Tag Archives: Demographics

Consumer Psychology: Understand your Customer

“…the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.” ~ Peter Drucker

Introduction
Markets have influenced our acquiring/buying habits from the earliest days of our evolution, perhaps as early as bartering systems in pre-historic times. One tribe had an excess catch from hunting; another tribe had an excess of hides from last season’s catch and the market is born. The exchange of goods is motivated by need and its reptilian drive, “survival of the fittest”.

Fast forward to today’s modern marketing. As the science of marketing has developed, several concepts have gained wide-spread application. The primary focus today is that fully understanding and tapping into the consumer’s motivation, which can be deeply subconscious, results in brand loyalty in purchasing products and services. An example is Clotaire Rapaille’s approach that to understand the “collective unconscious” and thereby articulate the “code” opens the way to desired marketing success.

The foundation of marketing science is based on market research strategy, to know the customer and to fill needs that need filling. Understanding the customer can produce high-quality products, such as Apple has done. On the other hand, some marketing approaches have turned into manipulative endeavors to sculpt the customer to believe they need what’s being sold. This form of marketing is distorted and disturbing. This BLOG post reviews the history and development of marketing as a science, then explores the power of modern customer-centric marketing updated for the digital age, and then looks at the downside of manipulative marketing.

Background – Development of Marketing as a Science
Early development of marketing as a science included Louis Cheskin and Neil Borden. Cheskin contributed the “customer-centric” approach, rather than the top down approach that had been previously popular. The earlier approach to marketing was top-down, where a company would create a new product with the assumption that it would sell. A customer-centric approach is based on consumer feedback, often through customer focus groups and observation. This approach defines the needs of the customer thereby providing products and services that meet those needs. For example, through customer research, Cheskin helped engineer the success of margarine by changing it’s color from white to yellow, and advertising it’s similarity to butter (Cheskin, 1959).

Borden, in his seminal article, “The Concept of the Marketing Mix,” named the 4Ps: Product, Price, Place and Promotion (Borden, 1964). The evolution of technology has brought with it increasing speed as well as additional Ps: People and Performance. We have moved from a top down approach, where the consumer was thought to be one amongst many and easily influenced, to a customer centric approach, where individuality, instinctual desires and inner drives have become the focus of marketers.

Purpose of Marketing
I believe there is a true purpose to the original intent of marketing. Discovering human needs and providing the products or services that support those needs is the most effective formula for exchange in the marketplace.

In Making Meaning: How Successful Businesses Deliver Meaningful Customer Experiences, the authors state, “We envision a time when customers increasingly make their purchase decisions based on deeply valued meanings that companies evoke for them through their products and services – in other words, meaningful consumption – as opposed to simply responding based on features, price, brand identity, and emotional pitches” (Diller, Shedroff, & Rhea, 2008, p. 1).

For example, Apple captured the MP3 market with the iPod and iTunes. The iPod became an emotionally constructed appendage that represents much more than just a music device. It has become a cultural icon that people purchase not only for usefulness but also for a sense of belonging, an image of appearing “cool,” and much like a stylistic piece of jewelry, it comes in hip colors and unique styles.

The Evolution of Marketing Research
Concept Engineering, a market research approach developed by Gary Burchill at MIT, uses an ethnological immersion process called “Voice of the Customer.” Key people on a new product team visit customers, interviewing and observing them in order to discern what the true need is. They are especially trying to discover “latent needs,” needs or wants that the customer has but is not consciously aware of. They then target their new product or service to fill that need or want. This process of listening to the customer allows the new product developers to make meaning of the consumer’s direct experience. Innovation and customer satisfaction can follow (Burchill & Brodie, 1997).

Apple – A Case Example

Apple is a great example of the power of understanding customer needs and providing products and services to fill those needs. Apple has become a cultural icon for our technological era and this digital age. As I wrote in this week’s forum post, Steve Jobs announced Apple’s newest, latest, greatest and COOLest product this past January with global fan-fare: the iPad.

