Consumer Research Guide
Starting your Research
There are two major areas you can research on consumers: demographics and behavior. The final tab, consumer market offers resources that combine data from both of these areas, often in what is called a market research report.
Demographics are defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "a particular section of a population, typically defined in terms of factors such as age, income, ethnic origin, etc., esp. regarded as a target audience for marketing or broadcasting." (OED Online) Behavior in this sense focuses on the interactions between individuals, businesses and society at large. Despite the clear breakdown in the definitions, you will find that sources often contain both demographic and behavioral information.
Think broadly about your search terms. Here are a few subjects from the library catalog to get you started searching:
American Factfinder and Social Explorer CU
These two sites provide data on the demographic characteristics of the US population from the Census. American Factfinder is the free source of this data (from a variety of census datasets), going back to 1990. Social Explorer provides the decennial census and American Community Survey back to 1790, along with data on religion back to 1990.
BLS Subject Area Categories
This page links you to all the major data sets from the BLS. One example is the Consumer Expenditure Survey, the only Federal survey to provide information on the complete range of consumers' expenditures and incomes, as well as the characteristics of those consumers.
Passport GMID CU
This source is great for international information on demographics. This database also links up nicely with data on behaviors under consumer lifestyles.
While the specific data sets listed above provide the majority of the demographics you need, there is additional data gathered from a number of sources. You can find this information by using one of these more general sources.
Data Planet CU
This database provides a single interface to a number of data sources.
Statistical Abstract of the United States CU
This site is the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States.
Statistical Insight CU
This database collects statistical reports from local, state, national, international and private sources.
Consumer behavior describes how the consumer interacts with their environment. These are resources explicitly dealing with behavior. For resources covering both demographics and behavior, see the Consumer Market tab.
Consumer Expenditure Survey
The only Federal survey to provide information on the complete range of consumers' expenditures and incomes, as well as the characteristics of those consumers.
Business Source Complete CU
This database contains a number of articles on consumer behavior. In fact, it contains entire journals devoted to the topic, such as the Journal of Consumer Research and Consumer Behavior.
This is a collection of opinion polls, which can be a great source of information on consumer opinions as well as behavior.
Additional sources which are not directly related to business:
PsycInfo is a psychology database, but it also covers the psychological aspects of related disciplines, such as medicine, psychiatry, anthropology, business, and law.
Communication and Mass Media Complete CU
This is a comprehensive database studying communications.
Market Research Reports
Market research reports provide a wealth of data on the behavior of consumers as well as selected demographic information.
This site provides market research containing information on consumer trends, demographic profiles, brand share dynamics and market drivers. There are over 800 individual reports now available in 13 categories, with data covering US and select International Markets.
You need to register using your colorado.edu email address to use this database.
ou can browse or search for reports on your industry's market in this database. When searching, try using broad terms for your industry, then you will get reports not only on your industry, but also on the consumers as well. See the results below searching for "pet":
These results not only talk about the market for pet food, supplies, and retail establishments, but also give information on pet owners.
Frost & Sullivan CU
This site offers market research reports and forecasts. Strong in medical, engineering, biotech, and information & communication technology (ICT) research.
Passport GMID CU
Passport GMID provides extensive data on the international market, providing not only information on consumer behavior, but also demographics.
Market Audience Data/Analysis
SRDS provides access to the Local Market Audience Analyst reports, including Market Profile Reports (demographic and behavior profiles), Lifestyle Analysis Reports (lifestyle behaviors), Demographics Reports, and PRIZM Reports (household makeup and lifestyle traits).
Contains media audience and market survey data collected through interviews and questionnaires covering consumer product, media, and lifestyle preferences. Utilized to determine the probable audience for certain products or services.
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.
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