Get to Know Your Customer: Simmons Research & the Bluegrass Audience

By Katy E. Leonard (2008)

Gaining an appreciation for your customers is critical to any business that hopes to grow their base and understand changes in the market. In bluegrass, we pride ourselves on our personal relationships with those we do business with, but we can also rely upon valid research and statistics to help guide our decisions.

What is Simmons data?

Simmons data provides information on the behavior of the American consumer, measuring the products they buy and the brands they prefer, as well as their lifestyles, attitudes and media preferences. The National Consumer Survey (NCS), to which the IBMA currently subscribes, includes responses from 25,000 U.S. adults over the age of 18. This data is available through the IBMA as a member benefit. The surveys are conducted and released four times a year: spring, summer, fall and winter. The IBMA most frequently uses the full year survey, released each year in March, so that we may more fairly and accurately compare the data to previous full year studies. 

Categories measured include: lifestyle & demographics, newspapers, Internet & magazines, TV, movies & radio, food & drink, shopping, electronics, household products, home & office and opinions. The information on consumer behavior alone includes over 600 psychographic measures (attitudes and opinions). The data on product and brand consumption includes over 8000 brands and over 425 categories. 

The data can also be divided into 30 different household groups, known as “cohorts,” by demographics, lifestyle and consumer behavior characteristics.  The groups fall into one of three categories: married couples, single females and single males.

How does Simmons quantify who is a bluegrass consumer/listener?

Under the category of “Entertainment and Shopping,” and the subcategory “Music,” the person completing the survey is asked to “Please indicate the types of music you like and listen to most. Also indicate the types of music you bought and those you downloaded, burned or recorded in the last 12 months.”  There are 45 different genres of music options with examples listed next to the genre, including AC pop (Celine Dion, Elton John), hip hop (Nas, DMX) and bluegrass (Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs).  The person completing the survey is asked to check a box indicating the genre as “Type Like Most,” “Bought-Most Often,” “Bought – Also” and/or “Downloaded/Burned/Recorded.”

The 2007 number of bluegrass listeners/consumers---17,280,000 U.S. adults—is drawn from a combination of those who indicated they like bluegrass most, bought bluegrass most, also bought bluegrass, or downloaded, burned or recorded bluegrass, with duplicates eliminated.

Simmons data can be used to quantify our audience, understand how to reach them, appreciate their attitudes and opinions, factor in changes to your efforts, develop advertising and sponsorship, and to open doors to events, broadcasting, retail, etc. 

When you request Simmons data from IBMA, know that it is not just “something” we send. We are obtaining data from a system. You should have a sense of your objectives for the data—be very specific. We will work with you to draw out information from thousands of questions.  To access Simmons data, contact the IBMA office by email or 888-438-4262. Please allow three to seven days for processing.

Bluegrass Listeners/Consumers by State (sample)

North Carolina
Weighted Total

772,000 bluegrass listeners/consumers
37% more likely to listen to/consume bluegrass than U.S. Adults

Weighted Total

1,490,000 bluegrass listeners/consumers

27% less likely to listen to/consume bluegrass than U.S. adults

Fast Food Restaurants Visited
                           Bluegrass Fans            More/Less Likely*
Hardee's           2,420,000                       +78%

McDonalds's    9,819,000                        +4%

Burger King      5,663,000                        +8%

Attitudes About Life                                  More/Less Likely*

I like to do unconventional things             +40%

Music is an important part of my life        +24%

It is worth paying extra for quality goods +11%

*"More/Less Likely" as compared to the total U.S. adult population. Source: Jan 2007 - Nov 2007 Full Year Study