2.4 Demographic Data


2.4 Demographic Data

As we mentioned, demographics have long been used by marketers to segment and target consumers. Based on census population data, private firms such as Acxiom, CACI, ChoicePoint, DataQuick, Experian, Equifax, Polk, Trans Union, and others aggregate this data with additional lifestyle and socioeconomic information, reselling it at the zip-code or specific physical-address levels and matching it by various keys, such as an address telephone or Social Security number. To gain an understanding of the type of data that these aggregators provide, we will look at the InfoBase product from Acxiom.

Acxiom, like others in this industry, offers a wide variety of U.S. consumer, business, and telephone data. Their main product, InfoBase, includes mailing lists, database or file enhancement, analytical services, and telephone and e-mail data. InfoBase provides demographic, socioeconomic, and lifestyle data on individuals, households, geographic levels, and businesses. Acxiom, for example, can match household information to an address and return the data attributes listed in Table 2.1.

Table 2.1: Acxiom Infobase Basic Data Profile

Truck/motorcycle/RV owner

Aggregate value of vehicles

Adult age ranges

Children's age ranges

Occupation-first and second individual

Homeowner/renter

Length of residence

Dwelling size

Marital status

First and second individual name and gender

Verification date

Mail order buyer

Household status indicator

First and second individual age ranges

Working woman

Mail responders

Credit card indicator

Presence of children

Age range of individual

Number of adults

Estimated income code

New car buyer/leased car

Known number of vehicles owned

Dominant vehicle lifestyle

Apartment number

DMA do not mail/phone flags

Acxiom InfoBase basic data profile

Using public sources gathered from applications, registrations, and licenses for new corporations with secretaries of state, fictitious business names, business licenses, and trade names filed with either state or counties, Acxiom also aggregates information on companies. For business entities, Acxiom can provide the type of information listed in Table 2.2.

Table 2.2: Partial List of Type of Information or Companies Provided by Acxiom

Business Name

Tradestyle and Mailing Street Address

Primary SIC Code

Census Tract

MSA Code

Mailing Address Lines

DSF Delivery Type

State & County Code

Population Code

Phone Number (w/ area code)

Fax Area Code & Phone

Contact Name/Title

Self-Employed Flag

Standard Industry Market Title

Standard Industry Market Function

Age of Contact

Gender of Contact

Marital Status of Contact

Suffix of Key Contact (i.e. CPA. MD)

Owner Type

Owner Home Phone Number

Owner Birthday

Number In Family

PC Owner

Owner Gender

Type of Company

Individual or Firm Identifier

Owner Occupied

Ethnicity

Sales Volume Code at Location

Location Employee Size Code

Actual Location Employee Size Code

Sales Growth Range

Line of Business

Headquarters. Subsidiary Indicator

Business/Government Indicator

Public Company Indicator

Business Filing Type/Sort Code

Year Business Established/Start Date

Business Filing Date

Professional Flag

Secondary SIC Code

Import/Export Flag

Estimates of telecommunication and utility purchases

Products Manufactured

Fortune 500

Building Square Feet Actual

Number of Stories

Unit Count

Projected Utility Expenses

Type of Heating

Type of Cooling

Year Built

Plant Size

Assessed Property Value

As with other data providers, Acxiom also offers analytic services, including a data profile analysis offering, which does a comparison of one set of businesses with another set. This profile service enables the user to perform a statistical comparison of a firm against other companies in the same industry from the Infobase reference group or file. For example, using this type of profiling service, money-laundering investigators might ferret out dummy business entities set up as fronts, which appear legitimate but are in fact producing no revenue.

Neighborhood profiles are also available from these demographic data providers, such as CACI, which at the zip-code level offer an ACORN (a classification of residential neighborhoods) database, a geodemographic segmentation system. ACORN classifies U.S. households into 9 groups and 40 distinct consumer clusters, profiling by demographics, such as median age, socioeconomic (median household income), residential (median home value), and preferences in their spending patterns and lifestyle choices. The major groups include the following consumer clusters:

  • Group 1: Affluent families

  • Group 2: Upscale households

  • Group 3: Up-and-coming singles

  • Group 4: Retirement styles

  • Group 5: Young mobile adults

  • Group 6: City dwellers

  • Group 7: Factory and farm communities

  • Group 8: Downtown residents

  • Group 9: Nonresidential neighborhoods

These types of neighborhood demographics provide lifestyle information about individuals at the zip-code level, which traditionally has been used by marketers. The following is a partial description of Group 7, Factory and Farm Communities:

  • Demographic data: The demographic profile of these communities is similar to the U.S. population: family-oriented and predominantly white (but also including blacks, American Indians, and Hispanics). The median age is between 33 and 45 years. Most are married couples with children.

  • Socioeconomic data: Their median household income ranges from $27,000 to $40,400. Employment is average; unemployment below average. Most work in manufacturing, farming, mining, or construction.

  • Residential data: These households are in rural neighborhoods located in the Midwest and South and also in urban areas throughout the United States. Occupants live in single-family and mobile homes. Their homes are owned-occupied and valued between $52,800 and $86,600.

  • Preferences data: This market style is rural, but not remote. Commuting long distances to work is a way of life. Most of the households own vehicles. They hunt, fish, and listen to country music. They also enjoy eating fast food and renting videos. They own pets, have personal loans, and watch TV.

Group 7, Factory and Farm Communities, consists of seven lifestyle clusters:

  1. Middle America: top vegetable gardeners, high cat ownership, country music, campers, chain saws

  2. Young frequent movers: loans, trucks, SUVs, videos, country music, pets (cats and dogs), hunt, fish

  3. Rural industrial workers: top dog owners, high used-American truck buyers, country music

  4. Prairie farmers: top cat owners, top used-car buyers, high home improvements, high borrowers

  5. Small-town working families: hunt and fish, trucks, videos, diets, country music, women's magazines

  6. Rustbelt neighborhoods: needlework, movies, sitcoms, soap operas, bifocals, lottery, news tabloids

  7. Heartland communities: high vegetable gardeners, large American cars, campers, chainsaws, tools

Typically, marketers use these types of demographics for segmenting their customers and prospects in order to construct composites or profiles of their most profitable and loyal clients. However, these same types of demographics may be applied to overlay additional information about suspects in order to develop composites for investigative data mining applications.