In typical Apple marketing fashion, Apple required customers to wait several months for the iPad’s release. During this time Apple launched a marketing blitz, including an iPad frenzy on Twitter. iTunes has just launched an update for interfacing with the iPad, just in time for the iPad’s release. There was a Netflix app available for the new iPad even before the iPad’s release. Many people tweeted that they were downloading it in preparation for getting their iPad. There were 240,000 pre-orders awaiting the iPad.

Apple has found the “code” for “cool,” at least for this digital generation. Apple is a cultural phenomenon, as the MacHead photo illustrates – “the cult of mac.” There are many who are fervently dedicated. The iPod is jewelry in addition to music, an emotional as well as pragmatic piece of “cool,” coming in different colors and styles to match each person’s individual uniqueness. Apple understands its customers and has successfully tapped into their latent needs, capturing the market by storm.

Daniel and I picked up our iPads on Saturday, documenting and interviewing folks in line. On the whole, the Saturday crowd are early adopters who do respond to Apple’s advertising. There were 2 mechanical engineers and another student, among many others. The wait was short. The Mac Genius who waited on us was knowledgeable and responsive. We left with our questions answered, our iPads and leather cases in hand, and BIG SMILES.

The picture below shows four generations of Apple users: Stephanie, her Mom, her Grandmom, and her son. This was a family adventure for them. Their smiles and excitement might indicate a bit about their psychology. They said they considered this a bonding experience as they upgraded their technology together and supported one another. They were really enjoying playing with their “new toys.” 

Apple sold 300,000 iPads on Saturday according to reported figures. This first rush of purchases is the “early adopters” phase. Apple’s next marketing target is to reach more of the general population.

Downside of Manipulative Marketing
There is a downside to current day marketing. The episodes we watched from Frontline highlighted the hidden and manipulative side of marketing in our digital culture. For example, the use of “product placement.” Product placement is a form of embedded marketing.  Branded goods are placed, without explicit advertising, in the storyline of movies, TV shows, or other programming. This is often not disclosed at the time the product is being featured. (Wikipedia).

Consider that the star of this week’s episode of “Modern Family” is YES: The iPad.  On the eve of the iPad’s launch – Phil Dunphy, one of the main characters in this season’s runaway hit sitcom and touted to be the best new comedy of the year, celebrates his birthday. He is all encompassed in his desire for an iPad. His wife misses the early morning rush to stand in line at the Apple store, eventually getting there only to find they are “sold-out”. Message to audience: get there early, get there or you will miss out. Eventually, Phil’s son manages to get an iPad from one of Phil’s friends through social networking. Phil gets the iPad, everyone is happy, all is right with the world.

Advertising Age reports that this was just a very clever storyline; using Apple is like using a cultural icon, and not product placement. How it’s perceived is another thing though. Advertising Age states, “Even without Apple plunking down any cash, last night’s episode was tantamount to a huge wet kiss of approval for a product that has yet to be tested by actual consumer use (Steinberg, 2010).”

Whether it was product placement or not, it caused significant stirrings and fans perceived it as such reporting being furious. A typical post on IBDb forums stated, “Tuned in for comedy, sat through a 30 min iPad commercial (Bershad, 2010).” Consumers are becoming increasingly aware and critical of manipulative marketing, either actual or perceived.

Marketing’s Message: CONSUME

The message most marketing is driving home to the consumer is MORE IS BETTER. While this is a fallacy, the marketer’s job is to create more and more desire linking satisfaction or fulfillment to their product or service, to continuously consume.

In The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, Barry Schwartz explores the world of excess and its impact on our daily lives. In a local supermarket, he found over 30,000 grocery items available, including 285 varieties of cookies. He concluded that having too many choices is bewildering, erodes our psychological well-being, and becomes restrictive rather than freeing (Schwartz, 2005).

So, in fact, this culture of consumerism is in a crisis of sorts. Product and service images come rushing towards us from every channel of media available, print, web, movies, tv, mail, email, and others. The message is clear and in many ways enticing. BUY! This onslaught has effected us and our culture. We have become a nation of consumers.

