Demographics are the most recent statistical characteristics of a population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

. These types of data are used widely in sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 (and especially in the subfield of demography
Demography is the statistical study of human population. It can be a very general science that can be applied to any kind of dynamic human population, that is, one that changes over time or space...

), public policy
Public policy
Public policy as government action is generally the principled guide to action taken by the administrative or executive branches of the state with regard to a class of issues in a manner consistent with law and institutional customs. In general, the foundation is the pertinent national and...

, and marketing
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments...

. Commonly examined demographics include gender, race, age, disabilities, mobility, home ownership, employment status, and even location. Demographic trends describe the historical changes in demographics in a population over time (for example, the average age of a population may increase or decrease over time). Both distributions and trends of values within a demographic variable are of interest. Demographics are about the population of a region and the culture of the people there.

Demographic profiles in marketing

Marketers typically combine several variables to define a demographic profile
Demographic profile
A demographic or demographic profile is a term used in marketing and broadcasting, to describe a demographic grouping or a market segment...

. A demographic profile (often shortened to "a demographic") provides enough information about the typical member of this group to create a mental picture of this hypothetical aggregate. For example, a marketer might speak of the single, female
Female is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, which produces non-mobile ova .- Defining characteristics :The ova are defined as the larger gametes in a heterogamous reproduction system, while the smaller, usually motile gamete, the spermatozoon, is produced by the male...

, middle-class, age 18 to 24, college educated demographic.

Marketing researchers typically have two objectives in this regard: first to determine what segments or subgroups exist in the overall population; and secondly to create a clear and complete picture of the characteristics of a typical member of each of segments. Once these profiles are constructed, they can be used to develop a marketing strategy and marketing plan
Marketing plan
A marketing plan may be part of an overall business plan.Solid marketing strategy is the foundation of a well-written marketing plan. While a marketing plan contains a list of actions, a marketing plan without a sound strategic foundation is of little use....

. The five types of demographics for marketing are age, gender, income level, race and ethnicity.

Generational cohorts

A generational cohort has been defined as "the group of individuals (within some population definition) who experience the same event within the same time interval". The notion of a group of people bound together by the sharing of the experience of common historical events developed in the early 1920s. Today the concept has found its way never ough well known phrases like "baby boomer
Baby boomer
A baby boomer is a person who was born during the demographic Post-World War II baby boom and who grew up during the period between 1946 and 1964. The term "baby boomer" is sometimes used in a cultural context. Therefore, it is impossible to achieve broad consensus of a precise definition, even...

" and "Generation X
Generation X
Generation X, commonly abbreviated to Gen X, is the generation born after the Western post–World War II baby boom ended. While there is no universally agreed upon time frame, the term generally includes people born from the early 1960's through the early 1980's, usually no later than 1981 or...


The United Kingdom has a series of four national birth cohort studies, the first three spaced apart by 12 years: the 1946 National Survey of Health and Development, the 1958 National Child Development Study
National Child Development Study
The National Child Development Study is a continuing, multi-disciplinary longitudinal study which follows the lives of about 17,000 people born in Great Britain in a certain week in 1958.-History:...

, the 1970 British Cohort Study
1970 British Cohort Study
The 1970 British Cohort Study is a continuing, multi-disciplinary longitudinal survey monitoring the development of babies born in the UK in one particular week in April 1970.-History:...

, and the Millennium Cohort Study
Millennium Cohort Study
The Millennium Cohort Study is a longitudinal survey conducted by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at the University of London, following the lives of a sample of about 19,000 babies born in the UK in the year 2000–2001.-History:...

, begun much more recently in 2000. These have followed the lives of samples of people (typically beginning with around 17,000 in each study) for many years, and are still continuing. As the samples have been drawn in a nationally representative way, inferences can be drawn from these studies about the differences between four distinct generations of British people in terms of their health, education, attitudes, childbearing and employment patterns. The last three are run by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies

Criticisms and qualifications of demographic profiling

Demographic profiling is essentially an exercise in making generalizations about groups of people. As with all such generalizations many individuals within these groups will not conform to the profile - demographic information is aggregate and probabilistic information about groups, not about specific individuals. Critics of demographic profiling argue that such broad-brush generalizations can only offer such limited insight and that their practical usefulness is debatable. However, if the conclusions drawn are statistically valid and reproducible, these criticisms are not as well founded.

