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Demographic Survey Questions: Understand Your Market Beyond Transaction

Market research 04 12
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People can be grouped on the basis of their similarities and can be distinguished on the basis of their differences. These similarities and differences arise due to age, gender, ethnicity, race, household income, place of living, educational qualifications, and a number of other parameters that are differently present in everyone. This kind of information is particularly useful for businesses as it allows them to group people as a community based on their commonalities. 

But how do these businesses get hold of this information?

Demographic survey questions are a popular method of gathering insightful data on your customer beyond the transactional data available in your system. The questions help you capture customer data that humanizes them and makes their experience personal to your brand. 

In this blog, we’ll uncover the different types of demographic questions and look into their importance and challenges.


What are demographic survey questions?

Demographic survey questions are inquiry-based questions that allow you to gather valuable information about their respondents. These are background-related and are focused on understanding the respondent according to several parameters, which helps in grading responses. 

You have to make sure that you gather all the relevant information about the respondents before doing the length of the survey, as it could lead to non-completion.

For example; 

A brand seeking to understand smartphone buying habits should include questions regarding age and income to cover every age group. 



  1. Teenagers 
  2. Adults (20 to 59)
  3. Senior citizens (60 & above)
  1. Low income 
  2. Average  
  3. High income 

This will help them in analyzing the results with pre-determined distinctions and fine –tune products to suit every category in case of a launch.

Also learn about the 4 common segmentation types.


What is the significance of demographic survey questions?


In this dynamic landscape of market research with evolving customer needs, demographic surveys can help you anticipate their needs and deliver quality experiences. 

1. Market segmentation:  

Bifurcating and understanding target markets by using valuable personal information can help businesses by treating them as separate sects in the market and serving their needs by customizing products and services to their requirements. 

  • This increases the success rate of products as they tend to be accepted quickly and leads to increased sales and revenue for the companies. 

This is based on the simple strategy that people brought up in different environments and having different experiences tend to make different choices. These choices are better served when companies focus on their individual needs instead of treating them as a group.

2. Tailoring products and services: 

Demographic survey questions help you tailor your offerings to fit the unique aspects of the target audience. Understanding the demographics allows you to create or refine products/services that resonate with customers on a personal level. 

3.Competitive advantage: 

By understanding market composition, companies can serve needs better than any other entity and so stand to benefit from gaining a greater market share. The database of demographic information allows businesses to better the quality of their customer service and, thus, increase satisfaction.

4. Targeted marketing strategies: 

One size doesn’t fit all in marketing. Capturing demographic data empowers you to create personalized strategies for each group. The surveys enable you to gather the data you need to ensure precision in targeting and amplifying the effectiveness of the marketing efforts.

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Types of demographic survey questions

Let’s look into the different types of demographic parameters in a market that you need to consider when writing your survey questions. 

1. Gender


Gender-related questions are the most basic that are asked in almost all the surveys. These questions should provide the option of ‘other’, providing a space for many recognized and unrecognized communities as well as “ prefer not to say “ if the respondent wishes not to disclose. This makes the respondent feel safe and comfortable while answering the questions that follow.

Example of a demographic survey question on gender

  1. Q) What is your gender?
  • Male 
  • Female  
  • Other (not listed ):________________
  • Prefer not to say 

The researcher can also choose to keep the question open-ended and allow the respondent to mention it themselves. This is a more inclusive approach and can easily be used without running the risk of hurting anyone’s feelings.

2. Age

This parameter is particularly useful due to variations in buying behavior, which can assist brands while approaching them. Care should be taken to use inclusive ranges in the answer options to avoid confusing the respondent.

Example of a demographic question on age 

  1. Q) Which age group do you belong to?
    • Below 18 
    • 18-30
    • 30-45
    • 45-60
    • Above 60

The researcher can modify the range of age groups as per their own convenience and understanding.

3. Place/location

Place can be used to identify the seasonal variation, relief, lifestyle, etc, of the respondent. These are factors that can shape people’s mindsets and influence their interaction with the brand and its products. 

Drop-down list-type questions are the most useful for framing such questions. These drop-down lists can be modified to list the appropriate places according to the scale on which the survey is being conducted. Otherwise, multiple-choice questions are the best alternative to receive meaningful answers.

Example of a demographic survey question on place/location

For a South American-based survey –

  1. Q) Where in South –America do you live?
    • Argentina
    • Bolivia
    • Brazil
    • Chile
    • Colombia

4. Education

This type of question helps you gain a hold on the knowledge base of the respondent. This can be of relevance for the researcher, who can then route questions based on prior answers and gain important data. 

For example, Banking companies willing to study loan requirements can understand the needs and types of education loans if a respondent is graduating or trying to pursue post-graduation by routing them to questions relating to the annual course fee, payment options, scholarship programs offered by college, etc.

