Market research is vital for successful marketing. It helps you understand consumer needs, motivations, preferences, market trends, and the competition. Market research also provides valuable insights that allow you to make informed decisions about product development, marketing, and other key business processes.
Large corporations are privileged in the sense that they have the budget for primary market research to get answers to specific questions. Smaller businesses usually don’t enjoy this benefit and need to gather knowledge through other means. Secondary market research is a common and effective alternative to primary research that can deliver remarkable return on investment if done right — making it an essential component in the toolkits of startups and small businesses.
In this article, you will find a curated list of reliable secondary market research sources. To make it more accessible, I have broken the sources down into several categories and added short explanations of what sort of data you will find at each source. Whether you are a small business owner or a marketer, these secondary data sources will provide you with useful insights and help you make informed business decisions.
Data from government agencies is widely available and often free. You can trust these sources because data is handled by impartial and highly skilled professionals. They provide a broad, historical perspective on market trends and economic conditions, making them a valuable resource for informed decision-making.
I recommend using data from governmental agencies when researching macroeconomic factors such as population demographics, consumer spending, employment trends, education enrollment, and welfare — to name a few examples.
#1 U.S. Census Bureau
Data on population, demographics, income, housing, consumer spending, consumer confidence, and retail sales.
#2 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Covers largely the same topics as the U.S. Census Bureau but with emphasis on employment, inflation, pay, and benefits.
#3 UK Office for National Statistics
The largest independent registry of official statistics of the United Kingdom. Data related to the economy, population, society, and the census (in England and Wales).
The EU governmental body of European data and statistics. Here you will find sources covering economy, finance, population, social conditions, industries, trade, environment, science, technology, digital society, quality of life, and more.
#5 European Consumer Centres
Branches of the European Consumer Centre publish annual consumer reports covering the most popular or problematic consumer topics. Each branch is responsible for their own domain, making the source slightly fragmented. By clicking the headline, you will get an overview of the entire European Consumer Centres Network.
#6 Statistics Canada
Canadian data covering a variety of economic and demographic indicators. GDP, inflation, employment and more available for the entire country and its provinces.
#7 National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies
The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) is a place where you can find historical data regarding the French economy and society dating back to the 19th century.
#8 Australian Bureau of Statistics
The Australian counterpart to INSEE, Statistics Canada, and the UK Office for National Statistics
#9 Central Statistics Office
Ireland’s national statistics office. Collects and publishes economic, demographic and societal indicators.
Destatis is the federal statistics office of Germany. Here, you will find a range of indicators about the German economy, population, and society.
International organizations, such as the IMF and World Bank, are another trustworthy source of high-quality data. Like government agencies, international organizations ensure data is handled by impartial professionals and ensure that data meets the strictest standards. Unlike government agencies, data is available on a global scale.
Use international organizations when you need a global perspective, or data is otherwise inaccessible from government agencies.
#11 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Rich source of global statistical information covering international trade, national accounts, energy, industry, and environment in addition to demographic and social statistics.
#12 The World Bank
High-quality, up to date databases encompassing macroeconomic and financial indicators, sector information, debt statistics, and much more.
#13 International Monetary Fund
Raw data and analyses, covering economic indicators, economic trends, and financial stability.
The data portal of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Includes topics such as agriculture, development, economy, education, finance, government, innovation, health, and more.
#15 World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains several databases. They include data on addictive behaviour, alcohol use, brain health, breastfeeding, child health, clinical trials, contraception, emergency care, fertility, obesity, and much more.
#16 International Telecommunications Union
Data and information about the stage of digital development by country including network coverage, mobile phone ownership, internet usage, and broadband subscriptions
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) maintains over 150 indicators and statistical time series that are useful for analysing international trade, economic trends, foreign direct investment, external financial resources, population and labor force, commodities, the information economy and maritime transport. You can access both raw data and reports.
#18 International Energy Agency
The International Energy Agency (IEA) offers a wealth of raw data sets and interactive data explorers. Here you will find statistics regarding emissions, coal usage, renewable energy sources, and other energy-related matters.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) works to reduce poverty and inequality in more than 170 countries. On its website, you can find a number of publications on the topic. Additionally, UNDP operates the Human Development Reports portal where you can access more publications and download raw data.
#20 UNDP Data Futures Platform
Another project operated by UNDP. An aggregator of data across several UN bodies and aims to make data more actionable. You will find insights on topics such as health, social protection, small and medium-sized enterprises, social dialogue, and political engagement.
#22 World Trade Association
The World Trade Association (WTO) operates a statistics portal where you can access time series data covering merchandise trade, market access indicators, and other information.
The data portal for the International Labour Organization (ILO). Here, you will find data covering labor supply, working conditions, poverty, inequality, labor productivity, union membership, and more.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) hosts several databases that cover industrial growth, business structures, and indicators of industrial performance.
