BUS 347: Consumer behaviour

Attitude change assignment

Reader/consumer demographics

Your main source for detailed demographic data of the readers of many Canadian magazines and newspapers.  

  • See this document for a recent list of the magazines and newspapers covered by Vividata. 
  • Learn by doing! Try the sample questions in the Practice section of our Introduction to Vividata guide. Note that the answers may differ in the live database if the database content has been updated since the guide was written.

Media kits
Many (but not all!) magazines and newspapers will offer a media kit with details on their circulation, ad rates, and readers (demographics). Search for your target magazine's site and look for links to Advertisers or Media Kits.  For example, see this group of kits for Quebecor Media Group (includes Canadian Living, among others). Or how about this page of resources about Globe magazines (e.g., Report on Business)?  Also see this more detailed 2019 kit from Zoomer Magazine. (Zoomer's newer media kit content is no longer packaged as a PDF. Instead, they have an "Our Audience" web page, but it still contains the same sorts of information.)

On website traffic data sources
An increasing number of websites offer to provide detailed data on the visitors to specific webpages (e.g., SimilarWeb). Such resources are unlikely to offer the depth, quality, and precision of consumption and readership data available via a consumer survey-based resource such as Vividata. They are also unlikely to offer the level of cross tabulation needed for your assignment. Moreover, it can be dangerous and misleading to conflate visits to a product's site with consumption of that product. Vividata remains the core resource for your "attitude change assignment." That being said, website traffic data may supplement your analysis if you can find enough methodology information to evaluate the quality of the information and to justify to your instructor the quality and relevance of the data for the purposes of your assignment.

CARD Online
Provides advertising rates and related data (e.g., circulation numbers) for many print and broadcast media in Canada. It covers magazines, newspapers, radio and television stations and other advertising media -- although coverage of both ad costs and circulation numbers isn't always available for every media outlet. CARD does not provide demographic details on readers/viewers.

Media Digest (2016/17 edition)
This publication is no longer being updated, but it might still provide some basic historical information you can build on with other resources. The Media Digest includes detailed information on the Canadian market for a variety of media: everything from the age breakdown of the viewers of different TV channels to circulation, page rates, and readership of many magazines. 

TV viewer demographics
Vividata provides detailed demographics for the viewers of many (though not all!) TV channels and shows. Browse the "Television (Specific)" category in the database to start. In general, though, TV viewer demographics are usually harder to find than similar data for magazines. If you need to analyze a TV ad, you may not be able to gather enough publicly-available information to complete your assignment.

Companies, brands, and products

Online access to detailed Canadian consumer data at the brand level. Vividata removed all brand-level data from the academic version of its database in the summer of 2022. For instance, you can no longer find data on  the consumers of specific beer brands, but you can still find data on consumers of beer in general by frequency of consumption as well as by the kind (draft, craft, etc), form (cans, bottles, etc.), and price point (premium, discount, etc.) of the product.

Data on consumers and consumption around the world. Start by reading the Consumer Lifestyles in Canada report for a solid summary of Canadian consumers (ages, schooling, income, major buying habits, etc.).  Also look for reports on the brand/company/product type. Note, though, that Passport does not provide the same level of demographic detail for consumers of specific brands that the Vividata reports contain. 

Business Source Complete
Includes industry publications (e.g., Automotive Industries) and advertising publications (e.g., Ad Age (prev: Advertising Age)) that report on consumer trends, company/brand news, and specific ad campaigns.

Ipsos News & Polls
Reports (with methodology and data tables in most cases) on consumer preferences and opinions. Strong Canadian focus, but very random regarding the specific products or services covered.  Be sure to scroll to the bottom of each survey summary to look for Detailed Tables.

Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX)
Data on the demographics of consumers of broad product and service categories in the United States from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

This news database has a special "expert search" feature that will help you focus on news stories about branding or marketing issues experienced by specific companies. See this annotated screen capture for an example.  See also our Nexis Uni database for yet another source of business/industry news.

Encyclopedia of Global Brands
Reports on 270 different brands, each of which covers “how a product originated and was first marketed, how it developed commercially and how it fares today compared with its competitors and its own past history.” These reports are unlikely to address the specific campaign you are analyzing, but they may provide some valuable background.

Encyclopedia of Major Marketing Strategies 
Reports on major campaigns of the past: Who were the marketers trying to target? How did they do it? How successful were they? Also see the older publication: Encyclopedia of Major Marketing Campaigns. Possibly useful for context on your target brand or product type, but note that all campaigns discussed are from 2013 or earlier.

