Demographics are characteristics of a population. Characteristics such as age, income, services used, type of client, hourly vs. salaried, years of experience, location, type of purchase or membership level are all examples of demographics that are used in surveys.
In designing a survey, decisions must be made about who to survey and about how to breakdown overall survey responses into meaningful groups of respondents. Both of these types of decisions are based on demographic considerations.
Who to Survey
In the first instance, who to survey, the decisions are based on the focus of the survey itself. So for instance in designing a Customer Satisfaction Survey for a Resort, it might be decided that only summer guests or those guests who use the spa or golf facilities will be surveyed. This is an upfront decision that then dictates who receives the actual survey.
Breaking Down Responses Meaningfully
In the second instance, the meaningful breakdown of survey respondents into groups, the survey data can be separated by various data cuts based on information that is known or can be gathered about the respondents themselves. So again using the Customer Satisfaction Survey for a Resort mentioned above, being able to group the responses from an individual guest with others who used the spa facilities, the golf facilities or both might be important. It might also be meaningful to know if this respondent is a repeat guest and/or a member of the guest loyalty program. Age might be useful. The number of times the guest had visited the property might be important as well. So each of these – which services used, repeat or not, member of the guest loyalty program, age and number of visits – all of these could be included as demographic questions on the survey.
Getting Actionable Information
While it might seem that asking lots of demographic questions will give the greatest opportunity to search for meaningful patterns in the data, asking too many such questions can backfire. Some respondents may be concerned that answering a lot of demographic questions might compromise their confidentiality. Others might perceive it as an invasion of privacy. Think carefully during the design process about which demographics are the most critical to your ability to make better business decisions and improve your business; which demographics will truly give you actionable information.