Much of the data that a company new to marketing research might want to know is probably already in existence; for example, overall market size and structure, basic information about consumer spending patterns, major social and economic trends, financial data about customer firms, competitor firms, supplier firms, markets that are growing and profitable, and markets that are in decline or unprofitable. The purpose of this chapter is to give some indication of the vast amount of 'off-the-peg' data available and an idea about where to locate the appropriate 'pegs'. Once an organization has identified relevant data sources, it will often continue to obtain updating information and, as discussed in the last chapter, this forms an important part of the organization's information system.

There are four main types of 'off-the-peg' research:

■ research using the very large body of already published data, usually termed 'secondary desk research'

■ research using data available from regular market surveys, often referred to as 'syndicated research'

■ research in which the method of data collection is syndicated, but the data is not, called 'omnibus research'

■ research making use of specialist expertise available from research agencies, discussed under the heading 'specialist research services'.

This chapter considers each type of research in turn. Inevitably, some of the specific information sources and contact data given in this chapter will become outdated. Nevertheless, the general points made and major sources indicated will prove of value as a guide to off-the-peg research for some years beyond the date of publication.

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