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Types of Market Research Data
Demographic/Socioeconomic Characteristics
One type of primary data of great interest to marketers is the subject's demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, such as age, education, occupation, marital status, sex, income, or social class. These variables are used to cross-classify the collected data and in some way make sense of it. We might be interested, for instance, in determining whether people's attitudes toward ecology and pollution are related to their level of formal education. Alternatively, a common question asked by marketers is whether the consumption of a particular product is related in any way to a person's or family's age, education, income, and so on, and if so, in what way. These are questions of market segmentation. Demographic and socioeconomic characteristics are often used to delineate market segments.

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Psychological/Life-Style Characteristics
Another type of primary data of interest to marketers is the subject's psychological and life-style characteristics in the form of personality traits, activities, interests, and values. Personality refers to the normal patterns of behavior exhibited by an individual. It represents the attributes, traits, and mannerisms that distinguish one individual from another. We often characterize people by the personality traits—aggressiveness, dominance, friendliness, sociability—they display. Marketers are interested in personality because the traits people possess would seem to be important in affecting the way consumers and others in the marketing process behave. The argument is often advanced, for example, that personality can affect a consumer's choice of stores or products or an individual's response to an advertisement or point-of-purchase display.

Similarly, it is believed that certain characteristics like extroversion or empathy are more likely to be possessed by successful than by unsuccessful salespeople. While the empirical evidence regarding the ability of personality to predict consumption behavior or salesperson success is weak, personality remains a variable dear to the hearts of marketing researchers. Personality is typically measured by one of the standard personality inventories that have been developed by psychologists.

Some authors distinguish between attitudes and opinions, while others use the terms interchangeably. Most typically attitude is used to refer to an individual's "preference, inclination, views or feelings toward some phenomenon," while opinions are "verbal expressions of attitudes." Since attitudes are typically secured from respondents by questioning, we shall not make the distinction between the terms but will treat attitudes and opinions interchangeably as representing a person's ideas, convictions, or liking with respect to a specific object or idea.

Attitude is one of the more important notions in the marketing literature, since it is generally thought that attitudes are related to behavior. Obviously, when an individual likes a product he will be more inclined to buy it than when he does not like it; when he likes one brand more than another, he will tend to buy the preferred brand. Thus, marketers are often interested in people's attitudes toward the product itself, their overall attitudes with respect to specific brands, and their attitudes toward specific aspects or features possessed by several brands.

Awareness/knowledge as used in marketing research refers to what respondents do and do not know about some object or phenomenon. For instance, a problem of considerable importance is the effectiveness of magazine ads. One measure of effectiveness is the product awareness generated by the ad, using one of the three approaches. Although all three approaches are aimed at assessing the respondent's awareness of and knowledge about the ad, there is a definite increase in retention when knowledge is measured by recognition rather than by recall and by aided rather than unaided recall. This, of course, raises the question of which method is the "most accurate." There are problems with each method. The important thing to note is that when marketers speak of a person's awareness, they often mean the individual's knowl¬edge of the advertisement. A person "very much aware" or possessing "high aware¬ness" typically knows a great deal about the ad.

A person's intentions refer to the individual's anticipated or planned future behavior. Marketers are interested in people's intentions primarily with regard to purchasing behavior. One of the better known studies regarding purchase intentions is that conducted by the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan. The center regularly conducts surveys for the Federal Reserve Board to determine the general financial condition of consumers and their outlook with respect to the state of the economy in the near future. The center asks consumers about their buying intentions for big ticket items such as appliances, automobiles, and homes during the next few months. The responses are then analyzed, and the proportion of the sample that indicates each of the following is reported:

• definite intention to buy
• probable intention to buy
• undecided
• definite intention not to buy.

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Source of Reference:
Melvin Crask, Richard J. Fox, Roy G. Stout, and R. Gene Stout, Marketing Research, Prentice Hall. You can obtain this fine book here

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