Demographic profiling is a form of demographic analysis used by marketers so that they may be as efficient as possible with advertising products or services and identifying any possible gaps in their marketing strategy. Demographic profiling can even be referred to as a euphemism for industrial espionage. By targeting certain groups who are more likely to be interested in what is being sold, a company can efficiently expend advertising resources so that they may garner the maximum number of sales. This is a more direct tactic than simply advertising on the basis that anyone is a potential consumer of a product; while this may be true, it does not capitalise on the increased returns that more specific marketing will bring. Traditional demographic profiling has been centered around gathering information on large groups of people in order to identify common trends. Trends such as, but not limited to: changes in total population and changes in the composition of the population over a period of time. These trends could promote change in services to a certain portion of the population, in people such as children, elderly, and the working-age population. They can be identified through surveys, in-store purchase information, census data, and so on. New ways are also in the works of collecting and using information for Demographic Profiling, Such approaches that have been used are, target-sampling, quota-sampling, and even door-to-door screening.


An effective means of compiling a comprehensive demographic profile is the panacea of marketing efforts. To know a person's name, ethnicity, gender, address, what they buy, where they buy it, how they pay, etc., is a powerful insight into how to best sell them a product. The development of this profiling is the goal of many businesses around the world, who are pouring huge amounts of money into researching it. A recent discovery that has drastically changed the way we construct demographic profiles, is metadata. This is the
digital footprint Digital footprint or digital shadow refers to one's unique set of traceable digital activities, actions, contributions and communications manifested on the Internet or digital devices. Digital footprints can be classified as either passive or ...
left behind by everyone who uses online services. The more extensive a user's usage, the more extensive the information available on them and their interests. Companies such as Google and Facebook make enormous profits through generating and processing metadata, which can then be used by companies wishing to streamline their advertising to those best suited to seeing it (targeted advertising). This is what controls the ads on a user's news feed, or websites they visit, and means that for example, an avid mountain biker, is more likely to come across ads aiming towards that interest. For another example, for young girls who often visit online shopping stores, when on a social media account such as Facebook, the pop-up ads are more likely to concern recent stores they've visited or stores similar to. Metadata includes information such as the amount of time spent on a website, what websites a user frequently visits, where/what they clicked and how many times, what they've purchased, whom they have talked to, and what they have purchased. It is so pervasive that most of what people do online contributes to the information being held about them by businesses, and will directly affect what is advertised and shown to them when using an online browser and what mediums this is done through.


The gathering of metadata has proven to be a controversial topic, with large numbers of people around the world expressing discomfort at the idea of their personal information being used to generate a virtual profile of themselves for businesses to take advantage of. This leads to businesses needing to progress with caution in this field, and not go too far with how they use this information. To avoid future legislation being enacted that would seek to limit the collection of metadata, companies must act ethically and have people's privacy in mind when they target people for advertising. An example of how this could become an issue is presented by Vastenavondt, J., & Vos, K., & Ewing, T., & Wood, O. (2013), who proposed the idea of a virtual reality shopping programme. Within this programme, the shopper is greeted by a virtual attendant who knows them by name and suggests an array of suitable clothing options based on their past purchases. The shopper is delighted by the seamless nature of this shopping experience, until it's time to make a purchase. When buying the items the shopper has picked out, they opt to use their credit card. They are then asked by the virtual attendee if they are sure they would like to use that option, as their credit history suggests that cash would be a wiser option and that they wouldn't want to default on their payments as they have in the past. This highlights the need for discretion in the extent to which information is gathered, and how it is applied.

Calculation methods

Demographic data that makes up the profile is collected through multiple ways such as censuses, surveys, records, and registries in order to keep track of things such as population, births, deaths, relationship status, and more. The Census is the most important tool when it comes to tracking this data. The United States Census was first introduced in 1790 and has been taken every 10 years since under Constitutional la

While the questions in the U.S. Census vary each decade, the aim is to find more about the residence within its borders and their unique characteristics from marital status, age, sex, race, education status, employment status, and location. Even though the U.S. Census is the most relied on tool for collecting this information it still has its flaws such as overcount and undercount which has caused controversy in previous years.https://www.census.gov/prod/2001pubs/censr01-2.pdf

World Demographic Profile 2017

Source: CIA World Factbook

Demographic Profiles of the 3 Most Populated Countries in the World

Source: CIA World Factbook Source: CIA World Factbook Source: CIA World Factbook

See also

Demography Demography () is the statistical study of populations, especially human beings. Demographic analysis examines and measures the dimensions and dynamics of populations; it can cover whole societies or groups defined by criteria such as ...
Elderly Old age refers to ages nearing or surpassing the life expectancy of human beings, and is thus the end of the human life cycle. Terms and euphemisms for people at this age include old people, the elderly (worldwide usage), OAPs (British usage ...
Geodemography Geodemography is the study of people based on where they live.; it links the sciences of demography, the study of human population dynamics, and geography, the study of the locational and spatial variation of both physical and human phenomena on Ea ...
Market segmentation In marketing, market segmentation is the process of dividing a broad consumer or business market, normally consisting of existing and potential customers, into sub-groups of consumers (known as ''segments'') based on some type of shared chara ...
Mass marketing Mass marketing is a marketing strategy in which a firm decides to ignore market segment differences and appeal the whole market with one offer or one strategy, which supports the idea of broadcasting a message that will reach the largest number ...
* Niche market * Population profiling *
Precision marketing Precision marketing is a marketing technique that suggests successful marketing is to retain, cross-sell, and upsell existing customers. Precision marketing emphasizes relevance as part of the technique. To achieve Precision Marketing, marketer ...
Psychographic Psychographics is a qualitative methodology used to describe traits of humans on psychological attributes. Psychographics have been applied to the study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles. Two approaches to ...
* Psychological development *
Target market A target market, also known as serviceable obtainable market (SOM), is a group of customers within a business's serviceable available market at which a business aims its marketing efforts and resources. A target market is a subset of the total ...
Population pyramid A population pyramid (age structure diagram) or "age-sex pyramid" is a graphical illustration of the distribution of a population (typically that of a country or region of the world) by age groups and sex; it typically takes the shape of a pyrami ...
Demographics of India India is the second most populated country in the world with a sixth of the world's population. According to official estimates, India's population stood at 1.38 billion. Between 1975 and 2010, the population doubled to 1.2 billio ...
Demographics of China '' The demographics of China demonstrate a huge population with a relatively small youth component, partially a result of China's one-child policy. China's population reached 1 billion in late 1981. As of December 2021, China's population stoo ...


{{DEFAULTSORT:Demographic Profile Demographics Market segmentation Marketing Marketing strategy Market research