Sociodemographic data is essential in market research to understand differences in habits and attitudes among different population groups. The idea is that people who share personal characteristics, such as age or gender, will also more frequently share needs, habits, or viewpoints. Analyzing market research results cross-referenced by sociodemographic variables allows us to see differences and identify opportunities. For example, if a population segment has a need more frequently, we can create products or advertising campaigns specifically targeted towards them.
In this article, we’ll tell you about the most common sociodemographic variables in market research.
Common Demographic Data
There are many sociodemographic data points you can use. Some must be collected through specific questions in the questionnaire, while others can be composed from others.
Remember that if you use a consumer panel like We are testers, all sociodemographic information has been collected in advance and is regularly updated to be available in your study. Unless you need different variables, you won’t need to ask for them, saving you fieldwork.
Gender is an essential sociodemographic variable. It’s common to find products or campaigns that cater to the needs and preferences of a particular gender. To collect information, it’s becoming increasingly common to offer a greater number of options. This increases inclusivity and allows for more detailed data collection when relevant. A simple scheme with four response options often found in questionnaires is as follows:
- Prefer not to say
Age is one of the most basic and relevant demographic data in market research. It allows us to understand how consumer needs and preferences change over time. Different age groups often have different interests and behaviors, which has significant implications when selecting the target audience for a product or campaign.
Some brands may need different age cutoffs if they target very specific age groups. Remember that with We are testers, you can customize your age cutoffs. If you opt for a standard classification, a very common one, and the default one used by We are testers, is as follows:
- Under 18 years
- 18-24 years
- 25-34 years
- 35-44 years
- 45-54 years
- 55-64 years
- 65 years or older
Age of the head of household
Some household purchases are intended for individuals, while others are for the entire household. For example, most supermarket purchases are made for the consumption of all household members. That’s why consumer panels that collect information on shopping baskets use this variable. It’s typically divided into the following categories:
- Under 35 years
- 35 to 49 years
- 50 to 64 years
- 65 years or older
Generation refers to groups of people born in a similar time period who share common historical and cultural experiences. Millennials may have different preferences than Baby Boomers, and brands have the opportunity to adapt their marketing strategy to them. In recent years, the use of generations has become very popular, and numerous publications describing the characteristics of each group have emerged. However, generations have also been controversial. Critics argue that the differences between generations can be explained by the age difference at the time of the study. That is, many millennials may be very similar to baby boomers when they reach the same age.
To allow you to check for yourself the usefulness of generations in your market, with We are testers, you can customize the age cutoffs for your studies. You can use these birth year ranges:
- Silent Generation – Born in 1948 or earlier
- Baby Boomers – 1949 – 1968
- Generation X – 1969 – 1980
- Millennials or Generation Y – 1981 – 1994
- Generation Z – 1994 – 2010
Household size refers to the number of people living in a residence. A large family will have a greater demand for products and services compared to someone living alone, and the volumes of packaging intended for them may be larger.
Household size is typically divided into five categories:
- 1 person
- 2 people
- 3 people
- 4 people
- 5 or more people
Presence of Children in the Household
The presence of children in the household indicates whether there are children and their ages. The arrival of children drastically changes consumption patterns and clearly affects attitudes toward issues such as safety, product quality, or value for money. Additionally, having young children under 6 is different from having older children who require different products.
Generally, the presence of children in the household is grouped into the following categories:
- No presence of children
- With presence of children (any age)
- Children under 6 years old
- Children 6 to 15 years old
Household Life Cycle
The household life cycle refers to the stages a family goes through over time, from forming the household to retirement. Clearly, a young couple living alone will have different needs than a retired couple.
This demographic variable is a composition of other variables such as age, the presence of children in the household, and family size. Typically, it is distributed into the following groups:
- Young independent individuals
- Youthful couples without children
- Couples with young children
- Couples with teenage/older children
- Single-parent households
- Couples without children (retired)
- Retired individuals
If you want more information about the life cycle, there are some documents on the AIMC website that may be of interest to you. The definition of the TNS household life cycle and the AIMC household life cycle.
The region is the geographical area where the respondent’s residence is located. For brands operating in the national territory, this variable will allow you to see differences and identify opportunities among different regions of the country. Additionally, regional brands may prefer to conduct some studies directly in their areas of influence.
In Spain, there are different territorial distribution units, and at We are testers, we have categorized them from Autonomous Communities to postal codes. To make the studies easily interpretable, a classification based on groups of provinces is often used. One very common classification is the Nielsen areas. On the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food website, you can find a map of Nielsen Areas. Here, we describe them for you:
- Northwest Area: A Coruña, Asturias, León, Lugo, Orense, and Pontevedra.
- North-Central Area: Álava, Bizkaia, Burgos, Cantabria, Gipuzkoa, Navarra, La Rioja, Palencia,
- Northeast Area: Balears, Barcelona, Girona, Huesca, Lleida, Tarragona, Zaragoza, except for the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona.
- Metropolitan Area of Barcelona.
- Levante Area: Albacete, Alicante, Castellón, Murcia, Valencia
- Central Area: Ávila, Cáceres, Ciudad Real, Cuenca, Guadalajara, Salamanca, Segovia, Soria, Teruel, Toledo, Valladolid, Zamora, and Madrid except for the Metropolitan Area
- Metropolitan Area of Madrid
- South Area: Almería, Badajoz, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga, Sevilla
- Canary Islands
Population size indicates the number of people residing in the respondent’s municipality. The needs, attitudes, and consumption of people also depend to a large extent on the population center in which they reside, and even access to products and services can be different. Habitat size is usually divided into the following categories:
- Less than 10,000 inhabitants
- 10,000-100,000 inhabitants
- 100,000-500,000 inhabitants
- More than 500,000 inhabitants
- Metropolitan Areas
Socioeconomic class is based on factors such as income, educational level, and occupation. All these factors are combined to create the socioeconomic class variable. A common socioeconomic class segmentation is:
Other Sociodemographic Data
There are many other sociodemographic data points that you can use in your market studies. Depending on the goals of your study, you can choose to customize the cutoffs of the variables described so far or even use others that are more relevant. To provide you with more options and inspiration to define your own sociodemographics, here are the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food’s household panel methodology and a CIS questionnaire.
How to Use Sociodemographic Data in Your Market Studies
All market studies use sociodemographic data to analyze the data. Having visibility into the differences between population segments allows you to:
- Identify differences and opportunities. Perhaps you want to establish yourself in segments where you are more successful or expand your presence to those where your brand is not well established yet. Sociodemographic data will help you make decisions with real consumer information and focus your efforts and resources on strategic demographic segments.
- Create strategies targeted at specific segments. If you see opportunities in a particular segment, you can create plans to target your brand specifically to them.
- Design new products and communication campaigns. You can use the study data to create new offers and campaigns aimed at the segments in which you want to grow.
Sociodemographic data has also received criticism. Its detractors consider it simplistic since people who share demographics can be completely different in terms of attitudes. At We are testers, we believe that attitude segmentations complement sociodemographic ones. Combining both methods will provide a better understanding of consumers, and there’s nothing to limit you to just one path to understand people’s reality.
Now you know sociodemographic data in great detail! At We are testers, you have demographic variables at your disposal, already collected. If those work for you, there’s no need to include them in your questionnaire. If you believe you need other types of sociodemographic variables, please contact our team of experts, and they can help you create the best questions to collect them.
Update date 22 December, 2023