How to Ask Demographic Survey Questions like a Pro

how surveys helpWhen was the last time you created a survey but had second thoughts regarding the inclusion of demographic questions?

Yes, we all are reluctant to share our personal information on age, gender, or income. Even if the survey promises to keep it anonymous, we still have our inhibitions. So does our customer!

A demographic survey question is all about getting that sensitive personal information to understand your customer base. Questions on age, income, educational background, location reveal your customer's decision making power while purchasing your product.

With this information, you can better strategize your business based on your audience's diverse requirements.

For instance, a survey shows that over 40% of people on Facebook love to see ads that reflect their interests. Hence, prioritizing their interests will make your customers feel valued and appreciated.

Internet Ads

Source: AdEspresso

But, can you collect personal information without hurting your customers' sentiments?

Yes, definitely! In this blog, let's learn how to write demographic survey questions without being intrusive, but by being empathetic.

Read More: How to Create an Anonymous Survey

What Is a Demographic Survey and What Is It's Benefit?

Demographic surveys collect your target audience's personal details. It helps you to analyze their tastes and preferences. What is your customer’s gender? Do they prefer to buy from the local store or order online? How much do they earn? Where are they located? These demographic questions give a thorough understanding of the target market segment.

Once you know the underlying trends, it is easy to target profitable audiences as opposed to a generalistic audience. 

Also, knowing the real preferences of your audience helps you to offer them quality service. Demographic questions help you build the customer personas, thereby enabling you to understand their queries better. Remember, a happy customer is a returning customer.

With this basic understanding of demographic survey questions, let us take a look at some sample survey questions.

Must Read: 250+ Survey Question Examples

Ten Examples of Demographic Survey Questions

#1. AGE: “Age is Not Just a Number”

Age

Image: AMB Credit Consultants

Age is an essential factor to consider while conducting surveys. Your customers' age reveals crucial information like food habits, purchasing patterns, dependency, lifestyle, etc.

These details are necessary to deduce the probability of them buying your product.

For example, studies suggest that at least one person among 75% of the US population plays video games. Among these, 18-24-year-old form a large chunk. Hence, you can target 18-24-year-old with specialized marketing campaigns.

Gaming by Age

Source: Earnest

But, are you asking the right ‘age’ questions?

For instance, if you ask, "What is your age?" it is straightforward and personal. Most of the survey respondents will be reluctant to answer it.

Let’s rephrase the question in an impersonal way,

Age GroupThe age group is a convenient and non-intrusive way to frame the questions. Always give them the flexibility to not reveal their age. In this way, you can keep them engaged and prevent them from dropping off the survey.

Further, do not include the same age group in 2 different options,

  1. 18-25
  2. 25-50

Herein, a respondent could mark both (a) and (b) for age 25, resulting in the duplication of the answers.

Interesting Read: How to Create an Attractive and Engaging Survey

#2. GENDER: “What Is Your Gender?”

Gender

Source: MercatorNet

Gender preference gives a clear picture of your business trajectory. Different genders prefer a product/service for various reasons, and the reasons help you align your business costs.

For instance, LinkedIn is a popular professional networking site that connects people from different working backgrounds. As a brand, you can analyze the LinkedIn demographic data concerning 'gender' to build your business's good visibility on social media.

LinkedIn

Source: Oberlo

But, gender is a sensitive yet fundamental question in any demographic survey. Ensure that your surveyees are comfortable answering gender questions. Also, give them an option not to reveal their gender.

Demographic Question Example Based on Gender:

Demographic question example based on gendeLastly, do not confuse gender and sex. While sex is biologically defined, gender is based on self-identity. Gender brings in better clarity with a personal touch.

Interesting Read: How to Conduct Brand Awareness Surveys & What Are the Related Questions

#3. ETHNICITY: “What’s Your History?”

ETHNICITY

Source: KeyDifferences

Ethnicity questions gather information about your customer’s background: their history, culture or nationality. These queries showcase the nature of their purchasing choices. 

