Primary and Secondary Research

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Companies invest on market research to obtain data and information needed to make informed market decisions. In order to generate accurate, reliable, valid and up to date information, a combination of primary and secondary research is used. The information is applied in the determination of potential market opportunities, performance metrics and most importantly, to strategize on the product, place, price and promotion mixes. In this essay, John Lewis organization is used as a benchmark to examine how market research is used for the various marketing activities that are influenced by either the internal or external environmental conditions.  

Background of John Lewis

John Lewis is a high-end brand that operates across the United Kingdom. The departmental stores offer a variety of solutions to customers and partners. The firms are composed of 85,500 partners who own more than 50 stores in UK. The partners who are also involved in the internal governance system provide branded products and services that are manufactured by the firm and others from exclusive lines and suppliers. The firm has a sourcing firm located in Delhi, India which ensures value addition for all the operations. Success of the company is attributed to the marketing function which is able to convert information obtained from the market to suit the needs of the diverse partners and consumers.



Primary and Secondary Market Research

According to Armstrong (3), marketing research is the process of collecting, recording, storing and analysis of customer’s data to assess their preferences and needs. The data is used to offer solutions that can satisfy the customers and promote the brand in the sector. In marketing, primary research is specifically conducted to obtain data that maximizes the agenda of the project. For instance, when the marketing team wants to determine the influence of a new product or service to the potential buyers, the researchers identify the target market and approach them using emails, newsletters, or by use of questionnaires to obtain feedback and make informed decisions. On the other hand, secondary data is usually collected by another researcher for a particular purpose but the current investigator uses the information to make remarks for another project. For instance reports documented by other firms can be used to induce information for marketing purposes.

How John Lewis Uses Primary Research to Contribute to Its Marketing Plans

Primary research answers specific questions for the market area under investigation. Primary research offers concrete information for the products and services and subsequently helps in pricing, brand positioning and defining the target market. John Lewis uses the primary research data to get facts, function, significance and considerations for the product, service, promotion, and place elements of the brand.

A study by Market Research World indicated that market research offers defines the organizations products and services in the market and assists to determine whether the brand is successful or not (Meagan, 2017). The facts are then used to create a targeted marketing approach since without the information the plan would be based on guess work. Lack of credible information can lead to missing of targets and subsequent lost revenue. In addition, primary research focuses on the target market and as such, information about what they think and perceive concerning the brand is availed for formulation of individualized solutions.  

 Product: The firm utilizes the Bringing Quality to Life approach to ensure that all the products are sustainable. Home and design, electrical, fashion and beauty and other types of products face competition in the industry from substitutes. As such, the firm undertakes primary research by focusing on each of the product portfolios to assess the perception of the customers on the products and the value addition elements required to maximize satisfaction. For example, the research on the Baby and Child sector establishes the current styles and designs that buyers want so that the produced brand is customized.

Promotion: By understanding the perceptions of the customers towards the products, the firm is positioned to identify the advertisement images and the types of product sales changes required to improve performance. For instance, the partners are using Twitter and Istagram to share content. Depending on the method mostly viable for the buyers, the company is able to determine the promotion technique to use and reach out to more people.

Place: Primary research reaches out to the target market at an individual level and as a result, the firm identifies gaps in form of delivery location and time. It is therefore possible for the firm to generate ideas about the best region construct new outlets and satisfy the local consumers.

Price: The research assists in assessing the impact of the current market prices on client’s satisfaction. Through the research, the firm establishes the needs of the premium and mass buyers so that the applied pricing strategy maximizes the needs of the buyers. If the customers feel that the products are overpriced, the marketers can provide discounts and free packages to create traffic for the goods at the same prices.

As mentioned above, the primary research helps companies get facts, considerations and functional ideas that assist in developing the marketing plan. Since the research is focused on specific aspects of the company’s products and services, the study information can be said to be internal. The data is used at an internal level to build the firms marketing function.

The information obtained through the primary research is both qualitative and quantitative. The marketers uses the quantitative method by designing surveys that ask customers to rate satisfaction rate at a scale of 1 to 10 where one is for the least satisfied buyers and 10 represents buyers who are completely satisfied with the firms products and services. In addition, qualitative research is used such that buyers are interviewed and their own words are used to describe their feelings about the brand. Both techniques are commonly used in primary research study since questions can be customized to specific attributes of the brand.

How John Lewis Uses Secondary Research to Contribute to Its Marketing Plans

Secondary research utilizes information from other studies and sources to make conclusions about an industry or brand. John Lewis operates in the retail sector and as such, its strategies are influenced by external conditions. For example, limitations on export affect the company’s ability to export from its office in Delhi, India. The firm serves global clients and as such, economic, social, and political conditions prevalent in other nations affect operations. To counter adverse effects and take advantage of opportunities, the firm uses information from government agencies, consulting firms in the retail industry and analysts to make decisions.

According to Bhasin (2018), secondary market research provides a background for primary study provides information about the external environment and facilitates strategic decision making. First, John Lewis marketers use the data found in physical and online sources concerning the expectations of the customers and overall industry to determine gaps that needs primary research. For instance, the external analysts may predict the online retail industry to grow at a rate of 10 percent in the five years. Such information is used to conduct a research that is individualized to the company’s target market so that the management is able to deduce how the buyers perceive online transactions and the best applications to use.

