What is the difference between primary and secondary data?

What is the difference between primary and secondary data?

Primary and secondary data both provide companies with invaluable information for their respective objectives. But what exactly are they? To help you answer this question, we’ve broken down all the key components of each data type.

Although tertiary data sources also exist, they work mostly as compilations of primary and secondary data. More information on tertiary sources can be found here.

Primary Data

This is simply the data collected from primary sources for the first time, taken directly from the source of origin. You’ll hear it commonly described as ‘real-time’ data, which is simply data that is available for use immediately, as opposed to data that has been stored away for later use. This information is more accurate due to its timely nature.

Because this data takes lots of effort and time to collect, it tends to be more expensive, although this will depend on the particular data collection company. A data collection company such as Shepper  will offer a range of services that fit your needs and budget.

Examples of primary data collection include surveys, experiments, interviews and questionnaires. For most work environments, this will include market research, and methods such as surveys and questionnaires can be given to both workers and customers.

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Secondary Data

If primary data is collected directly from the source in real time, it’s safe to assume secondary data is data that has already been collected previously. With the data being readily available, the cost will also be reduced.

Unfortunately, secondary data will not provide the same accuracy as data collected firsthand. You are also less likely to find data specific to your needs, but the time and money saved through this method can make it more appealing. Companies will often use this data as a foundation for their specific needs, making adjustments to fit their desired objectives.

Examples of secondary data collection include websites and articles, government publications and records, and books and journals. As none of these data forms are original, they will need to be cited and oftentimes paid for, although this cost is typically less than the primary counterparts.

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