Imagine cooking a meal without knowing the ingredients in the recipe. Or building your dream home – minus a house plan. That’s what a survey feels like without demographic survey questions.
In other words, demographic information are vital pieces of the survey puzzle. When they are put in place, we get insights into who our audience is, what their interests are, and the choices they are likely to make. This information is helpful for a wide variety of purposes from marketing strategy to urban planning.
In this article, we’ll talk about:
- What are demographic questions?
- 10 types of survey questions about demographics
- Why do we ask about demographics on a survey?
- How to ask survey questions about demographics?
- Best practices for asking demographic data questions
- What can you do with demographic data?
What is a demographic survey question?
Asking for personal information is always awkward. But demographic survey questions help fish out personal information quickly and painlessly.
This personal information, in bulk, is what survey researchers call demographic information, and it helps them visualize the people who filled out their surveys. Demographic information examples include income, religion, political beliefs, and sexual orientation.
76% of organizations say that demographic surveys are crucial in helping them make informed decisions.
You may have noticed the number of demographic questions to choose from when searching online. But how do you know which one to ask? After all, your respondents have only a little time to spare, and they will not finish if you overload them with questions. So, in the next step, we’ll talk about the 10 best demographic survey questions you need to ask.
If you are searching for a demographic survey that will help you collect 40% more survey responses, check out this demographic survey template from SurveySparrow.
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10 best demographic survey questions to ask in 2024
- Household composition
- Employment status
- Profession/Job Role
Age is one of the shortcuts to predicting your target group’s preferences. For example, let’s say that your audience are teenagers. Their preferred social media channels will include TikTok and Snapchat. But if your customers are close to their fifties, they might be more comfortable with Facebook.
If you’re new on the market, asking about age is a given because you’ll want to know how old the respondent is, and whether they fit your target group. However, people might not feel comfortable revealing their exact age. So some diplomatic ways to ask are by using age ranges instead or requesting their date of birth.
To be clear, ethnicity is different from race. Race refers to the physical traits of a group, like hair type and skin color, while ethnicity also includes cultural traits like tribal affiliation, nationality, religion, language, and traditions.
Ethnicity helps you figure out how to communicate with your audience because a person’s ethnicity can influence their responses. For this demographic survey question, it’s a good idea to add an “Other – please specify” answer choice. This option gives respondents the freedom to self-identify. It also saves you from the impossible task of including all ethnic groups – six hundred and fifty at the last count.
While gender is a sensitive issue, there are certain cases where it is not only required but can also be helpful. For example, at SurveySparrow, gender is irrelevant. We are a survey software; anyone can sign up for it. But a footwear company wants to know the gender of their target audience for product reasons. So do surveys for diversity and inclusion initiatives, as well as medical surveys.
So, use this one wisely, and make sure you’re using the right lingo. Gender is a loaded topic at the best of times, and a simple way to be more inclusive is to include an ‘I prefer not to say’ or an ‘Other’ option.
Household composition is a description of a household according to certain characteristics like number and type of occupants, relationship structure, presence or absence of kids, average income and so on.
As a demographic survey question, it matters because a person’s purchase habits can be influenced by the people (or lack thereof) in their home. For example, married couples with kids will respond differently from cohabiting couples. What’s more, the number of kids and their age ranges will also influence the types of purchases. So this demographic survey question can help you spot the potential market size for certain goods and services.
A person’s employment status affects their buying power, obviously. But from an organization’s point of view, it also determines the type of benefits an employee is entitled to. For instance, a full-time employee will be afforded certain legal protections that a part-timer doesn’t get.
When you craft this question, it should ideally reflect today’s post-pandemic job scenario of remote work, online work and gig jobs. You can also enable respondents to select more than one answer. Depending on their situation, they could be juggling two or three jobs to make ends meet.
Knowing where your audience is can open up opportunities for location-based marketing. Who knows, you might also discover customers in places you wouldn’t expect!
Location data also offers something else – an opportunity for businesses to improve customer experience continuously.
Imagine you’re wandering through a store when your phone buzzes. It’s an alert from the store. What does it say? It’s a promotional advertisement for items in the aisle you’re in.
This is what’s called beacon marketing. Using location data, retailers send customers targeted ads for items in their immediate vicinity.
Kirill Tšernov, Qminder
Soldier, sailor, tinker, or tailor? Or perhaps a wily job seeker? You probably are if you are have been spending a lot of time on Glassdoor lately. You’ll know, then, that Glassdoor is a great reference point for negotiating your next pay. With a quick search, you can find out the average salary in your area for a particular job role.
But job role data isn’t just useful for benchmarking salaries. It can also help B2B customer outreach, and allow marketers to target the right people. What’s more, job role data also helps HR people identify the skills and abilities necessary for that role.
Does your marketing speak your customer’s language? If not, chances are that they will miss out on vital information, or get things just plain lost in translation.
Also, if your business operates globally, it helps consumers if you ask about their preferred language. For example, you’re a sustainable furniture brand based in Toronto. But you discovered a large community for your products in Sweden. You can translate your EU landing pages and key product pages to Swedish.
Knowing your audience’s spending power has obvious benefits for businesses. With this information, you can customize the pricing, branding and packaging of your services.
Like the age question, you can phrase the answers as ranges to encourage more responses.
This is a vital demographic survey question because it provides insights into the kind of work that a respondent may be doing.
The key word is may. One’s career path may not necessarily reflect one’s education. So, for more meaningful data, it’s best to pitch this question with the job role question above.
Why do we ask demographic questions?
- To determine the factors influencing a respondent’s answers, interests, and choices.
