It's no secret that mutual fund companies have done a deplorable job of researching the behavior of their consumers. Industry executives point out that for years the likes of Procter and Gamble have been examining consumers' attitudes toward laundry detergent while consumers' feelings about investment products have been largely ignored.

Recently, some have been touting the benefits of researching consumer demographics. In a landscape where mutual fund supermarkets play an increasingly important role in fund companies' distribution models--and where each of those supermarkets are charging a mint for shelf space--executives say researching consumer demographics can save money and help companies more effectively market their products.

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