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Marketing Information Management

Sources of Secondary Data

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The Advantages of Secondary Data

Secondary data have definite advantages.  First, such data are almost always less expensive to collect than primary data. Moreover, secondary data can be collected quickly and easily, given the wide range of computer systems we can tap that house these data.

The Disadvantages of Secondary Data

Secondary data does have disadvantages. Remember that secondary data were collected by someone else at an earlier point in time and, generally, with a different purpose in mind. For these reasons secondary data are often out of date, incomplete, and inaccurate. As marketing researchers, we have to evaluate secondary data on these dimensions before the data are used in decision making. Problems with the quality of secondary data certainly make the data less useful.   In extreme situations, secondary data may be absolutely worthless.

Some Useful Sources of Secondary Data

Exhibit 1
Some Useful Web Sites

Exhibit 2
Some Useful Web Sites

Exhibits 1 and 2 highlight some of my more favorite web-based sources for secondary marketing information. These two exhibits by nowpe1.gif (1777 bytes) means exhaust the range of information available via the web.  I could teach an entire course just on accessing the ever-growing number of web-based resources. But, these two slides do show some very useful sites.  

Dun and Bradstreet's Business reports ( are available on-line. There is a fee for  downloading reports on specific businesses, but these reports can be purchased via credit card in a secure environment. The risk is minimal. The convenience is fantastic compared to the old way we had to access these reports via mail or fax.

The US Census Bureau ( has a web site loaded with valuable business information. This web page provides access to the 1990 census of population (and soon to the 2000 census), as well as to other census products. Most of the information is free, but some products are for sale.

SEC LogoThe Securities and Exchange Commission ( has an excellent web site.  Probably the most useful component of the SEC site, for our purposes, is the link to the Edgar database. The Edgar database is a repository for most of the financial filings that public companies must submit periodically to the SEC.

One of my favorite sources is EBSCO Publishing. EBSCO is the Internet version of ABI Inform. Those of you who are familiar with ABI Inform know that it is a very large database consisting of abstracts and articles from thousands of journals and magazines. A wide range of topics can be searched directly in EBSCO. Many of the resulting articles can be down-loaded in full-text version. As a minimum, abstracts are provided.

Some of the more valuable web sites are those that provide links to other sites. One of my favorite is The Sales and Marketing Management Resource Center (SMMRC). Sales and Marketing Management Resource Center is a commercial product, as is the Wall Street Research Network. Both of these latter sites provide links to additional sources, as well as provide their own services that are generally free of charge.

In addition to the Internet sources that are available, a large number of databases are now available on CD-ROM. CD-ROM has the advantage that is very portable and one CD-ROM can handle over 600 megabytes of information. This translates into thousands upon thousands of pages of data. Entire encyclopedias are available on CD-ROM and textbooks are commonly produced on CD-ROM.

Exhibit 3
GIS Software

A relatively new CD-ROM product is the Geographic Information System (GIS). Two examples are Arc View  and Atlas GIS  (Exhibit 3). These programs are  Windows-based and incorporate census data from government and private sources. These programs allow companies to create customized maps to locate prospective customers and provide complete descriptions of these customers using a range of demographic information. Most of these programs are flexible enough to allow firms to incorporate information from their own customer databases.

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Page last modified: January 18, 2002