UCB Libraries

JOUR 4533: Applied Consumer Insights

  • Introduction

  • The Market
  • Advertising
  • Consumer Data
  • Resource List


Search Strategy


The Search Strategy Process Worksheet


Think before you search! No matter which search tool you use (databases, Google, etc.), it always helps to have a search strategy. A little planning at the beginning of your research process will save time. Frame your search strategy in terms of the data pieces you will need to write your report.


  • What types of information will you need in order to understand your category?
  • What might that information look like?
  • Who might keep track of that information?
  • Is the information likely to be freely available or hidden behind a paywall?
  • Is there more than one keyword that could describe the category?


For information on choosing the right keywords and using them effectively, see this guide.



Using the Library


If you do your research away from campus, you'll need to connect through the VPN. Problems with the VPN software should be referred to OIT, the Office of Information Technology.


In addition to books and periodicals in print, CU provides access to a huge number of subscription websites, article databases, and ebooks. Finding these resources can be tricky. If you need a refresher on how to find books, journals, articles, or data owned by the Library, see the "How do I...?" pages.


Of course you will search the Internet or newspapers for general information, but limiting your search to freely-available sources alone may significantly impact your understanding of the big picture.


Research Help


Have questions about using RefWorks, the library catalog, or library databases? Feel free to ask me. I'm available for consultation via email or in person by appointment.

Natalia Tingle


(303) 492-3034; Koelbel 200E





Market Overview


Mintel contains information on consumer trends, demographic profiles, brand share dynamics and market drivers. Search by product, lifestyle attribute, or company.

NOTE: Use is restricted to current UCB students and faculty with a valid Colorado.edu email address. After agreeing to the academic terms of use, click the link for "create a personal profile" and use your Colorado.edu email address for the account.



Industry Research


Industry surveys can be used for information about the current business environment, regulations, developments, and issues that impact companies operating within that industry. For your Category Assignment, a good industry survey will help you become familiar with the key players and brands, the vocabulary, and the overall size of the market.


You'll notice that each of the databases above uses different terms to identify the categories. In other words, the vocabulary is not standardized across the databases. A tool to remedy this problem is called NAICS: the North American Industry Classification System.


NAICS and its precursor SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) are a means for organizing disparate business into a category about which statistics and data can be collected. You can find out more about both at: www.census.gov/eos/www/naics.


As you go through your project, think broadly and creatively about where your target fits. Some industries are too new or too odd to fit into an established category. It doesn't hurt to look at more than one industry survey. Likewise, it is often helpful to think of a similar/competing company or brand and see where that company or brand fits into the classification system.



Rankings and Competitors


Business Insights: Global

Research and analyze companies, industries, and economies around the world.



In addition to general "Top 10" lists and brand share rankings, there are hundreds of lists covering a huge range of (sometimes unexpected) topics.


Local Business Resources

Reference USA

Search for businesses by name, keyword, location, or industry. Financial information, employees, and operating expenses are listed as available, even for small businesses.


Boulder County Business Report: Business news, analysis, data, and statistics for Boulder and Broomfield counties. Access the library's subscription content using the link above for full-text articles, or browse headlines at www.bcbr.com.






Trade Publications


Selected Advertising Trade Journals and Sites

  • AdWeek provides the latest in advertising and marketing news, along with agency ratings, best spots of the month and year listings, job postings, and more.

  • Advertising Age is a great source for marketing, demographics, and articles.


Best Databases for Trade Publications

  • Factiva features full-text articles from major world business and financial news sources, company reports, and financial market information. The search interface can be tricky, but the scope of coverage is unmatched.

  • Lexis Nexis Academic also provides full-text articles, news transcripts, country economic and political risk reports, and legal cases.

  • Business & Industry has full-text articles from trade and business publications. Good for industry trends, marketing, strategy, operations, and management best practices.



The Red Books


Red Books directory of 24,000 advertisers and 13,500 advertising agencies, U.S. and International.


The Red Books database is great for finding advertising expenditures. Read the "about us" page (www.redbooks.com/about_us) on their commercial site to see how this resource is used by businesses and advertising agencies.





Ad$pender monitors expenditure information for millions of brands across: Network TV, Spot TV, Cable TV, Syndication Hispanic TV, Network Radio, National Spot Radio, Local Radio, Consumer Magazines, B-to-B Magazines, Local Magazines, Sunday Magazines, Hispanic Magazines, National Newspapers, Local Newspapers, Hispanic Newspapers, Internet, and Outdoor.


NOTE: Use of Ad$pender is limited to current UCB students/faculty/staff, and limited to one user at a time. Ask a Business Library staff member to log you in.


Click here for the Ad$pender manual.


There are two tricks to Ad$pender. The images below will point you to the keys to getting the data out of the database. First, create a new report. Second, after all your choices are entered, refresh the result list until you see an option to download your report.


Ad Spender Landing Page Image


Ad Spender Refresh Results Image




Mintel Oxygen


Mintel contains information on consumer trends, demographic profiles, brand share, and market drivers. Search by product, lifestyle attribute, or company.


Mintel offers two types of reports. You'll find reports about a product or activity (i.e. "Casual Dining - US"), and reports about marketing to a particular group (i.e. "Marketing to Millennials - US"). Each report is presented in the same format and contains demographic data. Many reports have an appendix of "other useful consumer tables." These tables feature demographic data related, but not exactly relevant, to the report topic.


NOTE: Use is restricted to current UCB students and faculty with a valid Colorado.edu email address. After agreeing to the academic terms of use, click the link for "create a personal profile" and use your Colorado.edu email address for the account.





For an excellent overview of searching for and interpreting Simmons data, see these videos created by Jill Markgraf, Head of Research and Instruction at the McIntyre Library - University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire.

The first video explains how to find data about product use in specified demographic groups.
Linked from: www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6UGzwoyoGU.


The second video explains how to interpret the data.
Linked from: www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3Kl54PJ-m4.



Government Sources


Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is the only Federal survey to provide information on the complete range of consumers' expenditures and incomes, as well as the characteristics of those consumers.


The Statistical Abstract of the United States is the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States. Unfortunately, the Census Bureau will no longer produce new volumes after this year. To access the most current data, please refer to the organizations cited in the source notes for each table of the Statistical Abstract.


American Factfinder is the easiest interface for searching census data, and the best source for freely-available data about the demographic characteristics of the US population.



Direct Links to Sources Featured in this Guide


Need More Help?


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Resource List