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Know Your Target Market: Customer Demographics

  Today’s Tip

Best Practice: Demographics help in branding by knowing customers age, sex, marital status, education, family cycle, income, home value.

Image Customer Demographics

Today’s Article:  Know Your Target Market – Customer Demographics

The kiss of death in branding is trying to be all things to all people. The more you understand about your customer the easier it is to find them, connect with them and build a trusted relationship.

Understanding the demographics of your customers or market is critical for the success of your brand. Not only will this help you find and connect with them, but this information will also help with pricing, packaging, promotion and place.

Lets say you have a business idea or are considering opening a retail store. In order to properly evaluate the idea or a location for the business, it is important to know the demographic profile of the potential customers. This helps determine if the idea or the location has a large enough target market to support the business.

When looking at a business idea or location it is important to create a demographic profile: age, race, gender, income, religion, education, career, memberships, value of residence (rented or owned) and number of residents in the household. Demographics consist of factual information and are void of any opinion or conclusion.


“Leigh and colleague DaeHwan Kim analyzed 1994-96 data from the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals and the accompanying Diet and Health Knowledge Survey. The data included responses from 5,000 Americans who were asked about restaurant dining habits, income, race, gender, age and education.

The researchers found that people visited fast-food restaurants more often as their household income increased — at least up to a point. Fast-food visits rose along with annual income up to $60,000; beyond that, visits started to drop back down, replaced by full-service, sit-down dining at slightly higher prices.

Based on the data, the researchers described the typical fast-food consumer as a lower-middle income head of household, who is budget-conscious and harried and likes the convenience and low price of fast food, compared with other restaurants. Poor people, by contrast, can’t easily afford fast-food “value meals,” and the poorest, who may rely on the FNS Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, certainly can’t use food stamps at McDonald’s.”

If you do not know the target market customer profile for your type of product or service, first try researching it on the Internet. Next contact an association that serves that industry. They may have a target market customer profile identified to help their members. The best source for this is Encyclopedia of Associations. You can subscribe to this online or go to your local public library reference section for free.  Encyclopedia of Associations

Once you know the target market customer profile, you can see if there is enough customers in your geographic area to support the business idea or if you have the right location for a business. Below are sources for free demographic information provided by the U.S. Government.

U.S. Bureau of the Census
Official site of the Census Bureau; can choose data by category or geographic location.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Bureau of Labor Statistics official site; collects and analyzes labor economic statistics. Data includes employment and unemployment, payroll, consumer price index, producer price index. Keyword searching is available.

Developed by Federal Interagency Council on Statistical Policy. Provides easy access to statistics produced by government agencies. Can choose data by subject or by agency. Fairly comprehensive and easy to use.

Current Population Statistics
Conducted by Bureau of the Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Primary source for information on the U.S. labor force.

County Business Patterns
Available from Census Bureau. Includes information from County Business Patterns, Business Register, Annual Company Organization Survey, Economic Census, Annual Survey of Manufactures, Current Business Survey, administrative records of the IRS, Social Security Administration, and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data available back to 1988. Information available by industry.

Social Security Administration
Data available includes total number of SSI recipients, total payments, and age and category, at the national, state, and county levels.

Statistical Abstract of the United States
Annual government publication contains social and economic statistics for the U.S. and selected international data. Data are retrievable from numerous tables which are divided into subjects such as population, vital statistics, education, energy, and agriculture.

Vital Statistics of the United States
National Center for Health Statistics site. Contains data on births, deaths, and life expectancy, and health reports. Searchable by keyword.

International Demographic Information

World Bank 
Provides access to demographic information by allowing browsing through hundreds of available data sets on a wide variety of topics. Also link to country data, can view one particular country’s available data sets.



Other ways to gather the demographic information:

Written Surveys – Online survey tools allows for the collection of demographic information about customers or potential customers.

Personal Observation – Observing and listening to customers in your business or at a competitors.

Personal Conversations – Talk directly to the consumers

Employee Observations – Asking employees or people who have worked in the industry what they have observed.

Buy the data – Contract with a data supplier to provide the demographic info.

Once you know the target market customer demographic and psychographic profile, you can see if there is enough customers in your geographic area to support the business idea or if you have the right location for a business. This data will help you with brand development and brand implementation.


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Action Step: Write down your customers’ demographic profile.

Next go to:  Know Your Target Market: Customer Psychographics


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