What is Baseline Data?

Definition: Baseline data is a set of information often employed to compare other data acquired afterwards. It serves as the foundation of most research projects.

What Does Baseline Data Mean?

In order to study different subjects, researchers require a certain degree of previous information to establish the scope and reach of their investigation. This information is often called baseline data, since it serves as the starting point for the research project and it can help the researchers to develop hypotheses founded on results obtained previously by other investigators. For companies, baseline data is particularly important to keep research projects small enough so they can be actually funded. Consulting and research companies often provide these broad data sets where different conclusions, findings and hypothesis can be drawn to develop deeper research studies more associated with the company’s target market or segment.

A baseline data, in this case, can be the gender distribution of the country, state or city where the company functions. By using this data, companies can understand what’s the actual size of their market and then they can develop further studies to understand the behavior of the segment they are interested to reach. Baseline data also serves as comparison, since it can be weighed against new information obtained from other sources to judge the accuracy or relevance of this newly acquired set of data.

Example

Fami Toys Co. is a company that designs and manufactures educational toys for small children from 3 to 10 years old. They have been in business for 3 years and they currently have two very successful products already in the market. Nevertheless, the company has seen its sales drop recently since the design of both products appears to be unattractive for new generations. They decided to do a little research about the colors and images children prefer.

A consulting firm called Mosley and Sons Co. provided the baseline data required to start developing hypothesis for the research. This information included color preferences per age and gender and a research study that contained the 100 most appealing images for kids between 5 and 10 years old. This information was very useful for Fami Toys since they could employ the findings to develop prototypes that were later evaluated by using small focus groups.