UCB Libraries

Consumer Research Guide

  • Getting
    Started
  • Consumer
    Demographics
  • Consumer
    Behavior
  • Consumer
    Market
  • More
    Help

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:

There are two major sources of demographics on US consumers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Census Bureau. BLS covers data on income, employment, productivity, spending, and prices. The Census covers data on how many people live in a city, ethnicity, income (overall not tied to job type), travel and much more.

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.

World Bank Data
This site provides a quick easy interface for demographic, economic, and social indicators for the world.

Passport GMID CU
This source is great for demographic information from across the world (both developed and developing countries). In addition to the data you can also often find information on consumer behavior through country reports through categories such as "consumer lifestyles."

General Sources

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.

iPoll CU
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 CU
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.

The resources listed here have a combination of materials on consumer behavior and demographics.

Market Research Reports

Market research reports provide a wealth of data on the behavior of consumers as well as selected demographic information.

Mintel CU
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.

+ Help Using Mintel

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":

Mintel 'Pet' Search Results
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 CU
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).

Simmons CU
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.

+ Help Using Simmons

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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