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Marketing Research Guide: Demographic and Psychographic Research

This guide is intended to help you successfully complete marketing research projects in BADM 370, BADM 476 and other courses by providing specific paths to the kinds of information you will need to complete course assignments.

I. Introduction to demographic and psychographic research

Demographic vs. Psychographic research

 

DEMOGRAPHIC RESEARCH

The purpose is to find your product's best and biggest customers based on demographic variables such as gender, income, age, etc.
 

PSYCHOGRAPHIC RESEARCH

The purpose is to learn about attitudes and behaviors of customers that might affect their spending on your product.


Use the following sections to find research tools for demographic and psychographic research:

1. What is your target market in terms of demographic variables? 

Find primary customers for a product based on demographic characteristics such as age group, gender, education, income, household type)

2. What is your target market in terms of psychographic characteristics?

Find articles on consumer attitudes and consumer behavior that reveal who will purchase your product based on their mind-set, attitudes, personality, activities, behaviors.

3. What is the size of the market for your product in a specific city (outside of South Dakota)?

Find a likely city and the size of its market for a product or product category.

 

II. Demographics - Find primary customers for a product or product category

Demographic research

 

Begin with Best Customers: Demographics of Consumer Demand.

Then explore other sources listed below such as Consumer Expenditure Survey.   

 If you don't find your product in Best Customers, another method for discovering the target market for a product is to search for magazine/journal articles about the market or customers for a product. See section III on this page to find databases to use. To search, combine the product type or product category with the word "marketing" or the word "consumers"  For example, search for: "bubble gum" and marketing

A. Best Customers: Demographics of Consumer Demand. Ithaca, NY: New Strategist Publications, Inc.

1. Access ONLINE: in Gale Virtual Reference Library, 9th ed., 2012: Best Customers
     Access IN PRINT: in Library with call number REFERENCE HC110.C6 B47

2. Description: This is an e-book. Arranged by product category, this source provides demographic information on the "best customers" and the "biggest customers" of each product. Analyzes household spending on numerous products and services by age, income, household type, race and Hispanic origin, region of residence, and educational attainment of householder. Identifies which households spend the most on a product or service (the best customers) and which control the largest share of spending (the biggest customers).

3. How to use: To find your product category in the book, a) browse the "Table of Contents", b) use the "search within" feature on the left side of the page to search the book, and/or c) use the book's index to look up your product.

B. The following are "Best Customers" e-books focused on specific categories of spending. For example, Who's Buying for Travel identifies "best customers" and "biggest customers" for products and services such as airfares, luggage, food or alcohol while traveling, etc.

Who's Buying Alcoholic and Nonalcoholic Beverages, 9th ed.  Ithaca, N.Y.: New Strategist Publications, 2013. Access in Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Who's Buying Apparel, 8th ed.  Ithaca, N.Y.: New Strategist Publications, 2013. Access in Gale Virtual Reference Library  OR access in eBooks Collection (EBSCOhost)

Who's Buying at Restaurants and Carry-Outs, 10th ed.  Ithaca, N.Y.: New Strategist Publications, 2013. Access in Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Who's Buying Entertainment, 9th ed.  Ithaca, N.Y.: New Strategist Publications, 2013. Access in Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Who's Buying for Pets, 10th ed.  Ithaca, N.Y.: New Strategist Publications, 2013. Access in Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Who's Buying For Travel. Ithaca, N.Y.: New Strategist Publications, 2010. Access in eBook Collection (EBSCOhost).

Who's Buying Groceries. Ithaca, N.Y.: New Strategist, 2010. Access in eBook Collection (EBSCOhost).

Who's Buying Information and Consumer Electronics, 5th ed.  Ithaca, N.Y.: New Strategist Publications, 2013. Access in Gale Virtual Reference Library.

American Health : Demographics And Spending Of Health Care Consumers. Ithaca, N.Y.: New Strategist, 2010. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 10 Feb. 2014. 

C. Consumer Expenditure Survey by U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

1. Access online: http://www.bls.gov/cex/

2. Description: The federal government collects data on spending patterns based on demographics, and makes it available in charts and reports on this website. The Consumer Expenditure Survey provides "information on the buying habits of American consumers, including data on their expenditures, income, and consumer unit (families and single consumers) characteristics." For example, find out which age groups spend the most on a particular product category.

3. INSTRUCTIONS.

a.Go to the Consumer Expenditure Survey.

b. On the Consumer Expenditure Survey home page, scroll down to the QuickLinks section, and select "CE Tables."

c. In the "Regular Tables" list, select "Annual calendar year tables."

d. In the section "Average expenditure, share, and standard error tables", you'll find tables such as "Age of reference person" which will indicated spending patterns based on age and other tables will lead you to spending patterns by income, education, and other demographic variables.

e. When you open one of the tables, scroll past the general consumer unit spending characteristics to get to spending on specific product categories such as food, transportation, apparel, etc.

