Understanding Community Demographics – How to find it and what to do with it

understanding community demographics

Data on a given population group includes detailed information about its size, growth, and distribution. So, understanding community demographics will give you valuable information about your community. That is, it will show you general data that goes beyond whether it is growing or shrinking, such as, for example:

  • Social characteristics
  • Educational level
  • Economic trends
  • Housing sector behavior


In turn, these general concepts include specific data such as:

  • Sectors by age, gender, race, ethnicity, disabilities. 
  • Household composition, types of families, access to education, veteran or retiree status
  • Income level, degrees of poverty, employment, social or conflict displacement, immigrants
  • Housing characteristics, number of homeowners, number of renters, type of house, value, location


After the organization of the data comes a cleansing that allows you to understand what determines your environment. In other words, these data permit you to look at the characteristics of areas such as: 

  • Counties
  • Towns
  • Cities
  • School districts 
  • Neighborhoods.


This data is valuable for your business and helps you to create marketing strategies. The best part is much of this data is available from sources such as the 2020 Census or the American Community Survey. Let’s look at understanding community demographics as a marketing tool.


The benefits of understanding community demographics

man standing infront of group of people

Understanding community demographics is a critical step in understanding why communities have unique characteristics. For example, you will learn about their changes over time and the needs or strengths that have guided their planning. Besides, you will learn about the development of policies that will be useful for your marketing plan.


But, and as we insist so much in We Will Figure It Out, you will also be able to segment your market about potential non-English speaking customers. In short, if you are aware of the demographics of your environment, you will be more aware of the direction of your venture. Likewise, understanding community demographics will give you an idea of the then and now centered in your business strategies.


When you understand the context, you have at hand the raw material for your marketing plans. You will know, for example, why those potential customers in the Hispanic community work in a specific industry. You can even find out what they buy, what services they request, how they interact with the local market. In short, demographic data brings you closer to a complete portrait of your community.


Now we will see how to get closer to the knowledge of your immediate environment. That’s to say, those sources that will suggest to you how to adapt and incorporate that knowledge to maintain your venture.


By understanding community demographics,you
will know who your target customers will be

Once you understand your environment, the next step is to learn about your customers’ interests. This way, you can develop a combination of products or services that will appeal to your clients. So, understanding community demographics helps you focus on users who are likely to find your products attractive and buy them. 


Likewise, this type of statistics will also give you the guideline to reach those segments of consumers. Besides, it will be aware of your products and who wants to buy them. You will also have certainty about the customers who spend more money than others and who would be your target customers. But this will not be enough. Why? Because understanding community demographics, you will know the details that attract your users. As a result, you will be able to design a product strategy and promotional campaigns.


But understanding community demographics implies knowing how to interpret them. That is to say, to define the consumer segments that are important for your business. Then, the next step is to know how to target them and convey the benefits of what you offer, for example:

  • With the organization of some focus group sessions with few customers, you can discuss ideas, show them product prototypes and get to know their interests.
  • From these sessions, you can troubleshoot these products and determine if they need further development.
  • Conduct some more detailed consumer surveys whose responses will help you make decisions.
  • Determine if you must have more consumer consultation to improve your products or services.


Where can you find reliable demographic data?

understanding community demographics

You already have an overview of the importance of understanding community demographics. Now you should know that this information can help your business or nonprofit. For example, in identifying the needs of your community about products or services. You can get this information in some public organizations, such as: 

  • American Fact Finder is the web portal of the U.S. Census Bureau. There you can obtain specific information about the community you are investigating. You can do this by searching by zip code, city, county, or state to find the corresponding to:
              – Income level.
    – Ethnic distribution.
    – Age groups and other socio-cultural characteristics of a particular area.
  • If you need indicators or statistics collected at the regional level, consult:
    – Local, county, and state government websites.
    – Local public or academic libraries.
  • Another excellent tool for understanding community demographics is IssueLab. It is a Candid service that helps you search by topic for all social sector reports. Consequently, they will get you up to speed on what is happening in your community in a broader context. Its great advantage is many of these reports provide statistics of all kinds, especially on demographics.
  • You can also go to the Urban Institute’s website and look for their interactive maps*. They will provide you with a variety of data on schools, housing, education, and health.


Have you ever taken on the task of understanding community demographics for your business development? Tell us about it.

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