“If I were dictator of my own small island, it’s not capitalism that I would get rid of, it’s marketing. That ever-present force telling us we should be more beautiful, happier, drunker, skinnier, hipper, and whatever else it takes more money to attain.” ~ David “Oso” Sasaki

The Future of Consumerism

Internet marketing continues to develop forums for making the strong voice of consumers heard. Dee Dee Gordon, founder of Look-Look, an online trend tracker, focuses on the younger demographic, those 14 – 30. She is a key contributor to product development. She provides the voice for this younger digital generation by gathering data about their needs, wants, habits, and lifestyles, listening to them and describing their world.

Marketing will continue to be a major influence on our decisions. The more we understand our own motivations as well as the marketing techniques used by professionals, the more discerning we will become.

Source: catherineaseo.blogspot.com

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Marketing Methods and Trends – What’s New for 2011?

We are one year into a new decade and we have all seen the shift in how we market and reach consumers. In order to be efficient in marketing, it’s important to realize what will work and what marketing methods are being left by the wayside. Now, with that being said please understand that my statement of trends is broad and may not reach your specific demographic. For example, if you serve a senior market a yellow page may very well still bring in customers for you, but if your customer is under the age of 60 it’s best to put those dollar elsewhere.

This year there are five marketing methods and trends that I’ll be watching with a close eye. We’ve seen many changes over the last few years and this year will be no different. Trends and methods that I’ll be watching closely this year include:

 

 

 

 

Mobile Marketing

In a report done by CTIA Wireless Association it was reported that 250+ million Americans carry mobile phones – that’s over 80% of the nations population. Mobile applications will continue to be developed and smartphones and tablet PCs will remain a part of our daily lives. It’s no longer just about mobile access to email, messaging, calendars and websites. We will see more location based services, mobile gaming, applications, and event-based mobile marketing. We’ve been inundated with new technology from Apple’s iPhone, iPad and Google’s Android integration. I guarantee it won’t stop there, we will continue to see mobile marketing innovations throughout 2011 and beyond. We will see new devices, faster speeds, and location based technologies integrated with one another. If you are a marketer and you’ve not explored the avenue of mobile marketing, this is your year. Get on the bus or get left behind.

Social Marketing Integration
In 2010 companies began to take social media marketing seriously and because of that we saw social media explode as a marketing tool. This year we will begin to see companies integrate social media into their overall marketing plan, which is how it should have been done in the first place, but better late than never. We will see social media expand from a tool used primarily for customer service and brand management to being used to collect customer data and enable better target marketing of products and services that those customer are interested.

Traditional Marketing Continues to Diminishes
This is always a touchy subject, because there are so many that don’t want to say goodbye to the traditional marketing. Interactive or real-time marketing is easy to measure, engage and gain real time statistics that allows us to change a marketing message quickly. Customers are continuing to go online to search for information and in return making their purchases online. It’s important that marketers move their marketing dollars to where the consumers are and right now that’s making a gigantic shift to online. Internet marketing enables us to reach targeted audiences online, advertising costs are lower and they are easier to measure. What’s not to love about interactive marketing? Overall marketing budgets will continue to shift to a higher spend online and the traditional marketing spend will continue to diminish.

Consumers Will Determine Value
In today’s economy consumers are watching their pennies and because of this they will only spend on purchases that they consider to be of value. They will continue to seek value in every dollar spent and they will determine whether it’s value, not you. Consumers no longer purchase just because an item is on sale, rather they will justify every dollar spent. This means you must marketing the value of your product or service in order to get consumers to open their wallets – if there is no value, they simply will not purchase.

Regulations Abound
This is a trend that makes many of us as marketers anxious. It’s been apparent in the last six months that the FTC is looking at regulating the online industry. We started a few years ago with disclosures for blog reviews and paid endorsements. As recent as last week we saw rules passed regarding Net Neutrality and the FTC exploring a “Do Not Track” mechanism that would regulate the tracking of consumer behavior online and the calculation of data. I’m not sure how this will play out in the next year and beyond, but I do believe we will see regulations implemented when it comes to the internet industry and many of those regulations will affect us as marketers.

