Five Free Data Sources Every Market Researcher Should Know
For those who feel far removed from the federal government shutdowns, I hope Versta Research’s winter newsletter will inspire an appreciation for what our government provides that is invaluable (and irreplaceable) in market research.
Most researchers have no idea how much free data there is from the U.S. Federal Statistical System. They should, because unlike most free data, this stuff is research gold. It is rich, detailed, and rigorously developed by statisticians and research methodologists.
Our newsletter outlines Five Free Data Sources Every Market Researcher Should Know. It describes some of the most important sources of government data we use in our work everyday, with illustrations of how we use it.
The five sources highlighted are:
- The Economic Census, which is a count of all businesses in the United States, with aggregate and detailed data by number of employees, revenues, payroll, and so on. This is data we use all the time for sampling and weighting of our B2B studies.
- The American Community Survey, which is what most of us typically refer to when we talk about “census data.” This survey is much more detailed than the decennial census and includes an amazing breadth of demographic information that is essential for anybody doing consumer research or public opinion polling.
- The Survey of Consumer Finances is a survey of U.S. families conducted every three years by the Federal Reserve Board. It provides data about household financial assets (whereas the U.S. Census does not) including the types of assets people own, how much they have saved in retirement plans, and so on.
- Occupational Employment Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Instead of focusing on businesses, this data focuses on professions and the number of people employed in specific occupations. We use this data for many of our B2B studies that target specific employment sectors, like higher education faculty, nurses, or HR executives.
- The National Health Interview Survey, which is one of several excellent sources of health data including measures of chronic conditions, obesity, exercise, mental health status, and much more. This is data we consult and analyze all the time for our studies focusing on healthcare, medical treatments, physician–patient relationships, and so on.
If you are not using these data sources already, this is stuff you need to know about! And once you know more, I hope you’ll offer a friendly word of thanks and support to all our federal statistician and research methodologists who make these data happen!
—Joe Hopper, Ph.D.