Demographics Facts

Demographics studies the traits and changes in the population. Demographics measures the age, gender, educational level, ethnic background, religion, household income and makeup of a geographic location. Studying the specific characteristics of a population-the demographics-helps government leaders plan programs and facilities for the future. Business people, marketing and advertising companies, and civic leaders use demographic data, much of which is collected from the U. S. Census. The census bureau prepares the American Community Survey or ACS which provides detailed profiles for a variety of needs.

Business planners

According to ACS, businesses make extensive use of demographic information. They use the demographic, social and economic data to evaluate sites for future markets and to gage the distribution of their consumers. Census data allows them to target very specific demographics such as age, income, educational levels as well as geographic area. Some examples of information businesses might need:

  • Are there high-income families near a planned store location?
  • Has the population of a specific neighborhood gotten older or younger? Has the prevailing ethnicity changed?
  • Are there a lot of vacation homes in the area?

Many questions that a business owner might have are demographic-based questions. Having timely information can help that entrepreneur be more successful.

Marketing and advertising

Once business owners know their market, they use the information to tailor their advertising campaigns. For instance, advertisers need to know if English is the predominant language or if many people in the area speak another language primarily. A successful advertising campaign would address potential customers in their primary language. Has the income level improved or declined? If people in a particular neighborhood have improved incomes, advertisers and marketing agencies will address them differently.

Local, state and federal agencies

Leaders at all levels of government need targeted information to best serve their constituents. ACS provides data to help them, too. For instance:

  • Those serving specific populations, such as Native Americans and Alaska Natives, use the demographic data collected by the census. A tribal planner may need information to help plan health services for tribal members. Another may need information to help tribal members access educational services.
  • Leaders in rural areas could use the demographic portrait of their region to plan for future educational facilities. They may also discover patterns in their population that would alert them to the need for improved services for certain populations, such as the elderly or low-income citizens. They may notice a rise in a specific health risk such as asthma or diabetes. These leaders could also use information from the census to prepare applications for a block grant to help fund a new library.

Studying demographics gives planners and entrepreneurs an idea of the makeup of a region or even a neighborhood. By studying trends they can better plan for the future. This can help them position their agency or business to take full advantage of the coming changes.

There are dangers in generalizing about the behavior of any group of people based strictly on data. But having some information about the current population can provide useful guidance.

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