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MGSB22 Entrepreneurship / MGSD24 New Venture Creation & Planning

Winter 2024

Primary vs. secondary market research

Market research for startups

Startups MUST do both primary and secondary research about their market.

Secondary research can help your team to:

  • identify, size and rank potential markets
  • provides additional insight into markets validated by primary research
  • identify, size and rank potential customers
  • become knowledgeable about the market or industry in which you operate
  • inform and enrich interactions with prospective customers, partners or investors
  • identify competitors

Secondary research tends to (or tries to) answer the 'how' questions, e.g.:

  • How “big” is the (market) opportunity?
  • How many competitors are there in this market?
  • How much do my customers currently spend on competitor products or services?
  • How often do my customers acquire or use a product or service
  • What are the trends in this market?

Primary research can help your team to:

  • confirm or invalidate markets identified through secondary research
  • identify new markets to research
  • inform product development
  • identify competitors
  • prove product-market fit!

Primary research helps to answer the 'big' questions, e.g.

  • Do people want our product? What problem or need does it address?
  • What will people pay for our product?  What do they pay for competitor products?
  • What do my customers like or dislike about our product? our competitor products?
  • How do people want to buy our product?
  • Who is an influencer in the buying process?  Who is the decision-maker?
  • Is this venture worth pursuing? Do we need to pivot?

Originally developed by Carey Toane and Helen Kula in the INF2325 guide.

Market Segmentation


  • Divide market into location, regions, countries, cities


  • Divide market into principles such as lifestyle, values, social class


  • B2C: divide market into groups based on age, gender, ethnicity, income, health status
  • B2B: company size, industry, role, time working for company


  • Divide considering the following attributes: usage, awareness, attitudes, liking, purchasing patterns

Primary Research Strategies