What is a ring study?
A ring study is a demographic profiling and market analysis tool. It is often used by commercial businesses performing a location analysis to decide on where they may open new operations. Ring studies are also frequently used by real estate enterprises, developers, and others concerned with the economic prospects of a given area. In addition, the information revealed in a ring study can be useful to researchers, academics, and anyone else trying to define the demographic makeup of a single isolated area.
Every ring study captures a demographic snapshot of a given area, including key details about its population, economy, and growth over time. The goal is to capture a literal and figurative bird’s eye view of an area, so researchers and business leaders can make informed decisions and further their own understanding.
Anyone considering the economic prospects of a given location can use the results of the study to inform further inquiry before they make any major decisions.
Why Is It Called a “Ring” Study?
It is called a “ring” study because it is performed by choosing a specific site and then studying the area around it within a given radius, generating a perfect circle on the map.
Ring studies yield information on households, neighborhoods, infrastructure, and other key factors on a selected area within a specific radius. It essentially creates a quick demographic “cross-section” to study, like looking at the rings of a tree from a slice in its trunk.
Ring studies can be performed concentrically, meaning several profiles can be developed based on a series of larger radiuses, creating several geographic “rings” around a given site. They can also be altered to a polygon study, where the area of interest is fenced in by chosen parameters. Demographic data is then generated for everything that falls within the polygon
How Big Is a Typical Ring Study?
Technically, a ring study can be any size. The most common ring sizes are 1 mile, 3 miles, 5 miles, and 10 miles.
A ring study can be 100 miles or even larger, in some cases. However, as the radius gets larger, the area of study gradually encompasses a wider variety of different communities. Having lots of different communities in a single large ring means it’s harder to create a single profile or understanding of the given area.
When deciding on a ring study size, several factors to keep in mind include:
- Demographic specificity: As mentioned above, larger study areas create less-distinct trends in population, making it harder to gain the intended cross-sectional understanding.
- Geographic barriers: One major reason a multitude of trends arises from a larger radial study is that geographic barriers start to cut through the study area. A large radial study may include an undeveloped area, a lake, or two distinct regions connected mainly by a single road or bridge, all in one ring. These concerns may warrant a polygonal study for the larger area as a whole.
- Travel patterns: Physical distance and barriers like lakes or mountains aren’t the only factors that determine who is likely to visit a given area. Road access, traffic, and site visibility all play a part in who may be present in the studied region. Consider these factors and how they affect people’s tendency to shop, live or work somewhere. They all provide context for why demographics in a given area look a certain way, beyond the physical distance from a ring study’s chosen center.
- Consider the differences in multiple concentric rings: The demographic nature of a ring can dramatically change as it covers different areas of a given geography. For example, a location in an industrial area may reveal that few families live within 1 mile, but in the 2-5 mile radius are several neighborhoods. Keep all of this information in mind when making informed decisions.
What Information Is Conveyed in a Typical Ring Study?
Ring studies are, in many sense, infinitely customizable, provided someone wants to put in considerable research. However, some categories of demographic information can be retrieved instantly through an EASI Demographics On-Demand Ring Study. This quality makes our demographic-based ring studies fast, affordable, and ready to provide instant insights.
EASI Demographics sources several types of information, known as variables. Our variables and data are sourced from the U.S. Census, American Community Survey (ACS), and other relevant and reliable studies. These include official governmental reports and data published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and others.
Examples of common variables depicted in our ring studies include:
- Total population
- Number of households
- Average number of children per household
- Average income of household
- % of households with children under age 18
- Population by age bracket, e.g. # 55-64 year olds in a given ring
- Population by year, i.e. population growth trends
- Number of Spanish-speaking individuals
- Number of homes worth $500,000 or more
Variables may also relate to infrastructure and the current economic activity in the area, such as:
- Employment data
- Number of retail businesses
- Number of schools
- Number of hospitals
- Number of commercial buildings used as offices
- Total GDP
- Per-capita GDP
- Retail spending
- Hospitality spending
Example ring studies can be found at the following links:
What Are the Best Uses of a Ring Study?
A ring study should be considered as a “snapshot” to give you a quick understanding of the region surrounding a given focal point as well as the regions immediately outside. Often, individuals use them for preliminary planning and to get buy-in for further interest in a project or research study.
Ring studies can set the groundwork for further inquiry through a polygonal study, ZIP code study, and other secondary research. They can also inspire future primary research, including foot traffic studies, surveys, interviews, and detailed site analyses.
Essentially, a ring study helps answer the most-important questions about an area, allowing decision-makers and researchers to begin narrowing down the defining characteristics of a given area. Ring studies may reveal helpful trends, such as a high ratio of single non-family households or a large percentage of individuals from a particular regional ancestry.
Generate a Ring Study Today
Ultimately, how you use a ring study is up to you! Because they can be so quick, easy, and affordable to generate using EASI’s On-Demand services, they provide instant insights to help you understand what makes a given area unique. They are also helpful to understand the viability of a project or site location, or they can direct more-focused research through initial fact-finding and demographic profiling.
Curious? Give it a try. It’s fast and even EASI-er than you would have ever expected. Visit our Demographics on Demand Ring Studies page to generate a single-ring or 3-ring study at a set price, 24/7.Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Pinterest