Most demographic information is also culturally based. The generational cohort information above, for example, applies primarily to North America (and to a lesser extent to Western Europe) and it may be unfruitful to generalize conclusions more widely as different nations face different situations and potential challenges.

See also

  • Demographic economics
    Demographic economics
    Demographic economics or population economics is the application of economics to demography, the study of human populations, including size, growth, density, distribution, and vital statistics.Analysis includes economic determinants and consequences of:...

  • Demographic transition
    Demographic transition
    The demographic transition model is the transition from high birth and death rates to low birth and death rates as a country develops from a pre-industrial to an industrialized economic system. The theory is based on an interpretation of demographic history developed in 1929 by the American...

  • Demographic dividend
    Demographic dividend
    The demographic dividend is a rise in the rate of economic growth due to a rising share of working age people in a population. This usually occurs late in the demographic transition when the fertility rate falls and the youth dependency rate declines. During this demographic window of opportunity,...

  • Demographic gift
    Demographic gift
    Demographic gift is a term in demographics used to describe the initially favorable effect of falling fertility rates on the age dependency ratio, the fraction of children and aged as compared to that of the working population.-Overview:...

  • Demographic window
    Demographic window
    Demographic window is defined to be that period of time in a nation's demographic evolution when the proportion of population of working age group is particularly prominent. This occurs when the demographic architecture of a population becomes younger and the percentage of people able to work...

  • Demographic trap
    Demographic trap
    According to the Encyclopedia of International Development, the term demographic trap is used by demographers "to describe the combination of high fertility and declining mortality in developing countries, resulting in a period of high population growth rate ." High fertility combined with...

  • Firmographics
    Firmographics are the characteristics of an organization especially when used to segment markets in market research. What demographics are to people, firmographics are to organizations....

  • Consumer behaviour
    Consumer behaviour
    Consumer behaviour is the study of when, why, how, and where people do or do not buy a product. It blends elements from psychology, sociology, social anthropology and economics. It attempts to understand the buyer decision making process, both individually and in groups...

  • Marketing research
    Marketing research
    Marketing research is "the function that links the consumer, customer, and public to the marketer through information — information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve...

  • Market segment
    Market segment
    Market segmentation is a concept in economics and marketing. A market segment is a sub-set of a market made up of people or organizations with one or more characteristics that cause them to demand similar product and/or services based on qualities of those products such as price or function...

  • Workforce Planning
    Workforce planning
    Workforce Planning is a continual process used to align the needs and priorities of the organisation with those of its workforce to ensure it can meet its legislative, regulatory, service and production requirements and organizational objectives...

  • Social surveys:
    • General Social Survey
      General Social Survey
      The General Social Survey is a sociological survey used to collect data on demographic characteristics and attitudes of residents of the United States. The survey is conducted face-to-face with an in-person interview by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, of a...

    • ALLBUS
    • Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP)
    • Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID)
      Panel Study of Income Dynamics
      The Panel Study of Income Dynamics is the world’s longest running household panel survey. The PSID is a longitudinal panel survey of United States families that measures economic, social, and health factors over the life course and across generations...

    • European Social Survey
      European social survey
      The European Social Survey is a social scientific endeavour to map the attitudes, beliefs and behaviour patterns of the various populations in Europe.-History:The ESS was initiated by the European Science Foundation...

    • World Values Survey
      World Values Survey
      The World Values Survey is a global research project that explores people’s values and beliefs, how they change over time and what social and political impact they have. It is carried out by a worldwide network of social scientists who, since 1981, have conducted representative national surveys in...

Further reading

  • Klauke, A. (2000) Coping with Changing Demographics An analysis of the effect of changing demographic patterns on school enrollments and education.
  • Meredith, G., Schewe, C., and Haim, A. (2002), Managing by defining moments: Innovative strategies for motivating 5 very different generational cohorts, Hungry Minds Inc., New York, 2002, ISBN 0-7645-5412-3
  • Weber, Lars 2010: Demographic Change and Economic Growth - Simulation on Growth Models Physica. ISBN 978-3790825893

External links

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