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The Ultimate Guide to Lean Desk Research

In Brief

Desk Research is an ultimate tool among the Lean Market Research Toolbox. It simply stands for conducting research using the most available resources like the internet, books and magazines. Hence, its name is very self explanatory in this framework. This post is about The Ultimate Guide to Lean Desk Research. This explains the Why and How about how to make it.

Why Desk Research

It’s time now to dig a little deeper into some main components of lean market research.

For that purpose let’s start by Desk research.

Desk research stands for gathering data and facts using already existing data through the internet, books, magazines etc.

Desk research belongs to secondary research.

It’s conducted from the researcher’s desk without needing generating new data nor leaving his desk.

Desk research is used mainly at the early stages of the study.

It intervenes mainly in Step2 (DIrect) and the start of Step3 (Deepen).

It aims at gathering at low costs and short times a first intuition about the conducted study.

Desk research is used for directing the research upcoming needs and steps.

It’s also used for making decision regarding how primary data will be collected:

  • What experts to interview
  • What questions to ask
  • What topics should be unveiled in depth
  • Where public data is missing

Resources for Desk Research

Typical resources for desk research are: Search engines, online encyclopedia, Open data sources and governmental portals.

It can also be Classic media eg Blogs, magazines, newspapers, Corporate web sites, as well as Official annual reports of organizations to name a few.

Desk research also includes

  • Available public and private data.
  • Data of the market research sponsor especially customer DB.
  • Industry experts.

Consequently, desk research is the low hanging fruits part of the conducted research.

On the other hand, even if the majority of this data is relatively easy to access to and very often completely open and free, the researcher should pay attention to its quality.

Indeed, the quality of the used data has a direct impact on the quality and credibility of the conducted research, hence it’s very important to pay attention to it.

The other pitfall when dealing with desk research is efficiency.

Indeed, there are literally billions of terabytes of data on the internet and the researcher should be focused on what is relevant for his research.

This aims at keeping the costs as planned initially without being lost among an ocean of infinite information.

Desk research also includes:

  • Internet or online research
  • Online market reports
  • Press contents

Company & government data belong as well to desk research.

Examples of government and corporate data are:

  • US security and exchange commission sec:
  • UK companies data hub :

Additional governments data examples are:


Just to name a few.

There is a whole module dedicated to lean market research toolbox.

In that module, numerous tools and online solutions for conducting efficient lean market research.

Feel free for consulting the “Lean market research toolbox” for a deeper dive into it.

Come then Trade and industry bodies.

For instance the CAAM website.

Finally, online directories and lists are a rich source for desk research.

For instance one can site in this framework:

Pros tips about Desk Research

Here are some pros tips when it comes to conducting desk research:

Use desk research to look whether info is already available or not, familiarize with a dozen websites giving already good content,  define good resources for finding intelligence on companies.

Note always the sources of info and assess their reliability as much as possible.

On the other hand, The limits of desk research:

  • Generally used as first approach then completed by primary research.
  • Unpredictable.
  • Some info is not available especially experience of customers, their feeling etc.

This conludes The Ultimate Guide to Lean Desk Research.


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