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Case Study: How to Revolutionize Market Research with Social Explorer

THURSDAY, SEP 05, 2019

“The maps are great, as an output thing and a way of selecting the areas. Social Explorer is more user-friendly than Factfinder. Good for discovering interested areas. For example, is there a particular part of town that happens to be an island of high income, that's something that is hard to do with just raw numbers, you need a shaded map for that. That’s why I use Social Explorer.”

– Nick Caine, Director of Market Research at McWilliams Ballard, Alexandria, Virginia


Market research plays a pivotal role in helping companies understand consumer needs and preferences, determine opportunities for future growth, and maintain a competitive edge. Identifying and investigating key demographic data points and trends is an absolute must for conducting in-depth and comprehensive market studies.

Take market research to the next level with Social Explorer. Find out how our datasets and interactive mapping tools are transforming strategic insights into actionable outcomes.


Nick Caine is the Director of Market Research at a home sales and marketing firm in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area. As a market research analyst catering to the real estate industry, Nick works on market studies, feasibility studies, and due diligence process, among other projects.

Demonstrating the unique opportunities and challenges in the Mid-Atlantic Region requires Nick to examine a wide range of demographic datasets, making inquiries such as:

  • What is the income distribution in a particular neighborhood? What is the median household income in that location? How does it differ among renters and owners? 

  • What is the percentage of rentership in a specific part of town?  

  • What is the median age among the renting population?  

  • What is the level of educational attainment in a particular neighborhood?  

  • Are most renters in this area married or single?

  • What are the recent trends over time for a particular location?

Answers to such questions would allow Nick to quickly give an impression of a particular location, especially to a client unfamiliar with the geography. For example, if his research reveals that a particular part of town is an island of high income, it may point to a good market for building new condominiums or townhomes. Presenting this information visually, in the form of a customized Social Explorer map for instance, could help him make a more compelling case than just listing raw numbers.

Nick’s research has considerable influence on the decisions that his clients make. Gaining access to these datasets would help him provide more informative and insightful analyses. Being able to visually present the most relevant information for a particular zip code would be a key functionality for Nick. And he adds, “also to quickly select geographies by just clicking on the map and using that to find different demographic data points. That's something you really can’t do with FactFinder.”


Nick found Social Explorer intuitive to use, helping him do his job more efficiently. In order to understand the underlying demographics of a particular location, Nick turns to Social Explorer to drill down to the smallest subset of interest and make quick comparisons between varying levels of geography.

This map highlights the median household income for the District of Columbia and Arlington County, VA. Census Tract 9.01 with a median household income of $242,208 seems to be an “island of high income”. Nick can find out the zip code, and using the annotation feature, highlight the area for his clients.
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The annotation feature helps Nick highlight his area of choice, while the masking tool removes data from surrounding areas and makes his presentations pop.

Using the annotation feature, select your geographic unit of choice, then select the dataset you want to show, and make comparisons of relevant data points with the surrounding areas.
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When making presentations to colleagues, clients, and investors, Nick is often asked if he could show his findings on a map. Social Explorer not only offers him the functionality to do so, but also the ability to embed customized data maps in his reports, or share them directly with his clients and colleagues. Nick counts this ability to make the data look presentable as a huge plus point.

Sharing your work with your colleagues and clients is easy with just a few clicks.

In addition to demographic data such as population density, household income, educational attainment, and employment metrics from the most trusted sources, Social Explorer’s data library also contains domain-specific data on property values, home ownership, housing vacancy, occupancy status, housing patterns, etc. to help you investigate and refine your questions. Examine these datasets at many geographic levels such as state, county, census tract, census block group, and more.


For market research analysts like Nick, Social Explorer comes with a number of benefits, including:

  • Social Explorer’s data library and mapping tools power your market research by helping you understand the ethnic, demographic, socioeconomic, and geographic traits of your target location and identify the right opportunities for growth.  

  • With vast troves of demographic data available down to the neighborhood level, Social Explorer helps you offer the most incisive analysis and comprehensive takes to your clients. 

  • Social Explorer’s powerful features offer the best value for all your data needs.  

  • Download our datasets in GIS, Excel, SAS, R, STATA or other packages and integrate it with your own data.  

  • Let your marketing campaigns stand out with our data visualization tools. Transform important data points into attractive visualizations and make your case more effectively.

  • Simply click to share data tables, reports, and maps of the geographic units of your choice with your colleagues and clients.

  • Help your clients discover new investment opportunities with our Opportunity Zones layer, make data comparisons between varying levels of geography, and create reports from your maps and save and share both.

  • Social Explorer’s award-winning point and click interface is unparalleled in its ease of use, get started right away!

Author: Amrapali Saha

Data insights are waiting to be uncovered
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