Desk research

Desk research is a method that is used in market research and with the help of which market information is obtained. For this purpose, already existing data, e.g. acquired through primary research, are evaluated.

Definition / explanation

In desk research, data (which has already been collected in various ways) is obtained, processed and then interpreted. As a rule, only the results, for example from telephone interviews, group discussions or online surveys, are available. Access to the raw data is usually not possible.

The demarcation to Primary research is mainly due to the fact that the data to be evaluated were not collected for this specific purpose.

Sources of information for desk research

The desk research can access internal or external information. Internal information can be obtained through cost accounting, the listing of orders and complaints, turnover and sales statistics and the offers made.

External sources of information include, for example, specialist books, dissertations, publications, websites of companies or partner companies, information from government institutions, press articles and others.

Reasons and procedures

The reasons for the desk research process can be the formation or confirmation of existing hypotheses or the clarification of a necessary primary research need. It can also be used to broaden an existing problem horizon.

Various methods are available to carry out desk research:

  • Mind maps - visual representation of a specific topic
  • Content analysis - analysis of interviews or other data
  • Data analysis - statistical method for evaluating numerical data

advantages and disadvantages

advantages - A great advantage of desk research is the rapid gathering of information. There is no need to conduct interviews or other procurement measures that would lead to a longer waiting time. In addition, the costs for such a method are quite cheap and the effort that must be made for the evaluation is limited.

disadvantage - The data is available to all competitors, so gaining a market advantage is rather difficult. In addition, the material is often outdated very quickly and more recent data must be used. In addition, it is difficult to identify mistakes made in the survey. This can lead to incorrect results in the interpretation.


  • Desk research is used to obtain market information
  • Data is already available and does not have to be obtained
  • quick results at low cost
  • However, data can be out of date
  • Sources of information can be internal or external to the company
  • Reasons: confirm existing hypotheses, clarify a need for primary research
  • Process: mind maps, content analysis and data analysis
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