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Defining an audience with market research


This lesson is designed to introduce students to the practice of market research as the basis for entrepreneurial strategy decisions including defining an audience and exploring the implications of social media on traditional market research strategies. Students will analyze sample surveys to apply their learning.

For further training on defining your market, consider the Web module lesson “Who is your audience?”


  • Students will be able to explain the process of market research and how to define a market audience.
  • Students will be able to discuss how the preferences of a market audience influence a publication team’s decisions about marketing for the publication, advertising strategies, and conducting a social media campaign.
  • Students will be able to explain how to create an effective market research survey, including guidelines for writing good questions and rules for analyzing statistical data.
  • Students will be able to evaluate market research surveys according to established criteria.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1c Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.6 Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.


Two 60-70 minute classes OR one 60-70 minute class, eliminating day 2


Handout: Analyzing sample surveys

Rubric: Collaboration rubric

Assessment: Defining a market audience

Slideshow: Market research slideshow

Handout: Market research slideshow notes

Handout: Sample market research survey 1

Handout: Sample market research survey 2

Handout: Sample market research survey 3

Handout: Sample market research survey 4

Lesson step-by-step

Day 1

1. Survey 1 — 10-15 minutes

Distribute Sample Market Research Survey 1 to students and give them 10-15 minutes to answer the questions. This survey is designed to solicit student responses about their learning styles and preferences and will be used as a hook into a discussion about tailoring methods toward audience preferences. The survey may be administered electronically through Google Forms for up-to-the-minute graphic representations of student responses or on paper. If the survey is distributed on paper, it may be beneficial to ask students to come up to the whiteboard, overhead projector or document camera to tally their responses to create a graphic representation of student preferences for the discussion.

2. Debrief — 5 minutes

Discuss the survey results with students — How do most of them like to learn? What are their activity preferences? Based on these results, how should a teacher approach learning in the classroom with them? Are their classes normally like this? If so, what are the benefits of learning in a classroom that is tailored to their needs? If not, why not? What might that kind of classroom look like? How might it change their interest in their own education?

3. Survey 2 — 5-10 minutes

Distribute Sample Market Research Survey 2 to students and give them 4-6 minutes to examine it with a partner. Ask students to consider what types of information this would give to a journalism team and how that information might change the way the team approaches the publication’s future, advertising strategies and social media strategies.

4. Large group discussion — 10-15 minutes

Discuss Sample Market Research Survey 2 with the whole class, going to each pair and keeping track of students’ insights on a document camera, overhead projector, or the white board. A student might record the responses while the teacher leads the discussion. Ask students how this this type of survey is similar to and different from the previous activity about student learning styles. What might journalism look like if journalism staffs were more concerned with the specific viewpoints of their audience? What are some of the benefits to doing this? The drawbacks? How can staffs work to ascertain the viewpoints of all of their constituents?

5. Slideshow — 20 minutes

Distribute the note-taking guide and show the slideshow about market research, defining market audiences, survey construction methodology, and rules for working with statistical data. Continue asking questions for student discussion while showing this PowerPoint.

6. Final survey examination — 5 minutes

Distribute Sample Market Research Surveys 3 and 4 and explain how students should examine and evaluate these sample surveys for homework, being ready to discuss them in small groups the next day.

Day 2

1. Review — 10 minutes

Distribute the review formative assessment to review the concepts from Day 1 and ensure that most students understand the purposes for defining market audiences and the basic guidelines for constructing market research surveys.

2. Group analysis — 15-20 minutes

Divide students into groups based on which market research survey they analyzed for their homework. Allow students time to discuss their analysis and evaluation of the surveys and to come to a group consensus about the strengths and weaknesses of each survey.

3. Presentations — 10 minutes

Prompt each group to present their market research survey and explain the strengths and weaknesses of each.

4. Large-group discussion and questions — 10 minutes

Transition to a discussion about what kinds of questions are most important for understanding a market audience in terms of promoting a publication, selling advertising, and developing a social media strategy. The teacher might ask students to suggest questions they especially liked from their sample surveys, write 3-5 good questions in their small groups, or create a rubric in a small group to share with the class about what a good market research survey might look like.

5. Large-group discussion — 10 minutes

Finish class with a discussion about how social media is changing public relations in terms of the way journalists reach out to an audience, sell products, and distribute various media products, and what kinds of implications these changes pose for a public relations strategy. Each student might write their ideas on sticky notes, share with a partner and then share with a class. The discussion could also happen in the same small groups, or the teacher might conduct a carousel discussion activity in which various posters are placed around the room for different types of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.) and students write down their thoughts on these posters for how each social media type poses exciting and challenging changes for public relations and journalism.


If a group finishes their analysis of a single survey quickly, considering asking them to examine a second survey and compare and contrast their insights of the two.