Case Studies from ebooks and print books
Many books about branding contain detailed case studies of real branding situations (good and bad). Also try this broad search for articles that contain branding case studies and check our SAGE Business Cases collection of teaching cases.

International Directory of Company Histories
This online collection of brief company histories provides key strategic milestones in the development of many major companies/brands. See, for instance, this history of KFC and this one of Coca-Cola.


 Literature review assignment

Screen capture of the title slide of the video: Spying on a Conversation: Literature Review Assignments in Business

Watch the following video for tips on how to approach this sort of assignment: 

Spying on a Conversation: Literature Review Assignments in Business 

What are scholarly journals?

You will definitely need to find scholarly literature on your topic for your essay and your presentation.  For a review of what scholarly literature means, start with: What is a Scholarly Journal?

Note that many databases have a feature that allows you to limit your results to scholarly/peer reviewed journals. Using this will remove most of the non-scholarly articles from your results, but not all of them. You still need to evaluate each article to be sure that it is truly scholarly.

How do I find scholarly articles?

Different databases provide access to journals in different subject areas. For your assignments, focus on searching in Business Source Complete and PsycInfo as those databases cover most consumer behaviour journals.

Feeling inefficient when you search the databases?  Spend a few minutes watching this video to save hours of searching: Only 4 Steps: Researching in Academic Business Journals. (Note that the Library website has changed since this video was made, but the 4 Steps remain as time-saving as ever.)

Having difficulty reading the dense articles in such journals?  Check out the resources in our Baffled by dense academic writing? Start here! blog post.

Below are  some common "consumer behaviour" subject headings used in each database to get you started.

Business Source Complete:

  • Consumers - Attitudes
  • Consumer behavior
  • Consumers' preferences
  • Attitude (Psychology)
  • Consumer satisfaction
  • Consumers
  • Customer loyalty
  • Advertising


  • Consumer attitudes
  • Consumer behavior
  • Consumer psychology
  • Consumer research
  • Consumer satisfaction
  • Consumer surveys
  • Retailing

Finding books

Why use books

Books sometimes have a reputation of containing old information, but a quick subject heading search for "consumer behavior" in the SFU Library catalogue will find dozens of useful books and ebooks, many of which were written in the last few years. In addition, remember that consumers are people and human nature doesn't change much in the short term: older books aren't necessarily outdated!

Starting point!
A good book can give you a broad overview of your topic: a single source listing the key subtopics, issues, and relevant articles you need to start exploring.

Evaluating information from books

Be careful to evaluate the information you find in books. In particular, always ask where the information has come from: was it from the author's own experience, a detailed study, or a range of studies listed in a bibliography? Would you trust the information you found if you had to use it to make a million-dollar decision?

Searching for books

Start by searching with the following subjects in the SFU Library catalogue, but also try keyword searching to find books with just one chapter on your topic. For instance, "The Oxford handbook of consumption" has chapters on a number of key themes in consumer behaviour research, each of which could be an entry point into that part of the field. Similarly, see "The Routledge companion to consumer behavior analysis."

A few sample ebooks/books

Help with research, writing, citing, and more!

You will be researching, evaluating, citing, writing, and presenting information from the moment your instructor gives you an assignment to the day you hand it in. We have information and experts available in the library to help with all of those steps... and much more!  

Start by checking to see if we have online tutorials & guides or workshops that will answer your questions. If you don't find what you need there, contact the library via online via chat or email.

For BUS 347 specifically, you may find the following presentation and literature review assistance useful: 

  • Presentations: SFU Library has many books and e-books on “business presentations” and “public speaking.”  Start with this guide to such resources. 
  • Literature Reviews: The literature review guides from the Student Learning Commons will be particularly useful for this course.  See also this detailed how-to guide

You are also welcome to email me (Mark Bodnarmbodnar@sfu.ca) with questions. It makes things much more efficient if you start your email by explaining...

  • what class you are in;
  • when the assignment is due;
  • what exactly you are after (saying that you need research on "consumers & beer" is far too broad - saying that you need to know how to find "academic studies done on the effectiveness of beer advertising among Canadian Millennials" is better (though not necessarily simpler!));
  • where you have you looked so far (have you tried the library catalogue, PsycInfo, Business Source Complete, etc.?);
  • and what search terms you tried when you searched.

I always try to reply to emails within two business days.  However, sometimes that reply will be a series of clarifying questions or a suggestion that we book a Zoom meeting to discuss complex topics. Don't wait to the last minute to start discussing your research!