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Criteria for Evaluating Secondary Data

Part 2. Marketing Research

  1. Frank J. Mulhern

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444316568.wiem02034

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

How to Cite

Mulhern, F. J. 2010. Criteria for Evaluating Secondary Data. Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing. 2.

Author Information

  1. Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


Secondary data are market research data collected for a purpose other than the one on hand. The data have the advantage of being much less expensive and more quickly available than primary data. However, because secondary data are collected for a different purpose, one must carefully evaluate their appropriateness for a given market research situation. Secondary data should be evaluated with respect to several important criteria. The data should be accurate, that is, without errors. The data should be relevant to the particular research need on hand. Relevance is a function of the level of aggregation of the data, as well as the units and time increments in which the data are reported. The data should also come in a format that can be utilized easily. In addition, secondary data should not be out of date. Consideration should also be given to the format of the data and any restrictions on their use. When secondary data are evaluated carefully with these criteria, they can be an excellent source of inexpensive yet valuable information.


  • secondary data;
  • data collection;
  • customer databases;
  • time series;
  • validity