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Primary research

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Definition: primary research

Primary research, also called primary surveys or English field research, describes an empirical method in which new, non-existent data is collected, analyzed and interpreted. The data is collected once or periodically. As a result, this type of market research is time-consuming and costly. As a rule, the primary research is carried out by market research institutes on behalf of consumer goods manufacturers. Both a full survey with all eligible companies and persons and a partial survey with a selected group are possible.

The methods of primary research

  • survey: in person, by phone, in writing, online
  • observation: Field and laboratory observation
  • experiment: Laboratory, market and product test
  • Panel research: Consumer, trade and specialty panels

The survey method in detail

  • A distinction is made between open questions, which can be answered freely, and closed questions, which can only be answered with "Yes"Or"No“Can be answered.
  • Written and telephone surveys may only be carried out with express consent
  • Telephone surveys mostly carried out by call centers
  • Written surveys are carried out using a series questionnaire that is sent by post
  • Advantages of a one-to-one interview: Use of aids, observation of the interlocutor and his reaction, long and detailed questioning is possible
  • Disadvantages of a personal interview: expensive and time consuming
  • Advantages of a telephone survey: fast and inexpensive as well as higher anonymity and thus lower inhibition threshold
  • Disadvantages of a telephone survey: low willingness, no use of aids
  • Advantages of a written survey: low costs, high anonymity and no administration of interviewers or call centers
  • Disadvantages of a written survey: Low willingness
  • Advantages of an online survey: inexpensive, aids can be sent by e-mail, reliable evaluation using software
  • Disadvantages of an online survey: Falsification of the results possible through multiple participation

The observation method in detail

This method examines the behavior of the participants. It is not necessary to actively intervene in what is happening.

  • Field observation: Test persons are observed in their familiar and natural environment. A personal and machine-based observation is possible. The first method does not use technical aids such as cameras. This observation mostly happens in the knowledge of the test persons. Apparatus observation, however, is carried out covertly. Here technical devices are used to z. B. to analyze buying behavior.
  • Laboratory observation: Reactions that are independent of location are usually tested. Here, too, a distinction is made between personal and machine-based observation.
  • Advantages of observation: unconscious behavior can also be observed, independence from the willingness of the test persons to provide information
  • disadvantage: Only the sensually perceptible is examined, not all relevant situations can be observed

The panel research in detail

In panel research, repeated surveys of the same group take place. Accordingly, the same test persons are interviewed on various topics over a longer period of time.
  • advantages: Time advantage when surveying current topics, recording of changes in behavior, preferences and attitudes possible. B. be analyzed in politics
  • disadvantage: Loss of motivation of the respondents (panel mortality), attitudes can be formed or changed through questioning (panel effect), distorted results due to personal events of the test subjects (panel freeze) and risk to research from jumping test subjects (panel mortality)

Advantages of primary research

  • Authentic data are collected for a specific question
  • Data is current and exclusive
  • The data is problem-oriented, precise and therefore relevant for decision-making

Disadvantages of primary research

  • High expenditure of time and money
  • An absolute must is your own know-how and personnel capacity
  • Usually only possible through external consultants


  • Primary research describes an empirical method in which new, non-existent data is collected, analyzed and interpreted.
  • Methods of primary research: Survey, observation, experiment and panels.
  • Advantages of primary research: Current and exclusive data that is problem-oriented, precise and therefore relevant for decision-making.
  • disadvantage: High expenditure of time and money, mostly only possible through external employees