There are many reasons that a business or organization may wish to conduct a survey, but determining what questions to ask is only part of the process. It's also important to direct your survey to participants who will give the information you need to make important operational decisions.


One of the most important initial factors in determining the market for a survey is the classification of your market. A consumer market classification consists of individuals who may purchase your service or product for personal use. An industrial market classification includes manufacturers who use your products to produce something else. A reseller market classification consists of retailers and sellers who buy your products wholesale and distribute them to customers at a higher price. Surveying representatives of the right market classification is essential to getting useful data. For some services or products, surveys might be needed across several classifications.


The age of survey participants is an important factor in determining who to survey, particularly for consumer surveys. Individuals from different generations may have very different attitudes toward a given product or service. In addition, the factors of disposable income or adult responsibilities may affect a survey participant's responses concerning money and planned expenditures.


Gender plays a major role in determining survey participants. For example, women continue to make the majority of household buying decisions in the consumer market. Men and women also tend to favor certain products, which can skew your data if you don't take gender into account.


Income is important because you need to survey only individuals or companies who are within your target market. For example, if your company produces luxury goods, then opinions from low-income individuals are less useful than opinions from affluent consumers who are more likely to buy your products. On the other hand, if value is a major feature of your products, then surveying consumers with limited financial flexibility is key.


Geography is an important consideration in determining survey markets, especially in the case of reseller and industrial markets. If you wish to grow locally, focus on surveying companies near you. If you wish to expand, choose potential clients who operate nationally or internationally to survey.