Types of Demographic Research

Demographic research is used by government agencies and businesses.
Demographic research is used by government agencies and businesses. (Image: Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Demographic research is used by government agencies and businesses, large and small. Demographic information gives an entity a “snapshot” of the constituents and consumers they currently serve or seek to serve. In many cases, the data is cross referenced, wherein a profit-driven organization may use demographic data extrapolated from government research, and vice versa.

Census Demographic Research

The United States Census Bureau compiles data to get a demographic profile of residents. The data is segmented for each state, county and major cities that have a population of 250,000 or more. Census data describes populations in terms of sex, native origins, or race, total people living within one household, income categories and more to compose a demographic profile. Census data is “quantitative,” in that it is a numerical compilation of results for a specific category, such as people who have a college education, or the number of people in an area who are of Hispanic origin. The demographic data is derived from census polls.

Consumer Demographic Research

Companies need to know who buys their products. Demographic research provides companies with answers. For example, a company might use demographic information from the census to find out how many people live in a certain city that are home owners and have three or more children. The company would then use this information to figure out what the marketplace potential for their product or service. The company can also execute its own research to conduct a “deep dive” and use the data to develop a demographic profile of current and potential customers. They would seek demographic information regarding the age, sex, race, income and education of participants in the research. The result provides the company with a detailed demographic profile, such as 40 percent of Joe’s Pizza consumers are age 24 and older, have two children, a high school education and a household income of more than $70,000.

Political Campaign Demographic Research

Politicians use demographic information to develop their campaign platforms. For example, a politician might use the number of parents who are home owners with children under age five to campaign for programs to promote early childhood education. Another candidate might use demographic information that indicates that a majority of residents in an area are age 65 and older to develop a campaign platform to loosen qualifications for Medicare. The politicians might also conduct their own surveys to gain insights on how people feel about issues, based on their demographic profile. Politicians will typically query respondents of polls and surveys to find out if they are registered voters. The poll and survey results, based on the demographic research, are often used to assess the viability of a politician taking a particular stand on controversial issues.

Focus Group Demographic Research

Focus groups are used by entities to obtain both quantitative and qualitative data and information. Demographic information is used to screen and select focus group participants. For example, a beauty products manufacturer might conduct focus groups to find out how women ages 18 to 24 feel about their lipstick. The company might set additional requirements, based on demographics to compare responses among those who have a college degree and those who have a high school degree, or among those who are single and those who have children. Comparing the results, based on the demographics, helps the company develop marketing and advertising strategies. The demographic information provided lets them zero in on the strongest demographic group to target for their products or services.

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