Many kinds of stats can be revealing, but it’s good to understand what each is telling you and when to use them. Understanding what kind of a fact you have helps in interpreting the implications of it. For example, just because 31% of smartphone owners say they plan to make more purchases on their devices in the future (@eDRtweet), doesn’t mean you they will. They might, but there’s a difference between attitude, which is what that stat represents, and behavior. Below you’ll find the seven most essential categories of facts and statistics and some hints on when to use each one.
Stats about consumers
- Demographics tell you who belongs to a particular population or customer segment. They focus on characteristics like age, gender, income, education level, and background. Consider using demographic data to explain who belongs to the population you’re describing and highlight distinctions between different segments.
- Attitudes are values, beliefs, or expectations that a consumer holds. Attitudes can give you a sense of what a group of consumers thinks (or would like to think), but they don’t always reflect the reality of how they’ll actually behave. When responding to surveys, people often respond as they want to be seen—not as they are. You might use attitudinal data to make points about how people feel about a topic, what they expect to happen, or what values and beliefs are important to them.
- Behavioral data clarifies how a population is actually acting. Instead of answering “Would you?” questions, behavioral data answers “Have you” and “Do you?” questions. “Observational” data gleaned from methods like tracking sales or online behavior is often more reliable than self-reported data.
Stats about industries, markets, and companies
- Market structure data explains how big a market is, how fast it’s growing or projected to grow, and which companies (or types of companies) have what market share. Use it to make points about how large or fast-growing a market is or how consolidated or fragmented it is.
- Business model data explains details about how a company’s business is structured. What business units or product lines account for what share of the company’s revenue or earnings? Use it to describe the relative importance of different parts of a company’s business.
Stats about technologies and marketing channels
- Reach or penetration rate is one of the fundamental types of stats about technologies and marketing channels. How many people (or what percentage of the population) own and use the technology? Use these stats to show how widely adopted a channel is.
- Strategy stats explain what companies and leaders are doing with technologies or marketing channels (as opposed to consumers). Use them to benchmark how different companies are investing in or executing in different areas.
When you’re looking for a stat to support your argument, first take a look at what you’re trying to build a commentary. Is it about the business, a given technology, or the consumers (current or future). Then figure out what you’re trying to say about that focus area. Is it about growth or adoption possibilities or the current state of affairs? Make sure that the research you choose speaks to those focus areas and traits. The good news is: Factbrowser has established categories for each of these types of statistics, so you’ll always know if you’re using the right stat for your argument. Just look under topic, then format. Happy browsing!