Relationships will Drive Loyalty and Sales
I listed this last year, but I believe it will still hold true in 2011. Customers want to know they matter to you and your staff. They evaluate now more than ever how they are treated, whether or not your business cares about their satisfaction. Gone are the days that they just purchase out of convenience. If you can give the best customer care, you will find that you will create consumers that are loyal to you, regardless of whether or not you have the least expensive price. They realize that in tough economic times their loyalty to you could be the life or death of your business and that’s often why they will go out of their way to spend their hard-earned dollars in your place of business – if you have helped in creating loyalty by giving them extraordinary care.

Source: Marketing.about.com By 

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How to Define your Target Market

To build a solid foundation for your business, you must first identify your typical customer and tailor your marketing pitch accordingly.

With the current state of the economy, having a well-defined target market is more important than ever. No one can afford to target everyone. Small businesses can effectively compete with large companies by targeting a niche market.

Many businesses say they target “anyone interested in my services.” Some may say they target small business owners, homeowners, or stay-at-home moms. All of these targets are too general.

Targeting a specific market does not mean that you have to exclude people that do not fit your criteria from buying from you. Rather, target marketing allows you to focus your marketing dollars and brand message on a specific market that is more likely to buy from you than other markets. This is a much more affordable, efficient, and effective way to reach potential clients and generate business.

For example, an interior design company could choose to market to homeowners between the ages of 35-65 with incomes of $150,000+ in the Baton RougeLouisiana, market. To define the market even further, the company could choose to target only those interested in kitchen and bath remodeling and traditional styles. This market could be broken down into two niches: parents on the go and retiring baby boomers.

With a clearly defined target audience, it is much easier to determine where and how to market your company. Here are some tips to help you define your target market.

How to Define Your Target Market: Look at Your Current Customer Base

Who are your current customers, and why do they buy from you? Look for common characteristics and interests. Which ones bring in the most business? It is very likely that other people like them could also benefit from your product/service.

Dig Deeper: Upselling: Dig Deeper Into Your Customer Base

How to Define Your Target Market: Check Out Your Competition

Who are your competitors targeting? Who are their current customers? Don’t go after the same market. You may find a niche market that they are overlooking.

Dig Deeper: In Praise of Niche Marketing

How to Define Your Target Market: Analyze Your Product/Service

Write out a list of each feature of your product or service. Next to each feature, list the benefits they provide (and the benefits of those benefits). For example, a graphic designer offers high quality design services. The resulting benefit is a professional company image. A professional image will attract more customers because they see the company as professional and trustworthy. So ultimately, the benefit of high quality design is to gain more customers and make more money.

Once you have your benefits listed, make a list of people who have a need that your benefit fulfills. For example, a graphic designer could choose to target businesses interested in increasing their client base. While this is still too general, you now have a base to start from.

Dig Deeper: How to Conduct Market Research

How to Define Your Target Market: Choose Specific Demographics to Target

Figure out not only who has a need for your product or service, but also who is most likely to buy it. Think about the following factors:

    • Age
    • Location
    • Gender
    • Income level
    • Education level
    • Marital or family status
    • Occupation
    • Ethnic background

Dig Deeper: Why Demographics Are Crucial to Your Business

How to Define Your Target Market: Consider the Psychographics of Your Target

Psychographics are more personal characteristics of a person, including:

    • Personality
    • Attitudes
    • Values
    • Interests/hobbies
    • Lifestyles
    • Behavior

Determine how your product or service will fit into your target’s lifestyle. How and when will they use the product? What features are most appealing to them? What media do they turn to for information? Do they read the newspaper, search online, or attend particular events?

Dig Deeper: Understanding How Your Customers Think

How to Define You Target Market: Evaluate Your Decision

Once you’ve decided on a target market, be sure to consider these questions:

    • Are there enough people that fit my criteria?
    • Will my target really benefit from my product/service? Will they see a need for it?
    • Do I understand what drives my target to make decisions?
    • Can they afford my product/service?
    • Can I reach them with my message? Are they easily accessible?

Don’t break your target down too far! Remember, you can have more than one niche market. Consider if your marketing message should be different for each niche market. If you can reach both niches effectively with the same message, then maybe you have broken down your market too far. Also, if you find that there are only 50 people that fit all of your criteria, maybe you should reevaluate your target. The trick is to find that perfect balance.