Different cultures have different practices that guide their decision making process. Upon understanding these choices, you can better empathize with your customer’s needs.

Let’s take a look at an example,

A study by statista gives a break up of Internet users in the US in 2019. This data is handy when you are doing market research for your telecom business. You could bring in more inclusivity by promoting your business amongst African-Americans and Hispanics.

StatistaSample Question:

Sample QuestionKeep the option open for 'nil answer.' Not all of your customers will be aware of their ethnicity. Make sure that their choices are respected.

#4. LANGUAGE: “What is Your Mother Tongue?

“To have another language is to possess a second soul.” - Charlemagne

Languages

Source: Vectorstock

Language is a significant factor that creates an instant bond between you and your customer. It is human nature to have an affinity with the same language, people, place, culture, etc.

In contrast, language differences bring forth the varying needs of your customers. If you are successful in tapping into your customers' needs through language, you can build a lifelong relationship with them.

For example, a survey by YouGov shows the various languages spoken by Americans, except English. For a survey tool-making company, this data serves as a base to build the tool in different languages other than English. With versatile languages, you can stay ahead of the competition and ensure a successful business.

Languages Spoken by AmericansSample language question in your demographic survey:

Sample Language Question for Demographic Survey

Read More: Checkout 48 Event Survey Questions To Gain Mind-Blowing Insights

#5. MARITAL STATUS: “Are You Single?”

 MARITAL STATUSMarriage is an essential yet sensitive question to include in your demographic survey. Marriage lets you know the size of your customer’s family. The number of people dependent on the customer influences their buying patterns.

Studies show that the average spending potential of a bachelor is more than that of a family. You can factor in this statistic to plan your marketing campaigns: should it be more focused on bachelors or married couples?

Average Spending PotentialSample Question:

Sample Question

#6. EDUCATION: “What’s Your Degree?”

EDUCATION

Source: The Conversation

Questions on education reveal your customer's academic background. Further, by deducing their skills, you can create an appropriate business pitch. For example, a customer with a science degree requires an analytical pitch, while an emotional pitch suits a participant from an arts background.

Case Study:

Kaggle, a machine learning and data science community, conducted a demographic survey on its customer base. This survey data reveals the customer's skill level, i.e., their aptitude for machine learning and coding. The results showcase that customer’s with masters degrees come on top, forming the target audience.

Kaggle

Source: Kaggle

Sample Question:

Sample Question for Education Survey

#7. EMPLOYMENT STATUS: "What Do You Do for a Living?"

EMPLOYMENT STATUS

Source: Urban

Your survey participant’s employment status is a crucial question to gauge their spending power. Unless they have the requisite purchasing power, they may not be in a position to buy your products. 

Further, this question requires caution. Not everyone is comfortable while answering this question, especially those searching for new jobs.

Case Study: 

KPMG, a multinational professional services network undertook a survey among the US consumers to know their employment status during COVID-19.

Here’s what they found.

KPMG Survey

Source: Forbes

As we can see from the survey, a staggering 57% of people were laid off from their work. This indicates that their buying capacity has reduced. As a brand, you need to come out with revamped business tactics to lure these customers, for instance, offer them discounts.

Sample Question:

Sample Question for Employment Status

#8. HOUSEHOLD INCOME: “What is Your Earning?”

HOUSEHOLD INCOME

source: leadsplease

Gauging your participant's household income shows the number of dependents or independents in their family: the more the dependents, the less your customer's purchasing power

Also, make sure that you ask the sensitive question by including a range. Not everyone is comfortable sharing the exact salary.

Case Study:

A survey of US Household income shows the purchasing power of US citizens. You can use the survey result to form a basic understanding of your customer base.

US Household Income Survey

Source: Wikipedia

Sample Question:

Sample Question for Household Income

Must Read: 100 Customer Satisfaction Questions to Measure Customer Happiness

#9. LOCATION: “Where Do You Live?”