#25 WIPO Data Center
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) operates a data portal covering intellectual property activity worldwide.
#26 World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum offers a number of reports available free for download. These include topics such as cybersecurity, data policy, consumption, and mobility. Many of these are geared toward future predictions.
Trade associations are convenient when you need data relevant to a specific industry. These associations tend to commission and publish research on a variety of topics including:
- Market trends: sales trends, growth rates, segments, etc.
- Consumer behavior: spending, attitudes, preferences, etc.
- Competitive landscape: largest players, market shares, etc.
- Technological advancements: emerging technology, technology adoption rates, etc.
Trade associations are generally reliable sources to use in secondary market research, but it’s always best to review the data critically. Plus, data is often available only to members.
#27 Consumer Technology Association
The Consumer Technology Association provides several resources including exclusive research reports and forecasts about artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, robotics, and digital health — to name a few examples. Although, some of these resources are only accessible to members.
#28 National Restaurant Association
Industry association for the restaurant sector in the United States. Provides a range of reports, economic insights, industry statistics, national statistics, and state statistics.
#29 National Retail Federation
The National Retail Federation supplies research and analysis on trends and growth in the US retail sector, including insights about consumer behavior, retail sales, and economic trends.
#30 National Association of Realtors
A domestic association covering the US. Provides housing statistics and real estate market trends.
#31 National Automobile Dealers Association
Another US industry association with a wealth of data. Here you will find monthly, semi-annual, and annual reports on dealership sales, financial trends, and more.
The International Air Transport Association (AITA) represents 83% of the worlds air traffic and publishes various reports and annual reviews.
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) maintains a comprehensive resource library that includes fact sheets, reports, polls and more about research and development within the industry, clinical trials, and pharmaceutical sales.
A European trade association for the automotive industry that provides data on vehicle production, sales, and trade. Accessible as reports and fact sheets.
#35 Institute of Practitioners in Advertising
The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) provides a host of data and insights on its website — both free and paid. You can access cost of living resources for the UK plus all sorts of publications, guides, reports, articles and research on all aspects of advertising.
#36 The Advertising Association
Another UK-based association for the ad industry. The Advertising Association publishes an annual and quarterly report on advertising expenditure for all major media in the UK. These reports require a subscription.
BSA, also known as The Software Alliance, is a prominent voice in the global software industry. The association aims to promote legal software use and advocates for public policies that foster technology innovation and drive growth in the digital economy. It publishes regular reports, which some give access to quality raw data.
#38 Entertainment Software Association
Also known as ESA. Maintains a comprehensive news and resources section including annual reports, white papers, fact sheets, academic research, and independent research about all matters related to the US video game industry.
#39 American Pet Products Association
On APPA’s website, you will find a tab labeled “Market Research” that includes the national pet owners survey and its data, the Generational report, and other surveys. You will also find useful resources in other sections of the site such as the pet industry’s market size, trends and ownership statistics.
#40 World Pet Association
The World Pet Association (WPA) curates trending news from within the industry in addition to surveys and other publications.
#41 The Toy Association
The Toy Association maintains a section for the latest research and data relevant to the global toy industry. Here, you will find both free and paid resources for your secondary market research.
#42 Sports & Fitness Industry Association
SFIA, in tandem with Sports Marketing USA, publishes over 100 industry reports every year. You will find a couple of free reports, but many of them are paid.
#43 National Coffee Association USA
Semi-annual consumption data and longitudinal surveys. Topics include market sizing, national trends, consumer insights, competitive retail, and more.
#44 American Gaming Association
The American Gaming Association represents the regulated gaming industry. Its members include casinos and sports betting sites. The association provides a wealth of research and insights, covering topics like consumer polls, sports betting, gaming regulations, and more.
Market research firms & consultancies
Market research and consultancy firms come in handy when you need meaningful insights. These firms conduct their own research and have access to an immense amount of valuable data that they turn into knowledge in the form of reports, whitepapers, and webinars — to name a few examples.
These are valid secondary market research sources, especially when you need to grasp large ideas quickly. But you should always pay attention to what the firm is selling and critically evaluate the methodology of the research you source.
Nielsen one of the world’s most renowned measurement, data and analytics agency. Their data is generally known for being reliable and comprehensive. Nielsen covers topics relevant to marketing and product development.
Gartner is another world-renowned agency. It helps helps business leaders take informed decisions by providing insights and various tools. You will find information on topics such as IT strategy, digital transformation, marketing, and much more.
Forrester is a research and advisory firm that provides insights and analysis on a range of industries, including technology, retail, and healthcare. Their reports are known for their in-depth analysis and strategic insights.
IBISWorld is a market research firm that provides insights into various sectors. Here you will find a wide assortment of expert opinions, reports, blog post and comprehensive industry statistics and trends.
