Use Demographic Segmentation Tools Not Only For Marketing

People always fascinate me: different lifestyles, different backgrounds, different races and different behaviors. I never get tired of observing more and more about what drives them, what makes them engage in certain activities and what happens afterwards once “the pot gets stirred” skillfully by social trends or sometimes by actions of fellow-marketers.  Simultaneously, this entire process serves my own purpose as a consumer of the environment I want to be in. What I find myself doing is segmenting the “market” of a social event or a city to see what experiences I can have as a consumer of a social interaction. Perhaps, all of us do that. And yes, nothing beats the hands-on approach of going into the “field” and actually experiencing all the combinations in that or this zip code yourself.  But, as they say, being forearmed is half the victory.

So, while thinking about potential move to a bigger city like San Francisco, Chicago or New York (with all the benefits we already know), I find it useful to utilize PRIZM or other demographic segmentation tools to see the degree of how those cities can be attractive to me based on the social crowd.  And it might not be the news as we all have learned about the stereotypes, and some, are, granted valid in describing what to expect, I still believe it pays extra to dissect the population into more statistically accurate attributes. By doing this, you can predict the quality of your social life, professional success and other experiences based on the patterns discovered. As consumers, at least here in the states, we became very sophisticated and educated at what we want, like, dislike and how it should be served. Sometimes, this thought scares me when I feel like I have to look for niche-services already since I know what works well.  Sometimes, I wish I were as open as a child – when simpler choices were of existence.

Going back to the segmentation tools, as an example, I wanted to first validate the accuracy of experiences I had in Seattle and only then quick-check the potential Chicago can provide. I also wish that US. Census got more up-to-date and more detailed reports, as most of the information is based on 2000 reports – Hello?! It has been almost a decade and people moved, changed in proportion due to natural causes considerably since then.  Thank God, we have commercial software that can solve those problems and allow us see the light or to be precise the stripes on the map.  What if you do not have access to this information through those tools? Again, US Census or city-data.com site can provide you with rough but workable ideas on the demographics (alongside some extra ads).  Example, for Bellevue showcases graphs on gender distribution, age, income and housing situation and I must say it is very close to accurate even if the site uses 2000 census data and 2005 projections. 

But, what I found most exciting is the information on foreign-born residents (remember, one of the attributes of the social mix I was looking for?), it provides a neat chart as well! It describes the following distribution of nationalities (hence potential social interactions flavored by cultural attributes): 

  • Mexico (13%)
  • India (10%)
  • China, excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan (7%)
  • Vietnam (5%)
  • Korea (5%)
  • Russia (5%)
  • Ukraine (4%)

Information like that can provide me with insights on how diverse the locality is and will the mix be appealing to my social taste?

Digging deeper, there is always PRIZM, a tool that can share the details on lifestyle preferences.  According to the report on my zip code, the groups are: 44% New Beginnings, 22% Young Influentials, 21% Gray Power, 19% Home Sweet Home and 8 % Executive Suites.   If we take Young Influentials into consideration, the tools describes the segment as ” Midscale, Younger without Kids yuppies that reflect the fading glow of acquisitive yuppiedom.  Today, the segment is a common address for younger, middle-class singles and couples who are more preoccupied with balancing work and leisure pursuits. Having recently left college dorms, they now live in apartment complexes surrounded by ball fields, health clubs and casual-dining restaurants. ” It also goes into the details of: median income ($47,976), lifestyle traits (plays racquetball, drives mazda 3), demographics traits (suburban crowd, midscale income, age < 35, mostly renters without kids, college graduates, mix of ethnic groups). Very neat tool! You can definitely learn much about your audience! How about a Lifestage group? “Young, hip singles are the prime residents of Young Achievers, a lifestage group of twentysomethings who’ve recently settled in metro neighborhoods. Their incomes range from working-class to well-to-do, but most residents are still renting apartments in cities or close-in suburbs. These seven segments contain a high percentage of Asian singles, and there’s a decidedly progressive sensibility in their tastes as reflected in the group’s liberal politics, alternative music and lively nightlife. Mainstream Singles segments are twice as likely as the general population to include college students living in group quarters.”  Each segment shares this level of granularity. Now, knowing all that does make a difference while making a decision where to live, work and play!

Too much information? If all that is too overwhelming, you can always turn to wikipidea that will outlay lightly some of the basics!