Demographic questions for surveys

Better understand your audiences with demographic surveys

Where do you live? How old are you? And how healthy are you? Pardon the personal questions, but demographic questions can give you a lot of great information about certain populations. Learn more about customers, clients, and market segments with demographic surveys, and do more to meet the needs of your target audience. Whether you’re developing products, providing health services, understanding public opinion—or even selling cars—knowing more about the demographic makeup of survey respondents can tell you a lot.

Get a head start with expert-certified templates, or create your own custom demographics questionnaire. SurveyMonkey makes it easy to design surveys, collect answers, and analyze results. Please note that some demographic survey templates are available in English only at this time.

A demographic survey collects data about the basic characteristics of the surveyed population. They may be conducted by individual brands, government agencies, research institutions, websites, media agencies, and more. 

Demographic data is often collected to get to know a target audience or customer segment better. This information is used to personalize advertising and marketing campaigns to appeal to precise groups of customers. Demographic surveys are usually conducted along with other market research and are used for classification purposes.

  • Easy to develop: demographic surveys generally consist of multiple choice questions, which are easy to create and administer in person, online, or via email.
  • Cost effective: online demographic surveys are generally the least expensive option for collecting data.
  • Useful in segmentation: demographics are useful in determining your target market and segmenting that for marketing and advertising purposes.
  • Easy to analyze data: with multiple choice questions, you can easily interpret results based on demographics. Using a tool like SurveyMonkey allows you to visualize data with a variety of charts and graphs.

SurveyMonkey demographic surveys can provide users in industries across the public and private sectors with relevant information about any target audience. It can also help you segment audiences with different needs based on income, gender, location, and other factors. Here are a few areas where demographic research can make a large impact:

Demographic and psychographic data can help you shape product and service offerings, determine promotions and pricing, and sort customer groups based on needs and interests. Young, single men and women tend to have different interests and more disposable income than married men and women with young families, for example. If yours is a brick-and-mortar establishment, it’s particularly helpful to get to know your neighbors. If you run your business online, then other demographics will be more important, such as occupation, educational background, and language proficiency. (For more, check out our ultimate guide to DIY market research.)

As you build research projects focused on specific populations, use demographic surveys to confirm that you’ve correctly identified your target audiences. If you need help reaching a certain demographic, SurveyMonkey Audience can help you get the right respondents for your research. Incorporate demographic and psychographic survey questions into your broader research, establishing “control” populations and baseline data. Use relevant demographic data in research proposals and grant applications as well.

Do your patients belong to an ethnic group that has common health issues? What socio-economic factors might impact your patients’ health and well-being? Use demographic questionnaires and health surveys to understand who you are treating in the context of a broader community or environment. If you want to collect sensitive health information, be sure your surveys comply with HIPAA.

Discover the makeup of your school community with demographic questions about gender, income, race, relationship to student, and more. Gain understanding about the educational needs across your school district, and ensure that school programs and funding support all of your students.

Use demographic surveys to better understand how your community works. Is one part of your community older, with many elderly people who may need more ambulance or in-home services? Where do most of your younger families with elementary school-aged children live, and do they have safe bikeways and nearby public parks? Is your church or synagogue meeting the needs of the community that surrounds you? Understand their ethical attitudes versus common norms. Use demographic surveys with anonymized responses for specific neighborhood insights.

Get to know the people who can benefit from your non-profit program the most. Demographics information can help you provide relief for people in areas affected by natural disasters, distribute resources to the underserved, or run programs for families with grave health conditions. Many non-profit programs address the needs of specific demographic populations. Do you understand yours? Is it changing? Aging? Moving? Use demographic surveys from time to time to make sure that your programs align to the evolving needs of those you serve.

Buyer personas

Your business can use demographic surveys as part of developing buyer personas that are accurate for your customer segments. Buyer personas provide the ability to visualize your target customers when developing marketing campaigns, providing customer service, and creating positive customer experiences.

Patterns and trends

Use demographic data to group survey respondents and look for patterns in your market research. You can then test the patterns to look for trends that will allow you to make informed business decisions.

Confirm your audience

Demographic surveys also help to confirm that you are targeting the right audience for your product or service. 

Accurate analysis

Demographic data is important for analyzing survey results. You may find an unusual answer is explained by insights into demographics. For example, a response that indicates limited internet use may be explained by age or location.

Fair representation

Demographics also help you ensure that your market research is being conducted on a population that fairly represents the group you are targeting.

There are standard questions that appear on most demographic surveys. They ask for the most basic data to give you a general picture of your respondents.

Regardless of what information you are seeking, you’ll want to know your participants’ genders. Gender often explains disparate opinions, whether your survey is political, educational, market research, or for another purpose. 


How would you describe your gender identity?

  • Male
  • Female
  • Other (with a blank field for the respondent to enter gender identity)
  • Prefer not to answer

Age can be a sensitive topic, but it’s an important demographic factor. Consider how individuals of different ages respond to movies, music, products, and marketing and advertising messages. The ability to sort your survey participants by age ensures that you’re targeting the right audience for your product or service. For example, you wouldn’t want to include younger adults in a survey about a retirement community.

