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Marketing and Advertising: Home

This guide will provide resources for students on marketing, advertising, and public relations.

Target Audience and Demographics

When you start a business, you have a vision of what your product or service is going to be, but it is also important to ask yourself, “Who is going to want to pay for this?” Every business has a set of "target customers" that are more likely to be interested in its products or services, and it is important to understand their preferences and motivations when setting up your business.

Consumer analysis can help answer the two broad questions any company would like to know:

  • Who are the customers?
  • Where do they live?

Answers to these questions help identify target markets for specific products or services and advertising efforts. Demographic factors, such as age, gender, and income, and lifestyle choices, such as eating local or organic food, determine what types of products and services a person is willing to spend money on.

This guide will help you find information on target audience demographics and psychographics. Learn more about each one below and use the resources on this page to narrow your target audience.


Demographics: statistical data for a group of people, often defined by age or generation, education, gender, health, occupation & income, race, living situation, and often used to identify target audiences.

Psychographics: relates consumer lifestyles (attitudes, beliefs, loyalty, preference, public opinion) to behavior (activities, spending habits or expenditures, usage) by analyzing demographics.

Target Audience Research

Types of Customer Research:

Primary Research

  • Interviews with customers, business owners
  • Questionnaires or online surveys
  • Observing other businesses and customers
  • Competitors’ websites and social media
  • Customer review sites like YELP!
  • Work or volunteer experience in the industry

Secondary Research Resources

  • Government Data: e.g. U.S. Census
  • Library Databases
  • Articles
  • Industry Reports


U.S. Census Data: Offers basic data on the population, including age, sex, race, and home ownership in different geographic areas. The Census is updated every 10 years. 2020 data was released March 31, 2021.

American Community Survey: Updated more frequently than the U.S. Census and provides more detailed, timely data such as income, marital status, occupation, educational attainment and more. You can look at 5-year data from a specific state, county, or place.

Statista: A library database that provides users with tools for researching quantitative data. It contains statistics, studies and reports from over 18,000 sources.

From the Outlooks menu at the top, choose a market outlook and then select a particular market and region. You are provided with all information about a given market regarding: revenue trends, user trends, ARPU (Average Revenue per User), global comparison, and market indicators.

Under the Reports tab, choose Consumer Reports and then select a market/topic and region. You are provided with all information about a given market regarding: market overview, consumer/user behavior, and global comparison.

ReferenceUSA: ReferenceUSA consists of several databases that provide real-time access to 24 million businesses and 235 million consumers in the U.S. and Canada. Data sources used by ReferenceUSA include Yellow Pages, White Pages, annual reports, the US Postal Service, the US Census Bureau, and more. The database for customer research is called “U.S. Consumers/Lifestyles”

Use this guide to help you find demographic data on ReferenceUSA.

Pew Research Center: Pew is dedicated to collecting facts and producing unbiased research in a number of different areas. The internet usage reports as well as the social and demographic trends could all be valuable sources of information. For example, if you are developing a smartphone application, you could refer to the Pew’s most recent report on smartphone usage to determine which groups of people would most likely be interested in your product.

Esri Zip Code Lookup Tool: Use the Zip lookup tool to identify the top three lifestyle characteristics of a zip code. A subscription is required to access the full database.

Claritas Zip Code Look-Up Use the Zip Code Look-Up tool to find demographics for zip codes. Subscription required to access the full database.


See search results from our eBook collection on:

And check out some of our most helpful eBooks below on discovering your target audience.