The secondary data provides an overview of the external market conditions including demographic, economic, and social factors that influence consumer’s purchasing power. Such information is individualized to a specific region or consumer group therefore make it possible for the management to make decisions. For example, information about a new competitor in Wales will help the management design a counteractive strategy to ensure that it retains the current market share. If the same region reports low revenues consistently, the management can make the decision to focus on other outlets to maximize on profits.

Secondary research assists the firm to make decision on the best marketing mix for sustainable market growth as depicted below:

Product: Reports about the expectations of consumers on the different types of products offered by the firm such as home and design and electronics helps in market positioning. Demographic groups respond differently to market changes and as such, the secondary data offers customized aspects of the various customer segments that can be used to make decisions that will maximize value for the brand and target buyers.

Promotion: Information from secondary research provides an exploration of a variety of promotion tools that have been used by firms and their outcomes. For instance, in the era of digitization, secondary research is an effective basis for establishing applications and promotional designs that work best for different consumers. The firm can use the information to institute promotional materials and content needed to create awareness and drive sales.

Price: Secondary research addresses issues to do with cost strategies and supply and demand conditions at different points in time to determine the best pricing strategy. For instance, when introducing a new product, a firm requires data to determine whether to use discounts or free samples for that particular market. If a competitor or another firm in a different industry uses discounting strategy and it bore positive outcomes, the company uses that information to set its own strategy for better results.

Place: Secondary data offers information about the regulatory policies and conditions influencing operations in the industry. The organization is therefore positioned to produce products that maximize customer’s expectations at the different regions. For example, if a new brand is offered by a rival in a region that the firm is dominant, the management uses the information to identify gaps of the existing outlet designs and delivery approaches so that they are improvised to counter competition.

Information obtained from the secondary market research is mainly quantitative in nature. The data is obtained from literature reviews, reports and statistics that are not representative of the specific attributes of the firm. It is upon the organization to evaluate the information and select content that fits the conditions of the firm. The information obtained from the secondary research contributes both internally and externally. Internally, the company uses the information to customize needs for its target market. At an external perspective, the information is used to position the operations of the company so that they are in accordance with the national and industry requirements.

Limitations of Marketing Research to the Development of Marketing Plans

Although both primary and secondary research offers guidelines for the formation of market plans, the studies are limited with regards to dependability, market diversity and changes in the external environment.

The information is only viable if there are not foreseeable customer changes. A change in preferences means that a new research is conducted. In addition, consumers are diverse and thus offer different satisfaction levels and expectations on the brand. It is therefore difficult to provide custom solutions and meet all the needs of the market based on the research. Changes in external environment such as technology may limit the ability of the information to create sustainable plans.

Recommendations to Improve Validity

Given the diverse nature of the brand portfolio and customer segments, possibility of getting multiple data sets that create difficulties in individualizing the market plans is high. Validity means that the information is credible and reliable. The recommended courses of action that the firm should focus on to improve validity of market research are: focusing on one area at a time, application of both primary and secondary methodologies, and conducting a pilot study before the actual research. By utilizing primary and secondary techniques, the management is able to obtain a variety of information to select the most viable ones. Focusing on one study area guarantees authenticity of information and the pilot study establishes gaps and concerns for improvement.

Part 2

Smart Objectives

SMART objectives as noted by Hallahan (255) should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. In a competitive market, it is important to gauge the viability of the company’s goals in meeting the mission and vision statements for sustainable development. Based on the availed market information, the company should utilize the following SMART objectives:

Specific: Connecting with customers using various communication platforms including Facebook and Twitter to determine their expectations on the firm concerning a new product that is being availed in the market.

Measurable: Collaboration between the logistics and sales team should be heightened to reduce waiting time.

Attainable: The sales team to liaise with various partners and the target customers using the online platforms to assist in arranging clients orders

Relevant: Information about product availability to be automated for customers to make informed choices.

Time-bound: Products should meet the prevailing market needs.

Marketing Planning Process Model

The framework is specifically used to determine the objectives of the organization, resources, opportunities, and marketing strategies and implementation of the plans. The model utilizes the SWOT tool to make an informed choice. In this case, marketing research provides information about the firm to deliberate on its core capabilities. John Lewis has a large consumer base and extended brand that offers solutions to multiple consumers thereby strengthening its position in the industry. However, the firm lacks focuses on premium consumers thereby limiting its penetration. The firm has the opportunity of developing its portfolio and reach to mass market. Competition in the global retail industry is a threat to the brand.

The above audit of the firm using SWOT means that marketing objectives should guarantee positive outcomes to avoid reducing the brand’s impact and resilience. The model follows five main steps: first, a determination of the firm’s objectives is done so that SMART plans can be built. Secondly, the financial, human, and capital resources are assessed so that there is a balance between the goals and the firms capabilities. Risks that can limit implementation are determined and addressed. Fourth, market strategies that are flexible are designed and finally, the actual implementation process is carried out. The marketing planning process is depicted in figure 1.


Market research is important in the determination of individualized strategies to meet the objectives of an organization. It is important to utilize both primary and secondary research tools to obtain diverse information so that the market plans produce the expected outcomes. 

Works Cited

Armstrong, Gary, et al. Marketing: an introduction. Pearson Education, 2015.

Hallahan, Kirk. "Organizational goals and communication objectives in strategic communication." The Routledge handbook of strategic communication

(2015): 244-266.

Hair Jr, Joseph F., and Bryan Lukas. Marketing research. Vol. 2. McGraw-Hill Education Australia, 2014.

Meagan, Van. Why is Marketing Research Important for Creating Marketing Plan. Web.

September 18, 2023



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