Because some respondents may be sensitive about their ages, provide age ranges as answers instead of requiring a numerical answer.


Which category includes your age?

  • 17 or younger
  • 18-20
  • 21-29
  • 30-39
  • 40-49
  • 50-59
  • 60+

Another potentially sensitive category, ethnicity may be a necessary piece of information for your survey. Ensure that you include an option to opt out of answering this question. Allow respondents to choose more than one answer as many people have multiracial ethnicity.


What is your ethnic background? Please check all that apply.

  • White/Caucasian
  • Asian - Eastern
  • Asian - Indian
  • Hispanic
  • Black
  • Native American
  • Other (with a blank field for respondents to enter their racial identity)
  • Prefer not to answer

Depending on your business, you may benefit from knowing where your survey participants are located. Local businesses may ask for a city, town, or zip code. National or global businesses may ask for the country, region, or state.


Where are you located?

Select country (dropdown with a list of countries)

Select state or region (dropdown with states/regions depending on the country selection)

Knowing whether your respondents are single or married is helpful when determining their needs, wants, and interests. 


What is your marital status:

  • Single
  • Married
  • Divorced
  • Prefer not to answer

Does education play a role in who will want or need your products? Demographic survey questions based on education level usually ask in terms of the highest level achieved.


What is the highest level of education you have completed?

  • Master’s degree or above
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • High school diploma
  • Other
  • Prefer not to answer

Use surveys as a tool for learning more about your customers, clients, employees, or citizens. Start with our survey templates, or create your own. Professional survey methodologists write all of our templates, so you can use them as is. You can also customize templates to fit your needs, or create your own using the certified questions available in our Question Bank.

Here are a few expert-designed demographic survey templates.

  • U.S. Demographics, Snapshot Template: This six-question template asks respondents about gender, age, education, employment, household income, and race.
  • U.S. Demographics, Full Template: In addition to the six questions posed in the Snapshot Template, this 12-question template asks about geographic location, housing, marital status, ethnicity, business or farm ownership, and personal income.
  • Employment Template: With two quick questions, learn about respondents’ employment status, the type of work they do, and the industry in which they work.
  • Education Demographics Template: Discover the makeup of your school community with 16 basic demographic questions about gender, income, race, relationship to student, and more.
  • Firmographics Template: Learn more about your B2B customers or clients with this 10-question survey that asks when the company was founded, where it’s headquartered, number of employees and locations, and the job and title of the individual who’s responding.
  • Target Market Demographics Template and Typical Customer Demographics Template: These B2B, nine-question survey templates help you help your business customers understand their end customers. Demographic questions include age, gender, education level, employment status, annual household income, marital and family status, housing, business, and farm ownership.
  • We offer many other demographic survey templates, including Commuting, Household Budget, General Internet Usage, Language Proficiency, Mobile or Cell Phone Use, U.S. Military Service, and more, to help you get more insights about your target audiences.

Online surveys are a great way to reach a broad audience. You can post demographic questionnaires to your website, send them through email, or ask for responses through Facebook and other social media channels.

You can also use an easy DIY solution like SurveyMonkey Audience to buy responses from the right population, targeted by demographics, geography, and more.

We provide guides on how to write good survey questions, as well as how to create and conduct surveys. Check them out! And in the meantime, try these tips to encourage respondents to complete your surveys.

Many people are sensitive about offering demographic information they consider private, like income level, employment status, and race or ethnicity. If you’re surveying for broad demographic patterns or trends, consider making responses anonymous—and be sure to let your respondents know that’s the case.

Explain the purpose of your survey in a brief introduction. Tell your respondents how you’ll use the information. For example: “We want to know more about our customers and what they want. This information will help us put together the right mix of products and services to ensure your delight and satisfaction!”

Reach as many people as possible. All of our standard survey designs are accessible (by U.S. Section 508 standards), and you can deliver them online in a variety of ways.

Shorter surveys are easier for respondents to complete. Be sure to indicate how long yours will take.

Demographic questions are easy to answer and can get respondents into the flow of the survey.

In some cases, you are legally required to reveal how you will use collected demographic data. Whether it is required or not, it will put your participants at ease to know why you are asking and who will see their information. A simple statement at the beginning of your survey will serve to inform them.

Hopefully, you’ve formulated questions that are inclusive and provide options for all participants to answer your questions (for example, including space for a non-binary individual to enter their gender identity). However, if someone does not wish to answer demographic questions, prepare in advance by including a “Prefer not to answer” option for each question.

Use demographic survey questions to find out basic data about your survey participants. Age, gender, ethnicity, location, marital status, and education level data will help you easily and accurately segment your target population for marketing and advertising purposes.

Get started with your target population by using SurveyMonkey Audience. Or create your target market demographics survey with our template today!

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