Example of demographic question on education

  1. Q) What is the highest educational qualification?
    • High school
    • Graduate 
    • Postgraduate 
    • Ph. D.
    • Others ( please specify) :__________________
    • Prefer not to say 

5. Household income

Household income gives you a brief about the financial situation of the respondent. This helps the researcher study their responses as part of an income group with specific choices. 

For example, A respondent with a low household income is likely to compromise on features to buy a product that fits their budget. On the other hand, high-income groups pay less attention to cost and focus more on what the product has to offer them. This allows companies to decide upon product features, target market, pricing strategy, and incentives and offers before launching a product in the market.

Example of a demographic survey question on household income

  1. Q) What is your yearly household income?
    • Less than 2 lakh 
    • 2 lakh -4 lakh
    • 4 lakh -8 lakh 
    • 8 lakh -12 lakh 
    • 12 lakh – 15 lakh 
    • More than 15 lakh 

These ranges can be modified according to the income group that the researcher wishes to target.

6. Relationship status

A consumer who is single is most likely an independent decision maker, and their purchase behavior is focused on their need and requirements. However, a person who is engaged in a relationship will need to consider the needs and requirements of their partner before making a purchase decision. 

Example of demographic question on relationship status

  1. Q) What is your relationship status?
    • Single 
    • Married 
    • In a relationship 
    • Prefer not to say 

7. Ethnicity 

Each culture has its own traditions and values, so their approach and interaction with the brands can vary. This can also be a selling point, as certain ethnicities identify themselves more with certain brands because of shared vision and mission. 

For example, Proctor and Gamble’s “ The Talk” advertisement attracted a lot of attention and became an Emmy-winning advertisement (2018) because of its boldness and the ability to raise an important social issue of racial bias. It even launched “The Look” and “The Pause “ as part of its ad campaign to eliminate racial bias, which attracted a large amount of viewership.

Example of a demographic survey question on ethnicity

  1. Q) Which ethnicity do you identify as ?
    • Native Americans 
    • African Americans 
    • Puerto Rican
    • Hispanic and Latino American
    • Native Hawaiians 
    • Others (Please specify ) : _________________

8. Other demographic parameters

Other demographic parameters such as family composition, religion ( born into and practiced ), voting status, and language  (mother tongue and known languages) can be questioned. These questions have to be incorporated into the survey based on the relevance and the purpose of the study. 

Including unnecessary questions that do not serve the research purpose can make questionnaires long and nudge the respondent to not answer. It’s better to stick to the strategy of keeping the questionnaire concise as well as making sure the researcher gets all the information they need.

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Things to keep in mind while designing demographic survey questions

  1. Focus on relevance: Include and enquire only about that information that will serve the interest of the organization on whose behalf the research is being conducted.
  2. Define the purpose of the survey: Lay down the reason for carrying out the survey. Understand what knowledge you seek to acquire once you have completed the survey, and make sure to communicate the same to your respondents.
  3. Keep it concise: Short and crisp surveys increase completion rates. Make sure that you keep the questions to the point in order to attain maximum efficiency through quick completion. 
  4. Avoid overlapping: Design answer options in such a manner that avoids overlapping. This is a very important point as it helps to avoid ambiguity among respondents.
  5. Be respectful: Frame questions in a manner that does not offend respondents or make them feel uncomfortable while answering. Respondent mindset can impact the quality of answers, so it is better to be respectful of the respondent’s boundaries.
  6. Allow discretion: Always include options that allow the respondent to prevent disclosing a particular information if they feel it’s too personal or if they aren’t comfortable disclosing it. This is an extension of the previous point, as it shows the researcher’s respect for the respondent’s boundaries.

[Related read: Why is Market Segmentation Important?]


Overcoming challenges in demographic survey questions

While the benefits are clear, it is also important that we address the challenges. 

1. Privacy concerns

With increasing data fraud, customers are concerned about the security of their personal information. As a market researcher, you must prioritize robust data security measures to assure respondents that their information is handled with the utmost care. 

To alleviate privacy concerns, offering anonymous surveys options is key. Additionally, invest in survey software that complies with the highest standards of data security policies and ensures device security. 

2. Cultural sensitivity

A universal approach won’t work for all your respondents. It’s important that you tailor survey questions to respect and reflect diverse cultural norms, ensuring inclusivity and accurate representation. 

Steer clear of stereotypes in survey questions and foster a more authentic approach to engage with respondents.



Demographic insights provide the foundation for stratgeic decision-making. They become you guide in adapting and tailor your efforts in this evolving landscape of consumer behavior. 

Leveraging demographic survey questions helps you stay relevant and resonate with your core audience.