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Adventures in Marketing Research: SimplyMap


It's already been a couple of months since I and a colleague attended a morning of presentations by budding entrepreneurs finishing up their session of FastTrac® NewVenture™. Two weeks before that event my colleague and I did a presentation here at SIBL for them - our Market Research and library resources "boot camp". Now we had a great opportunity to see for ourselves how, and to what extent, these folks have used our SIBL resources to help create a five minute "pitch" of their businesses.

In Market Research, there is no one size fits all. Web entrepreneurs will have a different research perspective than those who want to start a "bricks and mortar" retail operation. As was brought home to me at the FastTrac event, in the latter case one of the most useful electronic resources available here at SIBL is our database SimplyMap, which will be the subject of the rest of this posting.

What is SimplyMap? Well, it has two parts or functions—one, as the name indicates, a map. The other creates reports of statistical data from the database's menu of variables. The map function serves as a Geographical (sometimes Geospacial is used) Information System (GIS) program allowing the user to "simply" map, or project, one data set on all or part of the U.S. In the market research context, this allows you to profile a specific geographic area, and/or compare one or more areas for different kinds of demographic or other variables.

So, on to an example using median household income for midtown Manhattan, including our SIBL area—both zipcodes (a report) and census tracts (maps). Information will be for 2000 (Census count), 2010 (estimate) and 2015 (projection).

 Bounded by E. 37th Street, Third Avenue, E. 32nd Street, and Fifth Avenue.], Digital ID 1511788, New York Public LibrarySIBL Neighborhood - 1916As a side note—for those of you interested in maps and mapping, don't forget that NYPL has an excellent map division, from which many maps have been included in our NYPL digital library (like the one to the left here). Also, we have a map rectifier online program, layering old maps over current geographical information (like this one showing the same map as an overlay).

Anyway—here are some of the examples of what can be generated, with links to pdfs of full versions:

Median Household Income, 2000 - by Census Tract


Median Household Income 2015 (projected) - By Census Tract

Locations Geographic Unit HH Inc., Median ($), 2000 HH Inc., Median ($), 2010 HH Inc., Median ($), 2015
New York County, NY County $47,811 $65,027 $75,168
10016, New York, NY Zip Code $67,516 $92,832 $106,540
10010, New York, NY Zip Code $64,837 $89,418 $101,234
10003, New York, NY Zip Code $61,796 $83,843 $93,905
10001, New York, NY Zip Code $44,466 $61,215 $71,341
10011, New York, NY Zip Code $63,318 $87,877 $98,701
ALL OF USA   $42,781 $55,970 $67,791

Table Showing Median Household Income for SIBL Zipcode (10016) in Comparison with Other Midtown Zipcodes


Bar Chart for Median Incomes (Generated using Microsoft Excel)

[PDF of Table and Bar Chart]

Explanation of Choices of Presentations: The map examples were produced customizing both the data ranges and map colors. Census tracts were used to better present variations in small geographic areas. The report was exported to Microsoft Excel, from which a variety of graphic presentations can be easily created. Zip codes were chosen for the report to make selected geographic units more easily recognizable.

Lastly, here is a list of the variables currently available:

  • Census: data from 2000; estimates for 2007-2010; projections from 2012-2015
  • Consumer Expenditure (more detailed than the Bureau of Labor Statistics data): 2007 through 2015 projections
  • Business Counts: 2007-2010
  • Market Segments (groups of consumers, e.g., In the Armed Forces, Very Rich Households): 2009-2010
  • Quality of Life (criteria such as crime or weather) : 2009-2010
  • Consumer Price Index: 2009-2010
  • Retail Sales: 2009-2010
  • Sales Potential (e.g., Amusement Index - A higher value indicates more than average amusement opportunities near the geography): 2009-2010
  • MRI Consumer Survey Data (sales of a large variety of goods and services by number of households and percentage of households): 2007-2010
  • Life Stage Clusters (young, middle-age or older households, further broken down by income, marital status, etc.): 2007-2010

For a live demonstration of how to use SimplyMap, please feel free to visit us any time at SIBL. You can access this database on our computers (no time limit) or on your own laptop through our wireless network.


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

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