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Nature of Secondary Data

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Abhijeet S
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Nature of Secondary Data - September 7th, 2010

The Nature of Secondary Data
  • Primary data are data that are collected to help solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity on which a decision is pending.

  • Secondary data are data that were developed for some purpose other than helping to solve the problem at hand.

  • Obviously, the U.S Census was not conducted primarily to help target potential buyers of Buick station wagons.

  • However, as the opening example illustrates, Census data and other data collected for other purposes can be used to target potential buyers or for other business applications.



Advantages of Secondary Data
  1. Secondary data can be gathered quickly and inexpensively, compared to primary data (data gathered specifically for the problem at hand).

  2. It clearly would have been foolish for Buick to collect information directly on the population characteristics, values and lifestyles of every ZIP code in the United States.

  3. Such data are already available and can be obtained much faster and at a fraction of the cost of collecting them again.



Problems Encountered with Secondary Data

  • Secondary data tend to cost substantially less than primary data and can be collected in less time.

  • Why, then, do we ever bother with primary data? Before secondary data can be used as the only source of information to help solve a marketing problem, they must be available, relevant, accurateand sufficient.

  • If one or more of these criteria are not met, primary data may have to be used.


Availability
  • For some marketing problems, no secondary data are available.

  • For example, suppose J.C. Penney’s management was interested in obtaining consumer evaluations of the physical layout of the company's current catalog as a guide for developing next year’s catalog.

  • It is unlikely that such information is available from secondary sources. It is probable that no other organization that had collected such data would be willing to make it available.

  • Sears may have performed such a study to guide in the development of their catalogs; it is, however, unlikely that a competitor would supply it to Penney’s. In this case, the company would have to conduct interviews of consumers to obtain the desired information.

  • Secondary data on the spending patterns, media preferences, and lifestyles of some population segments are very limited.

  • For example, there is a shortage of data on African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian - Americans
.

Relevance
  • Relevance refers to the extent to which the data fit the information needs of the research problem.

  • Even when data are available that cover the same general topic as that required by the research problem, they may not fit the requirements of the particular problem.


Four general problems reduce the relevance of data that would otherwise be useful.

  • First, there is often a difference in the units of measurement.

  • For example, many retail decisions require detailed information on the characteristics of the population within the "trade area."

  • However, available demographic statistics may be for counties, cities, census tracts, or ZIP code areas that do not match the trade area of the retail outlet.
  • A second factor that can reduce the relevance of secondary data is the necessity in some applications to use surrogate data.

  • Surrogate data are a substitute for more desirable data.

  • This was discussed earlier as surrogate information error.
  • Had Buick had access only to data on new car purchases by ZIP code, it would have been much less relevant than data on purchases of new station wagons.

  • A third general problem that can reduce the relevance of secondary data is the definition of classes.

  • Social class, age, income, firm size, and similar category-type breakdowns found in secondary data frequently do not coincide with the exact requirements of the research problem.

  • For example, Gallup and other public opinion polls frequently collect data on alcohol consumption and attitudes toward alcohol as part of their periodic surveys. Bacardi Imports would like to use this readily available data.

  • Unfortunately, Gallup and most other polls define adults as individuals 18 and over while Bacardi is interested in adults 21 and over.

  • The different definitions of classes is one reason Gallup estimates that 56 percent of adults “ever consume” alcoholic beverages compared to the 70 percent indicated by Bacardi's surveys.

  • The final major factor-affecting relevancy is time. Generally, research problems require current data.

  • Most secondary data, on the other hand, have been in existence for some time. For example, the Census of Retail Trade is conducted only every five years, and two years are required to process and publish the results.

  • A researcher using this source could easily be using data that is over four years old. This is becoming less of a problem as more and more data are being placed directly into electronic databases.

Accuracy
  • Accuracy is the third major concern of the user of secondary data.

  • When using secondary data, the original source should be consulted if possible.

  • This is important for two reasons.

  • First, the original report is generally more complete than a second or third report.

  • It often contains warnings, shortcomings, and methodological details not reported by the second or third source.

Sufficiency
  • Secondary data may be available, relevant, and accurate, but still may not be sufficient to meet all the data requirements for the problem being researched.

