The Importance of Primary Research in IMC

By: Virginia Parker

Thinking back to classes early in college or even before, in grade school, the types of research, primary and secondary, and their importance in our education have been drilled into our heads. We know what they are and depending on where we are in our college career, we have conducted our own primary research and certainly done plenty of secondary research. In this discussion, I will be revealing results from a study and how their results are significant to the study of IMC and us as Communication Studies majors, potentially going into IMC.

Is knowledge power?

The accessibility of health and wellness information has reached all-time highs with the present-day marketing of wellness-related products, services, and ideas promoting healthier lifestyles in a broad spectrum of Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) campaigns across multiple platforms and channels (Costanzo, Costanzo, 2019, pp. 43). However, approximately 29.6% of the adult population self-identified as obese in 2017 (Costanzo, Costanzo, 2019, pp. 43). This is a 17.6% increase since 1990 (Costanzo, Costanzo, 2019, pp. 43).

Paul J. Costanzo and Cynthia P. Costanzo (2019) conducted a study to address two questions that are challenging health care professionals: 1) With the current accessibility of health and wellness information, why are Americans not becoming healthier? 2) What can be done to promote healthier lifestyle choices for the average American? (pp. 43)

Preliminary Research of their study

In 2005, the US food industry was criticized for its role in escalating childhood obesity, and advertisers announced new programming policies aimed at reducing children’s exposure to unhealthy food and beverages, however, these policy changes were ineffective in reducing obesity because of the insignificant differences between television programming and advertising content (Costanzo & Costanzo, 2019, pp. 43). There has not been a cause-and-effect relationship established between watching television and obesity (Costanzo, Costanzo, 2019, pp. 43).                Unhealthy eating patterns are trends fueled by promotional campaigns of fast-food restaurants and the absence of empirical evidence on how consumers perceive and value health information, according to the authors (Costanzo, Costanzo, 2019, pp. 45). The concern of the consumption of unhealthy foods has been recognized by several local, regional, and national health promotion campaigns, as well as politicians, government agencies, and public health officials, and that has resulted in obesity being identified as a human epidemic (Costanzo, Costanzo, 2019, pp. 45).

Recent research has also demonstrated that consumers of health care information (HCI) may prefer certain types of preventative HCI (Costanzo, Costanzo, 2019, pp. 45). Costanzo and Costanzo found that users do not rely on all sources of Internet information equally and Facebook and Twitter were the least popular sources for Preventative Health Care Information (PHCI) (2019, pp. 45)

Method and Hypothesis of their study

Their study examined seven market dominated (magazine advertisements, television advertisements, books, newspapers, radio, internet, and direct mail) and three non-market dominated sources (health care provider, friends, and family members) and specifically focused on gender differences (Costanzo, Costanzo, 2019, pp. 43). They also reported gender differences in subjects’ knowledge and importance ratings of childhood obesity, healthy nutrition, and regular exercise (Costanzo, Costanzo, 2019, pp. 43). The authors hypothesize that enhanced knowledge of how consumers respond to marketer/non-marketer-dominated sources of health and wellness information is critical to the creation and implementation of effective sustainable promotional strategies and tactics (Costanzo, Costanzo, 2019, pp. 43).

Their Results

The significant findings from the study conducted by P.J. Costanzo and C.P. Costanzo (2019) reveal that females’ usage for three marketer-dominated sources (magazines, books, and newspapers) were significantly higher than males (pp. 48). Women also used three non-marketer sources, health care providers (pediatrician, nurse practitioner), friends, and family members significantly more than did men (Costanzo, Costanzo, 2019, pp. 48). Women’s ratings of the importance of childhood obesity, healthy nutrition, and regular exercise were significantly higher than men’s ratings (Costanzo, Costanzo, 2019, pp. 48).

Relevance to the Practice of IMC

The purpose of their study is to explore how men and women view Preventative Health Care messages differently (Costanzo, Costanzo, 2019, pp. 48). While their study explores both market-dominated and non-market-dominated sources, their study highlights the importance of research in IMC and illustrates the importance of the research process in the general practice of IMC in evaluating the effectiveness of campaigns and in providing an understanding or explanation of the campaign.

The importance of primary research is that it generates new knowledge and secondary research applies that new knowledge (Bartsiokas & Smith, 2019). In IMC, the research process gives a brand or company a better picture of what your buyers need, and how you can better address unique challenges (Marketing Eye Atlanta, 2021); In this case, where the buyer is an American that consumes PHCI and their view on those messages, and the unique challenges involve whether the consumer “buys” into the message or information.

The results of this study are relevant to the practice of IMC specifically for health care marketing professionals and future wellness IMC campaigns as secondary research (Costanzo, Costanzo, 2019, pp. 49). The authors believe “significant steps are achievable with a concerted effort of those actively engaged in research on how consumers respond to PHCI and the sustainable promotional strategy and tactics that lead to healthy lifestyle choices for a better future” for the United States (Costanzo, Costanzo, 2019, pp. 49). They also believe “More knowledge about which sources of HCI are rated higher by gender may be a step in the right direction” and “Knowledge about gender differences of health and wellness topics is another area that the authors believe will lead to the adoption of healthier lifelong learning” (Costanzo, Costanzo, 2019, pp. 44).

To me, their research implies, for the practice of IMC, the possibility of infinite unknowns, in regard to audience responses to campaigns. Primary research allows professionals and companies to determine an explanation as to why a failure (or success) has occurred or is occurring and allows them to assess for future action. Given their results, and as students potentially going into IMC, it is important to keep in mind the possibility of explanation through primary research. Can you recall a time in which you conducted primary research and had significant results? Were they the results you expected? While research takes time and patience, it can provide key information to expand knowledge or understanding of your target audience, the company of your future job, or even your future business.


Bartsiokas, T., & Jordan S., (2019). “Communication @ Work.” Senca,

Costanzo, P. & Costanzo, C., (2019). Gender differences in marketer and non-marketer-   dominated sources of sustainable health and wellness information. Journal of Global          Scholars of Marketing Science, [online] 29(1), pp.42-50. Available at: <https://web-b-    &nbsp;      498d-8518-9ac315bf2886%40sessionmgr103>.

Marketing Eye Atlanta. (2021). “The Importance of Conducting Market Research – Marketing     Eye Atlanta.” Marketing Eye Atlanta – Branding, Web & PR Consulting Agency,          Marketing Eye Atlanta, 8 Feb. 2021, importance-of-conducting-market-research.html.