Kantar conducts extensive research using panels, shopper data and social media insights on topics such as consumer preferences and buyer behavior. The company regularly shares these to the public in the forms of blog post, webinars and other resources.
#50 Lumen Research
Lumen is one of my personal favorites. It focuses fully on attention and its importance for media performance. In its resources section, you will find blog posts and white papers about how consumers interact with advertisements.
Thinkbox is another company focused on a specific niche: TV. It conducts and publishes research and case studies that helps UK-based advertisers get the most out of TV placements.
ThinkPremiumDigital provides insights and statistics that helps businesses make informed digital media decisions. Their content is mostly Australia-focused.
Mintel is a market intelligence agency that offers a lot of quality consumer data. In their resources section, you will find dozens of articles, PDFs and podcasts covering advertising, financial services, food and drink, beauty, cost of living, and much more.
System1 analyses and rates the effectiveness of advertisement creatives. They have a weekly “Ad Of The Week” where it breaks down a high quality ad creative and tells you exactly why it’s good. You will also find various articles and podcast episodes aimed at brand building.
GWI is another personal favorite. It offers a free interactive platform where you can segment an audience in the UK and the US. On top of that they have a huge amount of articles, reports, case studies and webinars covering all aspects of consumer behavior.
A global market research firm that specializes in insights and analysis across a range of industries, including healthcare, automotive, and technology. Their research covers topics such as customer experience, branding, and innovation. Much of it is accessible via blog posts, reports and podcasts on their site.
Independent databases for raw data
Online databases are a good source of secondary market research. They are particularly convenient when you need specific data on market trends, consumer behavior, and competitive landscape. However, databases do vary in quality. Some databases contain outdated data while others crowdsource their datasets. In these cases, it’s you to determine the quality yourself and decide if this is data you can trust.
Kaggle is an online community where users upload datasets covering a variety of topics. This is a good place to look when you need very specific data. Here, you will find data such as most streamed songs on Spotify of all time, AirBnB prices in various regions, consumer shopping datasets, CO2 emissions, and much more.
#58 World Values Survey
The World Values Survey is a large-scale cross-national research program. It contains surveys that are statistically representative of roughly 100 countries of all shapes and sizes. You can download data from the most recent collection or a time series dating back to 1981. The data cover topics such as economic development, democratization, religion, gender equality, social capital, and well-being.
#59 UCI Machine Learning Repository
The University of California at Irvine hosts a comprehensive database of raw data covering a range of topics. Though this is intended for machine learning projects, it’s still a good source to find information on topics like life sciences, business, health, and society at large.
#60 Open Data Network
The Open Data Network has a wealth of data served through a very convenient interface. Data categories include finance, public safety, environment, transportation, social services, and recreation.
#61 Google Dataset Search
Google for datasets. You can search by whatever topic you need information about. Very useful if you know exactly what you’re looking for.
#62 Data Hub
Works in a similar for as Google Dataset Search. Has data ranging from stock market to population to cryptocurrency prices. Standard usage is free but it also has a premium version.
Academic articles are excellent secondary sources market research sources. They provide an in-depth investigation of well-defined topics. They also cite previous relevant work, supplying you with additional data points to enrich your research. Peer-reviewing is a key component of the publishing process, ensuring that articles are both reliable and valid outside laboratory settings.
However, you shouldn’t take that at face value. There are many low-quality journals with poor peer-review policies. I’d suggest sticking to the top journals in their field. Moreover, academic articles can be inaccessible and tend to use technical language that’s difficult to understand. Likewise, some authors tend to exaggerate their findings in their interpretations, making familiarity with statistics and market research methods required to objectively evaluate the findings.
#63 Google Scholar
Google for academic work and books. It often shows you multiple versions of the same research which can often help you find a free PDF faster.
#64 The Lens
Alternative to Google Scholar. Allows you to filter your search by more variables without requiring knowledge of how to do advanced search in search bars.
Another search engine operated by Bielefeld University Library. You can access the full texts of about 60% of all indexed documents for free. Useful if you are hitting too many paywalls with the above options.
#66 Journal of Marketing
One of the most respected marketing journals out there. Usually offer one or two paper per volume available to all for free.
#67 Marketing Science
Marketing Science is another reliable marketing journal. It focuses on quantitative and empirical evidence within topics such as advertising, buyer behavior, segmentation, and pricing.
#68 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Covers attitudes, social cognition, interpersonal relations, group processes, personality processes, and individual differences. Has a sizable list of sample articles available for free.
#69 Journal of Consumer Psychology
The Journal of Consumer Psychology publishes articles covering decision making, consumer needs, attitudes, consumption experiences, cultural and individual differences, information processing, and motivations of consumer behavior. It favors original quantitative work.