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MK 436: Digital Marketing Analytics

A guide to locating and accessing data from secondary sources.

Primary & Secondary Sources in Marketing Research

Content in this online guide will show you where to access secondary data sources for your marketing analytics course.

Primary sources are original materials. They provide direct evidence or firsthand account of an event, experiment, person, company or object. Examples of primary sources include eyewitness accounts, interviews, autobiographies, drawings, statistical data, and journals articles reporting original research.

Secondary sources describe, summarize, review, interpret, and analyze primary sources.  Examples of secondary sources include books and book chapters, newspapers, magazines, trade publications, and journals articles that describe and evaluate original research done by other people.

In business, primary sources provide information about what a company or industry says about itself. Examples include annual reports, financial statements, press releases, interviews, speeches, blog entries or tweets. Secondary sources provide information about what others think about a company or industry. Examples include pre-packaged company, industry or market reports, articles from newspapers, magazines and trade publications.

In the context of marketing research, secondary data sources refer to data sources that have been gathered by someone else for another purpose.

How do these support your analysis?

  • Identify competitors and understand industry dynamics
  • Provide background information on the company and its products/services
  • Provide details on forces in the macro-environment (demographic, economic, socio-cultural, technological, political/legal)
  • Provide data on the market (market size, market share, target markets)
  • Provide real data (i.e. facts and statistics) to as you develop your marketing strategy and other aspects of your marketing plan.

Information sourced from Brock University & Ohio Weslayen University Libraries

Simply Analytics

Use Simply Analytics to get demographic information for a targeted audience. You can search for all kinds of variables including local media retail activity, health status information, and even access PRIZM behavioral marketing data.

This resource can also be used to gather data on businesses in a specific location or within a specific NAICs designation.

Use the Data tab to search for variables and the Business tab to search for businesses. Along the right hand side, look for Comparison or Ranking table for quick outputs. These datasets can be downloaded into Excel.

Mergent Online

Utilize Mergent Online to generate lists of businesses with certain attributes. Conduct an advanced search and select variables like NAICs, financials, or trading information to customize outputs. All information can be exported into Excel.


Use Statista to get quick facts and statistics on thousands of topics. This is a quick data visualization tool, however if you look at where the information is sourced from you will be directed to lots of other reliable sources. It also contains specialized market and industry reports exclusive to Statista.

When viewing a statistic, look to the right under Source link to visit the original author of the stat. These often redirect you to government or trade association data.