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Secondary data can be extremely useful both in defining the population and in structuring the sample to be taken. For instance, government statistics on a country's agriculture will help decide how to stratify a sample and, once sample estimates have been calculated, these can be used to project those estimates to the population. The problems of secondary sources Whilst the benefits of secondary sources are considerable, their shortcomings have to be acknowledged.

There is a need to evaluate the quality of both the source of the data and the data itself. The main problems may be categorised as follows: Definitions The researcher has to be careful, when making use of secondary data, of the definitions used by those responsible for its preparation. Suppose, for example, researchers are interested in rural communities and their average family size.

If published statistics are consulted then a check must be done on how terms such as "family size" have been defined. They may refer only to the nucleus family or include the extended family. Even apparently simple terms such as 'farm size' need careful handling. Such figures may refer to any one of the following: It should be noted that definitions may change over time and where this is not recognised erroneous conclusions may be drawn.

Geographical areas may have their boundaries redefined, units of measurement and grades may change and imported goods can be reclassified from time to time for purposes of levying customs and excise duties.

The only solution is to try to speak to the individuals involved in the collection of the data to obtain some guidance on the level of accuracy of the data. The problem is sometimes not so much 'error' but differences in levels of accuracy required by decision makers. When the research has to do with large investments in, say, food manufacturing, management will want to set very tight margins of error in making market demand estimates.

In other cases, having a high level of accuracy is not so critical. For instance, if a food manufacturer is merely assessing the prospects for one more flavour for a snack food already produced by the company then there is no need for highly accurate estimates in order to make the investment decision. Source bias Researchers have to be aware of vested interests when they consult secondary sources. Those responsible for their compilation may have reasons for wishing to present a more optimistic or pessimistic set of results for their organisation.

It is not unknown, for example, for officials responsible for estimating food shortages to exaggerate figures before sending aid requests to potential donors. Similarly, and with equal frequency, commercial organisations have been known to inflate estimates of their market shares.

Reliability The reliability of published statistics may vary over time. It is not uncommon, for example, for the systems of collecting data to have changed over time but without any indication of this to the reader of published statistics. Geographical or administrative boundaries may be changed by government, or the basis for stratifying a sample may have altered. Other aspects of research methodology that affect the reliability of secondary data is the sample size, response rate, questionnaire design and modes of analysis.

Time scale Most censuses take place at 10 year intervals, so data from this and other published sources may be out-of-date at the time the researcher wants to make use of the statistics.

The time period during which secondary data was first compiled may have a substantial effect upon the nature of the data. For instance, the significant increase in the price obtained for Ugandan coffee in the mid's could be interpreted as evidence of the effectiveness of the rehabilitation programme that set out to restore coffee estates which had fallen into a state of disrepair.

However, more knowledgeable coffee market experts would interpret the rise in Ugandan coffee prices in the context of large scale destruction of the Brazilian coffee crop, due to heavy frosts, in , Brazil being the largest coffee producer in the world. Whenever possible, marketing researchers ought to use multiple sources of secondary data. In this way, these different sources can be cross-checked as confirmation of one another.

Where differences occur an explanation for these must be found or the data should be set aside. As can be seen, the flowchart divides into two phases. The early stages of the flowchart relate to the relevance of the data to the research objectives.

The later stages of the flowchart are concerned with questions about the accuracy of secondary data. Internal sources of secondary information Sales data: All organisations collect information in the course of their everyday operations. It is a data source in its own right. It can provide a solution - should we go on and gather primary data or can we reach a conclusion? Acts as background information. Can be a substitute for primary information. Aids in problem clarification.

Move from internal to external and from general to specific. Field research on the other hand is where you talk to people to help solve the particular problem at hand; it is original, undocumented and unpublished material. What can I learn from my reservation details? Times of the year - busy and quiet. What methods have worked? Top travel agents and clients. Location of most visitors.

Numbers of nights spent. Needs - use of leisure centre or conference facilities. Companies mainly use them? Trend in customers business. Examine total costs and sales. Sales for each sales person. What has been done? Average sale per customer. Top 5 bottom 5. It is not a published data; it has to be gathered by the researcher himself by tapping various resources. Primary data is usually collected for specific purposes.

The main sources from where primary data can be obtained are a Salesmen b Dealers; c Consumers etc. It is a very slow process of collecting data and involves huge costs. But results obtained from this data are original and tend to be more accurate and reliable. Salesmen are the most important source of providing first hand information. They are appointed by the owners for the sale and promotion of its products. They have a direct link with the consumers understand tastes, preferences and buying habits of the consumers.

The marketing manager may direct the salesmen to prepare periodical reports containing the information collected by them. The information collected in this manner is original and more meaningful. This will further enhance the morale of salesmen as they feel that they are contributing towards the formulation of marketing policies of the organisation. But sometimes information provided by salesmen is not accurate and upto the mark.

The salesmen are not properly trained and do not know the methodology to collect the information properly. This is another source of collecting primary data. Valuable information can be collected with regard to demand of the product from retailers.


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Secondary data is information that has been collected for a purpose other than your current research project but has some relevance and utility for your research. Sources of Secondary Data. You can break the sources of secondary data into internal sources and external sources.

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There are two sources of information from where data for marketing research can be obtained. (A) Internal Sources: These refer to the sources of information within the organisation. In certain cases internal sources are indispensable without which the researcher cannot obtain desired results.

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Secondary marketing research uses data that already exists and has been collected by someone else for another purpose. Sources of secondary data can come from within the firm itself – this is known as internal secondary data. External secondary data, on the other hand, is data that has been. Jun 06,  · Internal Sources of Secondary Data Internal sources can be classified into four broad categories: • accounting records • sales force reports • miscellaneous records • internal experts Accounting Records. The basis for accounting records concerned with sales is the sales invoice.

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Internal Secondary Research Sources Of Internal Secondary Research. Internally an organisation has access to a wealth of information, which can be a useful tool for decision making for managers. Secondary sources of information may be divided into two categories: internal sources and external sources. Internal sources of secondary information Sales data: All organisations collect information in the course of their everyday operations.