- Determining how well your respondents represent your target audience.
- To compare the survey results against what is known about the total population. That helps you confirm if you reached the right audience.
- To gather key profiling information that will let you visualize the ideal customer.
- To compare results between sub-groups of respondents (employers vs employees, enterprises vs startups, etc.) to see if, and how they differ. With tools like SurveySparrow’s user grouping and dashboards, you can visually compare sub-groups to see how the data varies.
- Get a read on your respondents’ characteristics to target them with better messaging.
- I am customizing positioning and products to a specific user group.
- To determine the next step for development. This is a standard practice in business, financial investments and community development.
How to write demographic survey questions: Best practices
Here’s a simplified guide to help you design effective demographic survey questions:
1. Keep it clear and concise
- Use simple and understandable language.
- Avoid technical jargon and complex words.
- Keep the questions and the options brief and to the point.
2. Be specific and relevant
- Only ask what is absolutely necessary for your research.
- Make sure every question aligns with the purpose of your survey.
- Every question should serve a clear purpose in your analysis.
3. Make it inclusive and respectful
- Offer diverse and inclusive answer options
- Be mindful and respectful of cultural differences and sensitivities
- Avoid any biased or leading questions
4. Use multiple-choice questions
- This allows for quicker responses
- Limit the number of choices to avoid overwhelming respondents
- Always include ‘Prefer not to say’ or ‘Other’ options
5. Arrange questions logically
- Start with more general questions and proceed to more specific ones
- Group similar questions together to maintain a logical flow
- Consider the progression of questions from the respondent’s viewpoint
6. Maintain privacy and anonymity
- Assure respondents about the confidentiality of their responses.
- Avoid asking unnecessarily personal or sensitive questions.
- Allow respondents the option to skip questions they are uncomfortable answering.
7. Pre-test the Survey
- Run the survey on a small group to identify and rectify any unclear or ambiguous questions.
- Make necessary adjustments based on the feedback received.
- Ensure that every question is understood as intended by all respondents.
8. Balance demographics with other questions
- Don’t overload your survey with only demographic questions.
- Intersperse demographic questions with other types of questions to maintain respondent engagement.
9. Keep it optional
- Let respondents decide whether they want to answer demographic questions.
- Clearly indicate which questions are mandatory and which are optional.
10. Encourage honesty
- Create a neutral an non-judgmental environment.
- Remind respondents that there are no right or wrong answers and encourage them to be truthful.
Here’s the TL;DR version:
When designing demographic survey questions, the goal is to create a seamless, respectful, and insightful experience for the respondents.
Whether you are a seasoned researcher or a beginner, platforms like SurveySparrow can be invaluable in crafting surveys that are clear, concise, and respondent-friendly, turning the cumbersome task of surveying into a delightful experience for both creators and respondents.
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What can you do with demographic data?
Demographic survey questions have various applications:
|Understanding the demographics of your target market helps tailor your products or services to their specific needs.
|Marketing & Advertising
|Demographic surveys help create targeted ad campaigns to reach the right audience.
|In healthcare, it’s crucial for patient care and research to know age, gender, and other demographic factors.
|In political surveys, demographics help analyze voter behavior and preferences.
|Demographics inform school planning, resource allocation, and education policy decisions.
|Governments use demographic data to plan social services like healthcare, housing, and welfare.
|Employers use it for workforce planning, diversity initiatives, and understanding employee needs.
|Demographics guide nonprofit organizations in serving their target communities effectively.
|Media and Entertainment
|Demographic data like location, age and previously watched content help shape programming to suit audience preferences.
|City planners use demographic data to design infrastructure and public services.
10 benefits of demographic survey questions
- Enhanced Understanding: Demographic questions provide insights into people’s identities, preferences, and needs, enabling the creation of relevant products and policies.
- Tailored Solutions: Understanding the audience allows for customized products, services, and messages that resonate well with their specific needs and preferences.
- Informed Decisions: Demographic data guides smarter, more informed choices, improving life for diverse groups.
- Demand-driven Creation: Knowledge of age, lifestyle, and preferences helps companies develop products and services that people genuinely desire and use.
- Effective Communication: Using demographic insights ensures communication in a language and tone that connects with the target audience.
- Resource Optimization: Correct demographic information directs resources to where they are most needed and impactful.
- Trend Identification: Analyzing demographic responses helps in spotting emerging trends and shifts in group behaviors and preferences.
- Increased Engagement: Relevant questions increase survey response rates, yielding more reliable data.
- Respect and Inclusion: Understanding diverse backgrounds enables the creation of respectful, inclusive surveys.
- Comparative Analysis: Demographic data facilitates the comparison of different groups, enhancing understanding of their behaviors and needs.
What is demographic method of data collection?
Demographic method of data collection involves gathering information about the characteristics of a population, such as age, gender, income, education, and ethnicity. This information is typically collected through surveys, questionnaires, and census data.
Are demographic questions qualitative or quantitative?
Demographic questions can be both qualitative and quantitative, depending on the type of information being collected. For example, questions about age and income are quantitative, while questions about religion and political affiliation are qualitative.
Why are demographic questions important in a survey?
Demographic questions are important in a survey because they provide valuable information about the characteristics of the survey respondents. This information can be used to segment the audience, and tailor marketing strategies and products to better meet their needs. Demographic data can also be used to identify trends and patterns in the data.
For tips to gather more meaningful information, read this guide to the 12 types of survey questions.
If you’re not sure where to start or what demographic survey questions to include, here’s a demographic survey template to give you a headstart. You can sign up for a free account to use all our templates or create your custom demographic study with SurveySparrow. Happy surveying!