open book Market Research
Ka-Neng Au



Primary ResearchSecondary Research
Surveys, questionnaires Published sources, in print or online
Costly Often free
Current Varies
Time-consuming to conduct Time-consuming to research
Focused Wide-ranging (but dispersed)


The mother of all data sources on the population and on business establishments is the U.S. Census Bureau. For the latest available information, start with American FactFinder and click on the "Data Sets" link. You can then select one of the following:


The Right Site ® has hundreds of thousands of free demographic profiles, based on Census of Population and Housing data. EASI Census 2000 Quick Reports are available for area codes and TV markets, as well as the usual geographic divisions. (Registration is required.)

More modestly, the firm ESRI offers free demographic and lifestyle data with their ZIP Lookup Tool, which include household income, home values, and a description of the predominant Tapestry segments.

A similar ZIP code lookup site with neighborhood lifestyle segmentation information is You Are Where You Live, offered by Claritas, with its PRIZM NE Segmentation System.

NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS consolidates information from many sources for its profiles of towns and cities, including crime data, housing, businesses, political contributions, weather, hospitals, schools, libraries, as well as race, income, ancestries, education, employment statistics on the residents.

PolicyMap displays many popular categories of demographic information as maps, including population, income, home ownership, and education. The underlying data is derived from both government and commercial sources.

To find Historical Census data using maps, consult Social Explorer. This site provides access to selected data sets for censuses from 1790-2000.


State funding for the New Jersey Knowledge Initiative is scheduled to be cut by June 30, 2010, so make use of these two useful business databases on JerseyClicks while you can:

  • Business Source Premier covers most business and management topics including accounting, finance, marketing, and strategic planning. It contains the full-text (or abstracts) of articles from thousands of professional publications, academic journals, and trade magazines.

  • ReferenceUSA offers several searchable database modules containing detailed information on more than 14 million U.S. businesses and 120 million U.S. residents. A Custom Search of businesses allows searching of many fields including geographic location, size of business, Yellow Pages heading, and SIC and NAICS industry codes.

Demographics USA, published by Trade Dimensions every year, has demographic, income, retail sales, and establishments data for counties and states. (DANA REF HF 5438.4 .S87)

Financial Studies of the Small Business provides industry averages and financial ratios as benchmarks for your business. (DANA REF HD 2346 .U5 F55A)


For more sources of information, both in print and on the Internet, please refer to my online guides to Market Research and Industry Research.
This page was last updated 23 March 2010.
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