Marketing information must be timely, organised, useful and in a simple form if it is to ease decision making. It should also be easily manipulated to satisfy the changing and ad hoc requirements of management for information. There is more to marketing information than marketing research. Indeed, marketing research is a subsystem of the marketing information system. A Marketing Information System (MIS) is a structure within an organisation designed to gather, process and store data from the organisation's external and internal environment and to disseminate this in the form of information to the organisation's marketing decision makers. The activities performed by an MIS and its subsystems include information discovery, collection, interpretation (which may involve validation and filtering), analysis, and intra-company dissemination (storage, transmission, and/or dumping). Chapter Objectives
The objectives of this chapter are:
• To convince the reader of the benefits of beginning any marketing research with a thorough search of secondary sources of data • To articulate the advantages of secondary data
• To highlight the potential errors which can be hidden within secondary data • To outline some of the main internal and external sources of data available to commercial enterprises, and • To help the reader to recognise the transition, in marketing research, from a dependence upon published sources of secondary data to electronically stored secondary data. Structure Of The Chapter
At the outset of the chapter a strong case is made for studying secondary data before engaging in primary research. The potential benefits of beginning any study with secondary data are outlined, including the prospect that in some cases possession of relevant secondary data may obviate the need for primary research to be undertaken at all. This discussion is followed by an overview of the questions that should be asked when evaluating secondary sources and data in terms of their validity and accuracy. Thereafter, the principal internal and external sources of secondary data are described. The final section of this chapter briefly points towards future developments in the storage and retrieval of secondary data. Mention is made of electronic systems like the Internet and CD-ROMs. The nature of secondary sources of information
Secondary data is data which has been collected by individuals or agencies for purposes other than those of our particular research study. For example, if a government department has conducted a survey of, say, family food expenditures, then a food manufacturer might use this data in the organisation's evaluations of the total potential market for a new product. Similarly, statistics prepared by a ministry on agricultural production will prove useful to a whole host of people and organisations, including those marketing agricultural supplies. No marketing research study should be undertaken without a prior search of secondary sources (also termed desk research). There are several grounds for making such a bold statement. • Secondary data may be available which is entirely appropriate and wholly adequate to draw conclusions and answer the question or solve the problem. Sometimes primary data collection simply is not necessary. • It is far cheaper to collect secondary data than to obtain primary data. For the same level of research budget a thorough examination of secondary sources can yield a great deal more information than can be had through a primary data collection exercise. • The time involved in searching secondary sources is much less than that needed to complete primary data collection. • Secondary sources of information can yield more accurate data than that obtained through primary research. This is not always true but where a government or international agency has undertaken a large scale survey, or even a census, this is likely to yield far more accurate results than custom designed and executed...
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