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Consumer Behavior: General Approach/Mindset

Covers consumer behavior, psychographics, demographics, and some statistics

Useful Key Words OR Search Terms

Here's an option if you aren't getting enough results just using the term "consumer behavior" (especially in the databases)! Please note, that some databases allow for use of search commands such as *, "xxxx  xxxx", ect. and some don't.  My default mode is usually to try it, so I will show it in the examples.  See the Search Tips tab for how to enter searches in a database (which will explain * and "xxx xxxx")

If you aren't getting enough results type the following in a single box:

"consumer behavior" OR psycographic* OR demographic* OR "target audience"     

 Use these terms in conjunction with the name of your particular company/industry/consumer group.



Helpful tips for Consumer research

Consumer Behavior research tends to take 2 approaches:

1. You want to find out how a group of consumers behaves in relation to a specific industry.

   For example, if I wanted to find out what motivates customers to buy pizza, I might do one of the following searches:

pizza AND "consumer behavior" 

restaurants and "consumer behavior"

722211 AND "consumer behavior"

Notice that I used a broader term in the 2nd example (restaurants vs. pizza) and in the 3rd example, I used the NAICS code for the fast food restaurant industry.  

Vary how you describe your industry.  I would bet that I get different results with each search example above.  

You may also want to check out the Industry/Market research guide

2. You want to find out how a group of consumers behaves in general.

For example, you want to discover the buying habits of _______.  Some options for filling in the blank: moms, teenagers, baby boomers

What you need to consider when researching this option, are the various names that can be used to describe a particular generation.

 If I wanted to research "college students," I might need to try some other variations, such as "generation y", millenials, "generation next", "net generation", "young adults", or "echo boomers" in my search. 

Remember, search engines are literal, they only return ariticles/websites that use the same word as the one you typed.

Apples to Apples

As you begin searching for consumer behavior, you may notice that different sources (analysts, articles, etc.) define their consumer groups differently.  For example, some sources may consider "young adults" to be 18-24, while another source may consider that same group to be 18-34.  It may be useful to take note of how your resources define the target audience.

Along the same lines, when you are looking at demographics, pay attention to how your source is defining geographical boundaries.  Here are 2 common geographies that are used in demographic data:

Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)- Boundaries are set by the U.S. government.  An MSA typically includes a metropolitan city and the surrounding suburban areas.

Designated Market Area (DMA)- Boundaries are set by the A.C. Nielsen company.  These boundaries are often different from MSA boundaries.

Here's a practical example:  Source #1: provides demographics for DFW metroplex (which includes Fort Worth, Dallas, & Arlington in this case)

Source #2: provides demographics for Tarrant County (which does not include Dallas)

Comparing data from source #1 and source #2 is like comparing apples to oranges because the geographic coverage is different.  It may be useful to take note of how your sources define their geography.