Secondary Data: Advantages, Disadvantages, Sources, Types

If you are aware of the pros and cons of secondary data, you can make informed decisions and develop forward-looking strategies.

Whether you work in business, marketing, research or statistics, secondary data sources can help you optimize your current and future results.

Well, let’s see how

On this side:

  • What are secondary data? Definition, meaning, importance
  • Advantages and disadvantages of secondary data (comparative table)
  • Examples, types and sources of secondary data.
  • Infographics in PDF format

What is secondary data? Definition and meaning.

Secondary data is data that has already been collected for another purpose, but that is important for your current research needs.

In other words, it was collected in the past by someone else, not you. And now you can use the data.

Secondary data is information that is used. It’s not the first time it’s been used. That’s why they call it subordinate.

In general, secondary data can be found in sources such as the Internet, libraries or reports.

The most popular examples of secondary data are web-based information, annual reports, media products, encyclopaedias and government statistics.

Pros and cons of secondary data

Download the above infographics in PDF format for free.

Let’s move on to computer graphics.

Advantages of secondary data :

  • Easy Access
    Secondary data sources are easily accessible. The Internet has changed the way secondary research is conducted. Today, you have access to so much information with one click of the mouse.
  • Cheap or free
    Most secondary sources are absolutely free or can be used at a very low price. This will save you not only your money, but also your efforts. Unlike primary research, where the entire primary research process must be designed and carried out from the outset, secondary research makes it possible to collect data without the need for investment. (For more details, see our primary and secondary data page).
  • Time saving
    As shown in the advantage above, you can perform secondary searches in a very short time. Multiple Google searches may be required to find the source of the data.
  • Let me take some new ideas from the previous
    analysis. Re-analysis of old data can provide new insights and unexpected perspectives, or even important new conclusions.
  • Longitudinal analysis
    Secondary data allow longitudinal analysis, i.e. studies over a long period of time. This can help you identify different trends. You can also find secondary data much older than a few hours ago. This allows the data to be compared over time.
  • Anyone can collect data
    Research on secondary data can be done by people who are not familiar with the different methods of data collection. Almost everyone can handle it.
  • Enormous amount of secondary data with a variety of sources
    This is the richest type of data available from a variety of sources and subjects.

The holes:

  • Secondary data
    may not be specific to the needs of the researcher because they were collected in the past for another reason. Therefore, secondary data may not be reliable for your current needs. Secondary data sources can provide you with an enormous amount of information, but quantity does not always mean relevance.
  • You cannot check the data quality of
    . Additional data may be of poor quality. The source of the information may be questionable, especially when the data is collected via the Internet. Because you rely on secondary data to make data-driven decisions, you need to assess the reliability of the information by looking at how it has been collected and analyzed.
  • Bias Because secondary data is collected by someone other than you, the data is usually biased towards the person who collected it. This may not meet your requirements as a researcher or marketer.
  • At the end of
    , secondary data are collected in the past, which means that they may be obsolete. This can be crucial in various situations.
  • You do not have the information
    . In general, secondary data is not collected specifically for your company. Instead, it is available to many companies and individuals free of charge or for a small fee. So it’s not exactly a competitive advantage for you. Your current and potential competitors also have access to this data.

Secondary data types

Types of secondary data - computer graphics

There are two types of secondary data, depending on the source of the data:

  • Internal data sources : Information collected by the company or researcher’s organization (examples: customer database, sales reports, marketing analysis, your email, social media profiles, etc.).
  • External data sources : Data collected outside the organisation (i.e. government statistics, media channels, newspapers, etc.).

In addition, there may be two types of secondary data, depending on the research area:

  • Quantitative data – data which can be expressed as a number or quantified. These include, for example, the weight and height of a person, the number of hours worked, the volume of sales per month, etc., as well as the weight and length of a person. Quantitative data can easily be manipulated statistically.
  • Qualitative data – information that cannot be expressed in numbers and cannot be measured. Qualitative data are words, drawings, observations and symbols, not numbers. We’re talking about qualities. Examples are the colour of the eyes (brown, blue, green), socio-economic status, customer satisfaction, etc.

Dive deeper into the subject with our contributions:

Examples and secondary data sources

Internal secondary data sources

Examples of internal secondary data sources - infographics

Your company or organization may have a lot of data that you do not use.

All types of organisations, both commercial and non-commercial, collect information in their daily processes. Orders are carried out, costs and sales are recorded, customer requests for products are submitted, reports are presented, etc.

Most of this information is very useful for your research. They can have a hidden and unexpected value for you.

Here is a list of some privileged, common and hidden sources of information:

1. Sales figures

Sales are important for a company’s profitability.

