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Research Consumers

What is consumer analysis?

Consumer analysis is the process of reviewing the traits and behaviors of consumers who are likely to purchase a company's product or service. Businesses use this information to ensure their products and services meet their consumers' needs.

Understanding the Consumer

Consumer research can be segmented into four main categories:

  • Demographic: Includes age, gender, income, race, marital status, education, occupation, home ownership, number in the household, and age of the home.
  • Psychographic: Looks at the values, activities, interests, and opinions of the population, what we often call lifestyle.
  • Behavioral: Divides the market by observable behaviors such as usage, purchasing decisions, and brand loyalty.
  • Geographic: Looks at groups of prospective customers based on where they live such as country, state, city, or region.
  • Who wants to know this? Information is collected and analyzed by a variety of organizations, such as market research firms, academic researchers, trade/industry organizations, and government agencies. Consider who might collect the information to guide your search.
  • What do you need to know? Ask yourself the following questions while conducting consumer research:
    • Who are the current customers?
    • Where do these customers live?
    • What are the income levels in the market?
    • What is the age pattern in the market?
  • Consider alternatives to expensive research. Some information is available free of charge (i.e., government data and library resources). Other information, such as publications from market research firms, may require a fee. In lieu of paying for an expensive market research report, look for freely available press releases, articles or abstracts that will summarize their findings. Consider contacting trade and industry organizations. If you identify yourself as a student, they may be willing to share data they’ve collected.
  • Consider all the applicable keywords. When searching reports and articles, consider broader variables or broader markets, especially in search terms (for example, "gender" instead of "women").
  • Collect small pieces of information from multiple sources. Consumer information is rarely bundled into a single comprehensive report. Look for valuable pieces of consumer information in company and industry reports. If you cannot find a company report on your chosen company, look for competitor reports.

Searching the Literature

First, you'll want to start by searching the literature in library databases. Articles can be good sources of information about consumer behavior and trends. Use the Advanced search option to limit your results by source types, date, geographic areas, and more. Combine your industry terms (chocolate or computers) with terms like consumer or consumer behavior.

Consumer Research Search Terms and Examples

Search terms you might want to consider when conducting your research include:

  • brand behavior
  • consumer behavior
  • consumer attitudes
  • consumer preferences
  • consumer research
  • consumer profiling
  • customer loyalty
  • customer relations
  • customer satisfaction
  • women consumers
  • target marketing
  • market segmentation

Here are some sample searches to help give you an idea of how to combine your search terms:

  • consumer AND spending AND chocolate
  • consumers AND behavior AND computers


Demographic Research

Psychographic Research

Behavioral Research

Geographic Research