  • For example, a database that contained accurate, current demographic information on the purchases of various brands and types of automobiles could still be insufficient in terms of providing information to assist in developing new products or advertisements.
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Re: Nature of Secondary Data
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James Cord
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Re: Nature of Secondary Data - March 2nd, 2016

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhishreshthaa View Post
The Nature of Secondary Data
  • Primary data are data that are collected to help solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity on which a decision is pending.

  • Secondary data are data that were developed for some purpose other than helping to solve the problem at hand.

  • Obviously, the U.S Census was not conducted primarily to help target potential buyers of Buick station wagons.

  • However, as the opening example illustrates, Census data and other data collected for other purposes can be used to target potential buyers or for other business applications.



Advantages of Secondary Data
  1. Secondary data can be gathered quickly and inexpensively, compared to primary data (data gathered specifically for the problem at hand).

  2. It clearly would have been foolish for Buick to collect information directly on the population characteristics, values and lifestyles of every ZIP code in the United States.

  3. Such data are already available and can be obtained much faster and at a fraction of the cost of collecting them again.



Problems Encountered with Secondary Data

  • Secondary data tend to cost substantially less than primary data and can be collected in less time.

  • Why, then, do we ever bother with primary data? Before secondary data can be used as the only source of information to help solve a marketing problem, they must be available, relevant, accurateand sufficient.

  • If one or more of these criteria are not met, primary data may have to be used.


Availability
  • For some marketing problems, no secondary data are available.

  • For example, suppose J.C. Penney’s management was interested in obtaining consumer evaluations of the physical layout of the company's current catalog as a guide for developing next year’s catalog.

  • It is unlikely that such information is available from secondary sources. It is probable that no other organization that had collected such data would be willing to make it available.

  • Sears may have performed such a study to guide in the development of their catalogs; it is, however, unlikely that a competitor would supply it to Penney’s. In this case, the company would have to conduct interviews of consumers to obtain the desired information.

  • Secondary data on the spending patterns, media preferences, and lifestyles of some population segments are very limited.

  • For example, there is a shortage of data on African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian - Americans
.

Relevance
  • Relevance refers to the extent to which the data fit the information needs of the research problem.

  • Even when data are available that cover the same general topic as that required by the research problem, they may not fit the requirements of the particular problem.


Four general problems reduce the relevance of data that would otherwise be useful.

  • First, there is often a difference in the units of measurement.

  • For example, many retail decisions require detailed information on the characteristics of the population within the "trade area."

  • However, available demographic statistics may be for counties, cities, census tracts, or ZIP code areas that do not match the trade area of the retail outlet.
  • A second factor that can reduce the relevance of secondary data is the necessity in some applications to use surrogate data.

  • Surrogate data are a substitute for more desirable data.

  • This was discussed earlier as surrogate information error.
  • Had Buick had access only to data on new car purchases by ZIP code, it would have been much less relevant than data on purchases of new station wagons.

  • A third general problem that can reduce the relevance of secondary data is the definition of classes.

  • Social class, age, income, firm size, and similar category-type breakdowns found in secondary data frequently do not coincide with the exact requirements of the research problem.

  • For example, Gallup and other public opinion polls frequently collect data on alcohol consumption and attitudes toward alcohol as part of their periodic surveys. Bacardi Imports would like to use this readily available data.

  • Unfortunately, Gallup and most other polls define adults as individuals 18 and over while Bacardi is interested in adults 21 and over.

  • The different definitions of classes is one reason Gallup estimates that 56 percent of adults “ever consume” alcoholic beverages compared to the 70 percent indicated by Bacardi's surveys.

  • The final major factor-affecting relevancy is time. Generally, research problems require current data.

  • Most secondary data, on the other hand, have been in existence for some time. For example, the Census of Retail Trade is conducted only every five years, and two years are required to process and publish the results.

  • A researcher using this source could easily be using data that is over four years old. This is becoming less of a problem as more and more data are being placed directly into electronic databases.

Accuracy
  • Accuracy is the third major concern of the user of secondary data.

  • When using secondary data, the original source should be consulted if possible.

  • This is important for two reasons.

  • First, the original report is generally more complete than a second or third report.

  • It often contains warnings, shortcomings, and methodological details not reported by the second or third source.

Sufficiency
  • Secondary data may be available, relevant, and accurate, but still may not be sufficient to meet all the data requirements for the problem being researched.

  • For example, a database that contained accurate, current demographic information on the purchases of various brands and types of automobiles could still be insufficient in terms of providing information to assist in developing new products or advertisements.
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