4. VIDEO DEMONSTRATION:
To see an example of using this source, watch the video: "Consumer Expenditure Survey". This demo may show data that is older than what is currently available in the Consumer Expenditure Survey.

link to video (length: 5min11sec)

 

D. American buyers: Demographics of Shopping. Ithaca, N.Y.: New Strategist Publications.

Access ONLINE in eBooks Collection, 2012: American Buyers
In print in Library: REFERENCE HC110.C6 A66 2010

Description: This is an e-book.  "While most businesses have a feel for what is happening in their own establishment, American Buyers lets them see the big picture beyond their walls or web site. It tells them how many buy the products and services they sell and how much those buyers typically spend, all broken down by the demographics that count—age, household income, household type, race and Hispanic origin, region of residence, and education."


E. Household spending: who spends how much on what, 17th ed., 2012. Ithaca, N.Y.: New Strategist Publications.

Access ONLINE in Gale Virtual Reference Library, 17th edtion, 2012: Household Spending  
In print in Library (2007 ed.): REFERENCE HC110.C6 O34 2007

Description. This is an e-book. Examines how much American households spend on hundreds of products and services by demographics including age, income, household type, region of residence, race and Hispanic origin, and educational attainment. Products and services examined include apparel, entertainment, financial products and services, food, alcohol, gifts, health care, household furnishings, shelter and utilities, personal care, reading, education, tobacco, and transportation
 

F. American Marketplace: Demographics and Spending Patterns, 11th ed., 2014. Ithaca, NY: New Strategist.

Access ONLINE in Gale Virtual Reference Library, 2014 edition: American Marketplace  
In print in Library(2007 edition): REFERENCE HA 203 .A635 2007.

Description: This is an e-book. Provides the demographics and spending patterns of American consumers. Includes data on education, health, housing, income, labor force participation, living arrangements, population, spending, and wealth.
 

G.  U.S. Census Bureau. 
Collects all kinds of data and the website is THE major supplier of demographic information for the United States.

1. Access online: http://www.census.gov

2. INSTRUCTIONS:

a. Go to www.census.gov

b.  An efficient path to demographics is to go to the "Data" tab at the top of the screen, and in its dropdown menu find "Data Tools & Apps", and within its submenu select "American Factfinder".

 

III. Psychographics - Find articles on consumer attitudes and consumer behavior

Get psychographic information

Search for consumer behaviors and/or consumer attitudes in articles in magazines/journals (especially in trade magazines). The instructions for using the research databases below provide examples. Note: depending on your focus, you can search for behaviors and attitudes related to:

1) the product in which you are interested or

2) a specific age group or ethnic group (or other demographic variable), or

3) combine 1) and 2).

HEADS-UP:

  • Added bonus! - Articles that mention psychographic characteristics of a product's market often will also include demographic characteristics of the people who buy a product, so you may learn more about the demographics for your product when doing the psychographic searches described below.
  • READ instructions for the research database below BEFORE clicking to link to them.
     

A. Business Source Premier (database) Lock symbol indicates that Library ID and password must be used to login when off the Madison campus.

STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Link to  Business Source Premier (Note: You can also find Business Source Premier in the "Database Quicklinks" dropdown menu at the top of the Library home page).

2. For consumer attitudes and behaviors related to products, combine the word "consumer" or the word "consumers" with specific products.  You may also search by combining the product name with the word "marketing."

a. For example, for behaviors and attitudes about cranberries:

1) enter the search:

cranberries AND consumer*
[NOTE: The asterisk (*) is used to get any word that begins with the letters c-o-n-s-u-m-e-r. So it will retrieve items that use the word "consumer" or the word "consumers"]

OR

cranberries AND marketing

b.  You then need to scout the results list for articles that might have information useful to you. This may take some digging as a single sentence or paragraph may give you some information about cranberry consumers attitudes. 

1) For example, a sentence might say "people who buy cranberries typically focus on living a healthy lifestyle."  [That's a consumer behavior that motivates their purchase, so you might consider making "people who live healthy lifestyles" a target market]. 

2) For example, a sentence might be, "most consumers buy cranberry consumption in the U.S. at Thanksgiving and Christmas. [That's consumer behavior related to holidays and displays an attitude that "cranberries are only for holidays"].

3) For example, a sentence might be, "Ocean Spray recently started a new marketing campaign targeting people with gym memberships." [Ocean Spray is not likely to do such a campaign unless their market research had identified this market].

3. For consumer attitudes and behaviors related to specific demographic variables,  combine the idea of consumers (or marketing) with specific variables.

a. For example, if you were interested in consumer behaviors of a particular ethnic group such as Asian Americans you might:

1) enter the search:

"asian american*" and consumer*

2). On the results screen, look for methods to refine your search on the left side of the screen. You might find that clicking on the "Subject" category will provide a subject such as "Asian Americans as Consumers". Click on that subject, and your results will be reduced to items focused on that topic.

b. For example, you have a product that is more likely to be purchased by teenagers so you want to know if there are specific teen attitudes or behaviors that might be relevant to how you market your product.

