ADVE 4100 - Media Planning: Consumer Surveys

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Quick links

This page has links to just get you started. Read more about them if this is the first time you've used this type of data.

Introduction - a video

Here's a video intro, which takes 5 minutes to watch.  The 'Introduction - text' box below has mostly the same introductory content.  The video also includes a brief demo of GfK MRI University Reporter.

Introduction - text

Consumer survey datasets are huge surveys of consumers conducted by several major market research companies, which are not aimed at any one client.  Basically, 'one-size-tries-to-fit-all' market research ... 

Basic information about them:

  • Conducted twice a year, spring and fall
  • 20,000 to 30,000 respondents usually
  • Focus on consumer products and consumer behavior


  • Respondents keep diaries or logs for ~10 days about everything that they do, eat, read/watch, buy, etc.  This means all household members ... (Yes, they do get paid.)
  • A fieldworker comes to the household and asks even more questions of the family, especially about demographics and lifestyle
  • The survey results are then projected onto the Annual Population Estimate Surveys from the Census Bureau

Types of variables collected:

  • Demographics, lots of 'em!
  • Product usage and preference
  • Brand usage and preference
  • Media usage and preference
  • Psychographics, i.e. lifestyle preferences

Who uses/buys these datasets?

  • Advertising agencies
  • Big consumer product companies
  • Major media companies

About MRI-Simmons' Insight (NCS)

MRI-Simmons' National Consumer Study

This is usually the larger and more detailed survey.  The MRI-Simmons Insights software allows you to set up and create crosstabs as you please ... crosstab software is a very flexible and powerful software, but can require some time to learn.  

  MRI-Simmons Limitations:

  • 10 simultaneous users only.  If you're refused access, please try again later.
  • Academic libraries may only buy MRI-Simmons data that are at least two years old (depending on time of year, it can be three years old).


  • Two modules:  Crosstab and Brand Catalyst.
      –  Crosstab is a powerful, sophisticated software which allows you to create your own crosstabs.
      –  Brand Catalyst is an easier module that pulls out significant variables for lifestyle, media and brand preference.
  • More psychographic, 'lifestyle'-type questions and variables.  Has data from VALS, Equifax's Customer Segmentation (formerly IXI's, Experian Mosaic, and other segmentation systems (see the proprietary data section within the Codebook; data availability varies by year).