The availability and quality of data is mainly dependent on the source of data. The various sources of data can be broadly classified as:
- Primary sources
- Secondary sources
1. Primary Sources: Information, which has been gathered for the first time, is called primary data. Here, the sources, expected to have the desired information, are contacted by various methods to collect data. The reputation and experience of the organization collecting the data is often the best guide to the accuracy of the data.
The source from which the information is gathered for the first time is known as primary source and the information thus generated is called primary data. Primary data is originated with the specific research undertaking e.g., if a research firm was hired to obtain consumer attitude data on a new package design, this would be primary data, since it originated with the particular study. The origin of data, arid not who gathered it, is the factor that distinguishes secondary data from primary data.
Primary data can be generated by questioning people or by observing selected activities. But in marketing research, a third method viz., experimentation is also included.
In survey methods the data are collected by asking questions from respondents thought to have the desired information. This is done by personal interviews, telephone interviews or mail questionnaires. In observational approach, the researcher observes the respondents either by mechanical devices or by some individuals.
In experimental procedures then researcher introduces selected stimuli into a controlled environment and then manipulates these stimuli.
2. Secondary Sources: The search for information should begin among secondary sources and only when such sources have exhausted, should primary data be sought. These are the sources where the data are developed for some purpose other than the problem at hand but are applicable to the present investigation. The primary data in one research may take the form of secondary data if used in another research. These already exist but have not been collected for that specific purpose.