You may be asking, “How do I find all this information?” Try searching online for research others have done on your target. Search for magazine articles and blogs that talk about your target market or that talk to your target market. Search for blogs and forums where people in your target market communicate their opinions. Look for survey results, or consider conducting a survey of your own. Ask your current customers for feedback.

Defining your target market is the hard part. Once you know who you are targeting, it is much easier to figure out which media you can use to reach them and what marketing messages will resonate with them. Instead of sending direct mail to everyone in your zipcode, you can send only to those who fit your criteria. Save money and get a better return on investment by defining your target audience.

Dig Deeper: How to Find New Customers and Increase Sales

Source: Inc.com By Mandy Porta

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How to Conduct Market Research

A guide to using market research to understand who your customers are and what they want.

If you don’t know your customer, then you don’t know your business. You won’t know how to respond if you see changes in your sales patterns. And because it’s so hard to hang on to customers you don’t know intimately, you will forever be chasing new ones.

Unfortunately, though most business owners like to think they know their customers, many are really only guessing. And when it comes to forecasting sales — in fact, when it comes to virtually every aspect of business planning — an empirical understanding beats gut instinct almost every time. Now is the time to get the facts.

Professional market researchers generally divide their work into qualitative studies (interviews and focus groups, with free-flowing and open-ended discussions) and quantitative studies (usually surveys). In a perfect world, you would probably do both, using qualitative research to create a survey, the results of which might in turn be interpreted using another focus group. Given limited resources, though, it generally makes sense to go quantitative. After all, says Steve Sprague, a marketing consultant in MarionIowa, “some data — any data — is better than none.”

Building a better Survey

1. Define Your Survey Target

First, identify the customers to survey. In general, it makes sense to focus on your best customers. “You want to look at the upper 60 percent of your customers by sales,” according to Sprague. Naturally, this is easiest for companies that track purchases and customers individually: Rank your customers by sales and lop off the bottom 40 percent. Alternatively, your sales or accounts receivable staff ought to know who your most reliable buyers are.

Retail shops and other establishments in which purchases are small and buyers tend to remain anonymous may have to settle for a smaller sample from a broader range of customers. But even these businesses can identify their best customers by encouraging customers to fill out a postage-paid postcard with very basic information or by asking them at the register for a Zip code, which can then be used to create a demographic profile. (See “Decoding Demographics.”) You might also institute a frequent-customer program, in which you offer a discount or other incentive in exchange for a small amount of personal information and an opportunity to contact the customer later. Newsletters and e-mail updates are also an opportunity to identify whom to contact later; ditto the prize drawing that requires a business card to enter.

Sometimes you will want to study specific customers. If, say, sales are flagging, you might study lapsed customers. “Identifying characteristics of your attrition market may help you develop new customers and clients,” notes Nancy Ulrich, a marketing research consultant in suburban JacksonvilleFlorida.

2. Decide on a Format
There are basically three ways to administer a survey: by mail, by phone, or online. A highly personalized letter is best when the survey population is hard to reach (physicians, say, or senior executives). A phone interview serves well for complex and probing questions that demand interaction between interviewer and subject, but it normally requires professional assistance. Most businesses, though, will do very well with an online survey. Many survey companies (Zoomerang.com, for one) offer inexpensive tools and complex branched questions, in which a specific response to one query generates a specific follow-up. And they are fast — you can see results in real time.

Experts say that a written survey should take from five to 15 minutes to complete. Divide your questions between customer satisfaction and customer demographics, weighted toward the former. And keep it short, says Sprague, who includes fewer than 10 questions when he writes surveys for his clients. “By limiting the number of questions, you improve the response rate,” he says. “And it forces you to think about what’s important.”

Be personal, and begin by praising your customer and highlighting the importance of the survey. At the end of the survey, you should offer some sort of reward or incentive — the longer the survey, the more generous the reward.

3. Probe Customer Satisfaction
When writing survey questions, take care to avoid introducing a bias that telegraphs the answers you hope to receive. Avoid trade jargon or abbreviations, or at least make sure they are well defined.

