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MBAB 5P05: Marketing Management

Comparing Primary & Secondary Sources

Primary SourcesPrimary information sources:

  • what a company (or organization) says about itself and its products/services via: annual reports, presentations, press releases, organizational blogs, tweets, speeches, etc.
  • Note: in the context of  marketing research, primary data sources refers to market research data that is gathered directly from consumers as part of the marketing research process.

Secondary SourcesSecondary information sources:

  • what others say about a company (or organization) and its products/services via: newspaper or magazine articles, books, or other media sources (television or radio transcripts,  social media,etc.), product reviews.
  • Note: 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 sources support your analysis?

  • Provide background information on the company and its products/services
  • Identify competitors and understand industry dynamics
  • 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.

Finding Primary Sources on Companies or Organizations

Most companies will have a web presence, but keep in mind that many will have both a "public" web site (such as an e-commerce site) and a corporate web site (for investors).

What kinds of documents are you after? You want to answer the 5Ws (who, what, where, when, why) so that you can better understand the company / brand / product that you selected for your assignment.

  • Start with the section that says "Our Company" or "About Us".
    • Look for a description of the company's vision, mission, and values.
    • Look for a history of the company, which may include a timeline of key events.
  • Look for a link that says "News" or "For the Media".
    • Look for press releases or official statements (e.g. written documents, audio recordings, podcasts, webcasts, or transcribed speeches, or corporate videos).
    • Note: corporate videos, including TV commercials, may be also archived on YouTube or another type of site.
  • If the company is publicly traded, then it will often post annual reports and financial statements online in a section labeled "Investor Relations" or "For Investors". Canadian public companies annual reports are also available on the SEDAR web site. US company annual reports are available on the SEC's EDGAR web site.
  • You may need to use the company web site's Site Map to find some of this information, which is typically linked at the header or footer of the home page.

Finding Articles on Marketing Topics

You can find articles in newspapers, magazines, or academic journals on Marketing topics by starting in one of our Library Databases. 

  • Academic journal articles report the results of scholarly research on marketing topics.
  • Newspapers and business / trade magazines report on current news and events and are a great source for competitor intelligence, or for learning about new marketing practices. 

Your "Best Bets" for finding articles in scholarly journals are:

Your "Best Bets" for popular newspapers and business magazines are: