Researching behavioural differences among ethnic minority groups: the case for inferring ethnicity on the basis of people's names

Richard Webber

Kings College London


Market research is often commissioned with a view to assessing how well an organisation is meeting the needs of existing and potential new customers. For this reason, and for the need to segment respondents, the final reports of most research studies incorporate tables that show variations in the frequency of various behaviours, purchases or attitudes among different demographic segments.

Among the demographic segmentation systems that are most likely to feature in these reports are gender, age and marital status. Researchers are also likely to report brand or product performance by various proxies for affluence, such as terminal education age, social class, house tenure or the type of residential neighbourhood in which a person lives.