Ask open-ended questions. These let respondents ruminate about what they like about your company and what might improve the relationship. Be sure, says Ulrich, that the text boxes allow space for lengthy responses. Follow these with a multipart rating question and a corresponding multipoint scale to review your business’s specific processes. Ulrich believes that respondents more easily understand descriptive words (excellent, fair, poor, etc.) than a numbered scale.

Calculate your net promoter score. Ask respondents how likely, on a scale from 0 to 10, they are to recommend your company, product, or service to others. The net promoter score is derived by subtracting the percentage of “detractors” (customers who rate the business from 0 to 6) from the percentage of “promoters” (who rate the company 9 or 10). The greater the difference, the more likely that your company can convert the enthusiasm of current customers into new customers. Sites like Net Promoter (netpromoter.com) offer more information about these scores and comparisons with leading companies. Or simply view your score as a useful general indicator of your customers’ feelings about your product or service.

Ask for suggestions. Sprague likes to conclude the customer satisfaction portion of a survey with a query like: “What could we do to make your next experience with us extraordinary?” “It stretches their mind and your mind,” he says. “It’s going to help you think of things you haven’t thought of before.”

4. Dig for Demographics
The demographic information you seek will depend on which attributes drive your business — these may include age, gender, marital status, educational attainment, household income, and leisure pursuits. Some of these are sensitive topics, and you don’t always need to broach them. For instance, if you know a customer’s Zip code, you can get a rough idea about income and education. If you know the address, you can refine that further by sorting customers into what are called census block groups, says Jeffrey DeBellis, director of marketing and research services at the University of North Carolina‘s Small Business and Technology Development Center. (See “Decoding Demographics.”)

When your customers are businesses, you want information about their size by number of employees and revenue. (If your customers are reluctant to share that information, formulate the responses as a series of ranges.) Also, try to get the NAICS (or North American Industry Classification System) or SIC (or Standard Industry Classification, which has been replaced by the NAICS) code. This can help you identify similar companies in the area.

5. Test the Survey First
Before you make the survey available to your customers, ask family members and friends to test it for time and clarity, and whether the questions mean what you intend them to mean and are free of bias and the like.

Using the Data

Once you tabulate the results (which happens almost immediately with e-survey programs), patterns should emerge. “If you have 20 answers, and you don’t see definite trends, then you probably don’t have enough data,” says Sprague. You could try to resurvey, using the existing results to write more probing and targeted questions, or you could convene a focus group. Focus groups are also useful for interpreting the results.

Focus, focus, focus. For focus-group testing, it is smart to engage experienced marketing consultants, who will be adept at moderating the conversation. For one thing, your subjects will probably be more reticent if you or your top sales executive is conducting the session. “With a trained focus-group facilitator, you’re going to have someone who will generally script the experience up front,” says Ulrich. Moreover, “experienced facilitators develop a certain amount of intuition when something’s up,” sensing when the dynamic has changed and able to steer the conversation in a new direction if necessary.

The “aha” moment. Ulrich recommends that once you have collected all the data, “find one or two ‘aha’ ideas and implement them immediately. Make sure they’re visible and that they impact the greatest number of people in a positive way.” This will show, she says, that you have been listening to the needs and concerns of your customers — which, any great salesperson will tell you, is half the job.

Decoding Demographics

The Web offers databases and automated services that can help make sense of the survey data you collect. Some are free, but the most useful involve fees or subscriptions. Check with your public library and local “economic gardening” organizations — such as Small Business Development Centers, chambers of commerce, and economic development groups — to see if they offer free or discounted access.

To check the demographics behind your customers’ Zip codes, go toesri.com/data/esri_data/index.html, a site operated by the software developer ESRI. Also visit mybestsegments.com, a site operated by the demographic profiler Claritas. Both services are free teasers; more detailed information will cost you.

Census block group data are available from ESRI (esri.com/industries) and Pitney Bowes Business Insight (pbinsight.com).

Rutgers University Libraries offers an extensive list of online market research resources at www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/rr_gateway/research_guides/
busi/markres.shtml
.

 

Source: Inc.com By Robb Mandelbaum

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