LOCATION

Source: Better Homes & Gardens

Your customer's location forms a significant part of your demographic survey. The place gives you an insight into their living conditions and status.

Not every customer lives in an urban area with good transportation. Maybe your customer is put up in a remote location, and they cannot afford your products due to transportation woes. 

In that case, you can include local store delivery to encourage them to purchase your products.

Case Study:

Urban Demographics Survey by centreforcities shows the preferred living location of US citizens. It will help you analyze the needs and choices of your customers.

Urban Demographics SurveySample Question:

Sample Question for Location#10. FAMILY SIZE: “How Big Is Your Family?”

FAMILY SIZE

source: The Pioneer

The family size is an indicator of dependents in your survey respondent’s family: Do they have children, do they have elderly to care for? This affects their choices and preferences. For example or elderly have different food preferences as compared to children. Hence, these factors influence the food choices of your customers. 

Similarly, your customers invest a significant amount for children’s educational needs. You can then specifically tailor the campaign to woo your target customers.

Case Study:

A consumer expenditure survey by the US Bureau of Labour Statistics shows that married parents spend twice on their children as compared to cohabiting and single parent households.

consumer expenditure survey

Source: Institute for Family Studies

Sample Question:

Sample Question for Family SizeWith demographic question examples in your kitty, let’s learn to write questions with ProProfs Survey Maker. 

Let’s begin!

Demographic Survey Questions Examples with ProProfs Survey Maker

  • Target Market Demographics Survey Template:

This survey caters to your target demographic market with ten versatile questions on age, gender, ethnicity, household income, etc.

  • Market Research Survey Template:

This survey does a 360-degree analysis of your product in the markets. There are technical questions on product features and interests that suit the demography.

5 Tips to Ask the Right Demographic Questions

1. Use Simple and Jargon-Free Language

A simple survey language makes your survey easy to understand for your target audience. Avoid using abbreviations and jargon because this distorts their answers. The questionnaire could be misinterpreted, leading to false results.

2. Unleash the Power of Anonymous Survey

Anonymous survey helps you collect information without obtaining the personal details of the respondents. With anonymity ensured, many respondents will come forward to share their demographic data.

3. Share the Survey on Easily Accessible Platforms

Make sure that the survey is visible and accessible on different online platforms. Share the survey link on social media, send it through emails, and embed it on your website. Embed it on visible areas like the top bar, a pop-up bar, etc.

4. Avoid Double-Barreled Questions

Double-barreled questions are confusing questions that do not have a straight answer. When the survey respondents get confused, they either skip the question or give a random answer. 

For example, if you ask your customer, “Did you like the quality and quantity of our product?” here, the respondent may have a different opinion concerning quantity and quality. 

Instead, ask them two separate questions as: “Did you like the quality of our product?”, “Did you like the quantity of our product?”. This brings in more specificity and clarity to the question.

5. Bring in Transparency by Explaining the Survey Objectives

Ensure that your survey takers are well briefed about the survey objectives right from the beginning. Make it crystal clear if the survey is anonymous or not. Tell them about data security in place. They have every right to know how the survey results will be used.

Demographic Questions Shouldn’t Give You Nightmares Henceforth!

When it comes to winning more customers or retaining your existing customers, demographic surveys play a crucial role. It, in turn, helps you to realign your business strategies for higher growth.

Job well done! 

But, Demographic Survey ⇎ Better Survey Response

Demographic Survey + Empathy = Better Survey Response

Yes, it is hard to share one’s personal information like age and income. Hence, put forth the demographic questions in an impersonal and empathetic manner. Remember, non-intrusive demographic questions get maximum responses.

To help you have a better hands-on experience creating a demographic survey, you can choose from 100+ ProProfs Survey templates.

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About the author

Jared is a customer support expert. He has been published in CrazyEgg, Foundr, and CXL. As a customer support executive at ProProfs, he has been instrumental in developing a complete customer support system that more than doubled customer satisfaction.

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