Some selected audience research from the Glossary

Qualitative: Qualitative data is data measured by the quality of something, rather than by a number or definitive multiple choice answer. Qualitative data is subjective and opinion based, and is often more detailed. It can be harder to analyse as it is usually impractical or impossible to create graphs to find trends. Questions aimed at retrieving qualitative responses are usually open ended. For example ‘How effective did you find the use of cinematography in the film’? The answers to these questions will usually be written out as a very mini-essay, outlining the respondents views on the matter. You can obtain qualitative audience research through things like focus groups, or by looking at reviews for media products. A specific example could be reviews for a box set on Amazon.  

Quantitative: Quantitative data is measurable or ‘quantifiable’. It either is a number or can be given number value. It is effective to collect quantitative data on mass, and useful for analysation. You can make graphs or charts with quantitative data. The questions you ask to retrieve quantitative data are closed-ended. Often they will be multiple choice, and if not they will require a number or one-worded answer. Sometimes when the range of answers could be very wide, the answers will be put into small groups with spaced boundaries. For example: ‘How much time do you spend on YouTube a week?’ and then the answers will be ‘0-9 mins, 10-24 mins, 25-50 mins, 51-100 mins, 101 mins+’. Companies could use social media websites like Facebook to collect quantitative data. (For example, looking at which films get the most ‘likes’). Surveys are also a cheap and efficient way of collecting quantitative data on mass.   


Audience classifications

Socio-economic: Someone socio-economic status means is their current financial situation. They are used to describe, measure and classify people of different ‘social grade’ and income and earnings levels often for market research. Some people argue there are links between a persons socio-economic status and lifestyle/ cultural trend/ attitudes/ behaviour etc, however it can be difficult (and at times, arguably, unjust) to fing concrete links between these things and someone’s financial situation or background. There is a commonly used and known table of classifications, where someone is put into either an A, B, C1, C2, D or E category, going from ‘richest’ to ‘poorest’ in that same order. It was devised by the NRS (national readership survey). It can be important for marketers/ companies/ producers to know an audiences socio-economic status, as those with no spare or dispensable cash aren’t going to be as worth trying to sell to. (There are always uses for each class and ways around a lack of cash but it is still helpful to know what grade of quality and expense you should be selling to who).        

Psychographics: Psychographics relate to the opinions and attitude of people, either towards a given subject or generally. Amidst these are also peoples lifestyles and choices, as well as interests and ideologies. Psychographics are very important in media, the way someone views the world may help form what kind of things they enjoy or want to consume. People may disagree with the message or theme of something based on ethical, moral or political reasons. Pschographics may be more changeable and inconsistent than other categories like demographics. Especially in modern times as people are tending to conform less, be more individual and this transfers into media as people consuming what thy may not be expected to based on their profile etc.     

demographics: Demographics means statistical data relating to a population and/or  specific groups within it. This can involve things like age, gender, sexuality etc. These things are often taken as an average. Demographics will make up part an audience profile.

mainstream: Mainstream means the ideas, attitudes and ideas that are seen as normal (or perhaps conventional). The mainstream of anything is by default the most popular, as that is practically what mainstream is: the majority, the bulk, the mass of minds. To be part of the mainstream will tend to mean you don’t stand out, your opinions are popular. Hollywood loves the mainstream market: it’s where the people are and the people are the money.


alternative: alternative contrasts mainstream, it is not the most popular thing. It is in some way ‘different’. Sometimes it isn’t quite as accessible to the majority of people (see radiohead). However alternative doesn’t mean unpopular, by along shot. It should not be confused with ‘indie’ which is usually more unpopular, and often more abstract or ‘out there’ in some way. Alternative is often the second most popular: it isn’t the mainstream big seller, but it quite possibly could be the next biggest thing. It generally entails some ideas or content that isn’t so straightforward or accepted on mass.

niche: Niche, or a ‘niche market’, means a small but clearly defined group of people who have wants (or needs) which others don’t. If a TV series is aimed at a niche market, it will have a small but dedicated fan-base. Not many people will fit into the right ‘category’ to enjoy it, but those who do will usually really appreciate that their small number is being catered for. Niche markets are often what lead to ‘cult followings’. Things made for niche markets often could be ‘indie’ (in the sense of the word that is linked to genre rather than meaning independently made/ owned which strictly speaking is what it actually means). However these niche, indie things often get more popular as the years go by, then arrive at being alternative rather than indie. Then  they got so damn popular they finish as mainstream! Crazy.