of research requires more work, but has the benefit of providing you and your team with the most accurate, insightful and direct information possible. There’s really nothing more valuable than getting it straight from the horse’s mouth, and that’s precisely what in-market research allows.

Because you will have the opportunity to be extremely pointed and specific with your questions, you will learn things about your community (or your competition!) that you may have never considered before, both good and bad. It’s a truly eye-opening, potentially transformative experience that can be challenging. But what worthwhile effort isn’t?

The downside? Primary research takes more time, more effort and is often more expensive than the other type of research we’ll discuss next.

Desktop Research or Secondary Research

Desktop research is also known as secondary research because it relies on gathering existing information from secondary sources that are already available to you without going through the processes described above. It can include:

  • Information found on the internet
  • Existing market research
  • Demographic and geographic information
  • Governmental or university studies
  • Information from local agencies, libraries and more

Desktop studies utilize already available information and build on it, then they compile it in such a way that it provides useful and easy-to-understand insight into your market and the current situation. It is also more efficient and is a faster way of gathering information.

Deciding which type of research makes the most sense for your community really boils down to what questions you want answered and what information you need to make smart decisions. It could be one type or the other or, more than likely, a combination of both!

SageAge Strategies is a multiple award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that can provide market research expertise for your community. For more information, please call or email Malissa Illiano at 717-695-6740 /

Contact us today!

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