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Limitations Of Market Research


Effective marketing requires market research so you can find out about people's wants and needs, develop products and select your target market. To maximise research value, researchers need to be aware of market research limitations and ensure they conduct research carefully.

The diagram below lists the limitations of primary research and the limitations of secondary research

Market Research Limitations

General Market Research Limitations

Primary Market Research Limitations

Primary research is research collected directly from the research subject during activities such as observations, focus groups and interviews. Primary research limitations include:

  1. The quality of research is determined by the people you talk to. Consumer opinion is affected by a range of things including age, experience, background, income, status, social class and ability.
  2. People's needs, wants and opinions differ from each other. As you can't talk to everybody, it's important to carefully select (sample) the people you would like to interview
  3. Quality of research could be limited by the resources available i.e. time and budget. If you do not have enough money or time your research sample will be small. A small research sample is unlikely to reflect the views held in the market place as a whole or the market segment you've selected to target
  4. The results of market research may be affected by the partiality of the researcher or interviewer. Researchers should do their utmost to phrase questions without bias and suppositions. Interviewers should ensure that they do not lead interviewees into providing a particular answers)

Secondary Market Research Limitations

Secondary research is research that has been conducted by someone else (third party) and is usually published so that it is easily accessible. The limitations of secondary research include:

  1. It can be difficult to verify the accuracy of research conducted by a third party
  2. It is unlikely that the objectives of secondary research will fully match your research objectives
  3. Secondary research results may be affected by the assumptions and motivations of the organisation which carried it out or funded the research
  4. By its nature, secondary research was conducted in the past so it may no longer be fully relevant


Market research is an essential part of the marketing process but as we have discussed its value can be diminished by a number of factors. Researchers need to be aware of these factors throughout the research process including when they design research, select researchers and carry out research.


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