1) enter the search terms:

teen* and marketing

2) On the left side of the results screen, you might consider "Narrow Results By" the Subject category (where you might find a subject such as "Teens -- Attitudes")

4. For consumer attitudes and behaviors related to both product and demographic variable, combine the idea of consumers (or marketing) with a specific demographic variables and a product.

a. For example, to attempt to find out attitudes and behaviors toward a product based on age you might try a search like this.

1) enter the search terms:

consumer* AND cosmetics AND age

 

B. ABI INFORM (database) Lock symbol indicates that Library ID and password must be used to login when off the Madison campus.

STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Link to  ABI INFORM (Note: You can also find ABI INFORM in the "Database Quicklinks" dropdown menu at the top of the Library home page).

2. Use the same types of searches in this research database as were described for Business Source Premier above.

IV. Market size based on GEOGRAPHY

Find a city in which to market your product.


This is a two-step process:

1) to identify a city in which to market a product

AND

2) find out how big the market is for the product in that city. 

If you already know the city in which you want to market your product, go to STEP 2.
 

STEP 1.  Identify a city in which to market your product

Use: The Lifestyle Market Analyst. Des Plaines, IL: SRDS.
In print in Library:
REFERENCE HF5905.S73 L54 2008

a.  This print book provides market analysis of U.S. lifestyles. Lifestyles are behaviors and these behaviors impact what people buy - their consumer behaviors.  The "Lifestyle Profiles" section of the book analyzes 74 lifestyle interests and activities in order to find out where households interested in each are likely to be located, what their demographic characteristics are, and what other lifestyle interests they pursue.

b.  For each lifestyle profile, the book ranks cities for the lifestyle, with the city "most into" that lifestyle ranked as 1. You can select a likely city in which to market your product -- by identifying a high ranking city that also has a population (or number of households) large enough to provide a reasonable market size.

c.  Follow this procedure:

1) Find the list of lifestyles starting on page A-7 near the front of the book or browse the Lifestyle Profiles section.

2) Look for a lifestyle that is related to your product.  For example, if you are trying to find a market for a pet product, look to see if there is lifestyle such as "Own a Dog" or "Own a Cat."  Other examples of lifestyles are "Fishing Frequently," "Electronics," "Sewing," "Physical Fitness," etc. etc.

NOTE: You may not find an exact match. Choose a lifestyle that seems likely to be related to your product.

3) Go to the page where the lifestyle you've selected is described (the Lifestyle Profiles section of the book begins page 714)

4) Find the list of city rankings for the lifestyle, and select a city as your target market based on the city's high ranking for the lifestyle and good-sized population.

5) NOTE: Although this book was published in 2008, you may use it to find a geographic location appropriate for selling your product.

HOWEVER, once you've identified the location, you'll need to update the population or household numbers (size of your market) for that geographic place by using other sources (see STEP 2 below to get current numbers from the Census Bureau). 

d. You can also use Lifestyle Market Analyst to find geographic markets based on demographic characteristics such as "dual income households" or "18-34 year olds, Income $50,000-$74,999" and many others. Lifestyle Market Analyst combines lifestyle, demographic, and geographic data in one volume.The "Market Profiles" section analyzes each geographic market in terms of its demographic characteristics and the lifestyle interests of its population. The "Consumer Segment Profiles" section analyzes households with particular demographic characteristics in order to find out where they are concentrated geographically and what lifestyle interests and activities they prefer.

The following SAMPLE PAGES from Lifestyle Market Analyst demonstrate the kinds of information it provides, but you will need to go to use the print volume in the Library to find your lifestyle profile. Sample pages:

 

STEP 2. Find out how big the market is for a product in a specific city

To assess the market potential of a given city, county, or state, knowing that a particular demographic characteristic matters (such as total population, population within a certain age group, population with a certain income, etc.), you can get demographic information about a geographic area. The procedure for doing so is described below.

   Use:   U.S. Census Bureau tools.

a. STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS:

1) Go to American Factfinder    [There are various paths to demographic data on the Census Bureau website, such as the links in the "People" tab at the top of the page. However, American Factfinder is usually the best starting point.]

3) On the American Factfinder page, you can  select a geographic area. In the "Community Facts" search box, enter a geographic name like San Francisco, CA. 

a) For example, imagine that you've been researching a product and have concluded that San Francisco would be a good place to market the product.

b) To determine the size of your market, you need to know how many people of a certain age live there.

4) So you start typing San Francisco in the search box, which brings up possible San Francisco choice. You can select "San Francisco city, California" and then click "Go."

5) You will now have a list of tables with demographic data about San Francisco.

6) In the results, click on a table name to view the data. Examine tables such as "General Population and Housing...", "American Community Survey," etc.   For example, if your product is most likely to appeal to a particular age group, explore the tables to find out how many people of that age group are in San Francisco.

Karl E. Mundt Library, Dakota State University, Madison, South Dakota 57042
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