Sales data include, for example, sales, profitability, price, distribution channels, customers, and so on. This information can tell you the strengths and weaknesses that will determine your future decisions.

2. Financial data

Collecting and analyzing your financial data is a way to maximize your profits. Overhead and production costs, financing tables, amounts spent on production, etc. are examples of financial data.

3. General marketing information

Marketing departments are a goldmine of secondary data sources.

Examples of marketing data are reports on customer profiles, market segmentation, customer satisfaction, brand awareness, customer loyalty through content marketing, customer retention and loyalty, etc.

4. Personnel data

Personnel services have information on recruitment and training costs, retention and turnover rates, individual productivity, etc. This information is available to the staff departments.

HR data can help you discover where an organisation needs to improve its HR processes in order to strengthen the skills of its employees and develop their talents and performance.

5. Customer relationship management system (CRM software)

Companies can also collect and analyse data in their own relationship management systems.

This system is an excellent source of secondary data, such as information on customer companies, regional or geographical details for customers, etc.

6. Electronic mail

The average office worker sends dozens of commercial messages a day and receives even more.

E-mail, as a secondary data source, provides important information such as product reviews, opinions, comments, etc.

7. Your social media profiles

Profiles on social networks such as Facebook, Tweeter, Linkedin are an excellent source of information that can be analysed to find out more about the best results. B. We talk about your business and how users share and interact with your content.

Some examples of secondary data you can collect from social profiles Preferences, actions, mentions, impressions, new followers, comments, clicks on URLs.

8. Analysis of your website

An enormous amount of valuable secondary data is available to you through the analytical platform of your website.

The most popular platform to study the statistics of your website is Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

Examples of information you collect on your website Visitor location, visitor behavior patterns, keywords used by visitors to search for your site and your business, visitor activity on the site, most popular content, and so on.

External secondary data sources

Examples of external secondary data sources - brief infographics

External data are all data generated outside the company or organization.

The use of external secondary data sources, especially online, has many advantages. They offer an infinite amount of information that you can obtain efficiently and quickly.

Today, external secondary data form the basis for management decisions, whether in business, medicine, science or statistics.

Here are some important examples of external secondary data.

1. offers more than 150,000 free datasets available from federal, state and local governments.  They are free and available online.

Companies or students can find a wealth of data here, including information about consumers, education, production, public safety, etc.

2. Public data from the World Bank

The World Bank’s public data provide free and open access to global development data. The datasets can be used to obtain demographic data on the population and a wide range of economic indicators around the world.

3. Economic data IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organisation of 189 countries.

It contains data such as international financial statistics, regional economic reports, exchange rates, debt levels, commodity prices and investments.

4. Free small pencil

Intel Free Pencil is one of the best free competitor analysis tools that can help you track, analyze, and exchange many things that happen outside of your business.

5. Free social search at Talkwalker

Talkwalker’s free social search is a real-time social network search engine that allows you to perform unlimited searches on all major social networks.

You can find out in seconds what the Internet is saying about you or your competitors. Maybe you know who’s talking about you in front of a live audience.

6. Flux

Feedly is a free news gathering website where you can stay up to date on all the topics that are important to you. All in one place.

With Feedly you can easily follow news about your products, competitors, important news, content, tweets and even videos on YouTube.

7. Postcards

Mailcharts are a very powerful tool for email marketers and for those who want to spy on their competitors.

It collects emails from competitive campaigns to help you develop your own campaigns. Mailharts has a huge library of letters from numerous brands.

8. Glass door

Glassdoor is one of the world’s largest and most popular employment and recruitment sites. It offers a free database of millions of business reviews, approved CEO reviews, evaluations and interview questions, salary reports, performance reviews, office photos and more.

9. Google Alerts

Google Alerts is one of the most popular free notification services that allows you to track the mentions of almost anything on the web – about the company, brand, customers, purchase history, and more.

10. HubSpot Marketing Statistics

HubSpot offers extensive and very valuable free storage space for business data.

You will find the latest marketing statistics and trends in areas such as organic search, CRO, Ecomerce, local search, mobile search and others.

11. Crunchbase

Crunchbase is one of the best and most innovative platforms for finding business information about private and public companies.

The data in this restricted database contain information on investments and financing, sector news and trends, executives, mergers and acquisitions, etc.


For many companies, secondary data sources are an important way to gather information about their customers for better understanding and service.

We live in a time of great data. Knowledge of the pros and cons of secondary data can lead to better decision making at all levels and for all types of management.

It is a good basis for creating new opportunities, conducting data-driven marketing and improving results and performance.

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