There are two main types of market research; Primary Research or Secondary Research. These are simple to distinguish between.
Primary Research is where you gather information that does not already exist. This may be used because the information required does not already exist, does not match the exact requirements of a research need, or the information needs updating. Conducting primary research allows you greater control over the final results, as well as the timescale, the size and the location of the research.
Secondary Research, or as it is commonly referred to Desk Research, is the compilation and analysis of data and research that already exists, be it from internal or external sources. This can include information from existing reports, publications, industry surveys, Government studies, libraries and other published documentation. Whilst the information cannot normally be customised to a new research brief, it can provide valuable general information on areas such as industry profiles, trends, and of course demographics. Frequently this is a useful place to start a research project; enabling you to understand what information or knowledge already exists on the subject you are interested in and allowing you to then build upon this knowledge with primary research.