Today I found a blog from The Wall Street Journal about how the zip code that you live in could dictate who you are. Mapping behemoth ESRI mashed Census data along with marketing data from GfK Mediamark Research & Intelligence and tries to predict what you will buy according to the zip code you live in.
The mapping piece is beautiful, the map moves smoothly and the graphics are top notch. The descriptions of the socio-economic levels are stereotypical and questionable.
I did some spot checking around my area in South Jersey to see how the data compares to my own local knowledge. I gave to say that in the zip code that I live in ESRI did get the fact that there are a lot of apartment dwellers in my hometown correct. What they did not get right was the fact that a lot of these apartment dwellers are not millennials, instead they are middle class families. Looking at the Census data can tell you that.
I also found the categories in the “Top Tapestry Segments” incredibly insensitive and stereotypical.
Case in point: Camden City Zip Code 08110
This area in Camden is broken down into:
36% American Dreamers: Basically foreign born married couples and older people
30% Parks and Rec: People who live in older more established communities
18% Urban Villages: Recent immigrants who do not speak fluent English
The Urban Village description is the one I find most offensive. “Shopping for trendy clothes for the whole family is important so we can be fashionable”. Why is this connected to the urban poor? Why play up to stereotypes? I think that this map has some really good uses but I think that it delivers its message poorly.
Check out the map here and feel free to leave your comments.
I’m speaking at the National Association of Cartographic Information Society’s (NACIS) annual conference next month. I’m giving a presentation during the Geographic Data Collections Day session. Stop by and listen and say hi!
A few months ago I was browsing at a local bookstore looking for something interesting to pick-up. Lately I’ve been very interested in Business topics because I hope to convert this blog into a money generating stream. I stumbled upon a book called “Business Plan In A Day”, by Rhonda Abrams. It promises to help the reader create a business plan. The author says that it will take 24 hours (non-consecutive 24 hours because you will have to do some research) to get craft your plan). The book covers “The Anatomy of a Business Plan” (9 steps total) and has a chapter devoted to each step. I’m going to specifically review Step 3 which is about understanding your Target Market.
This is a great chapter because the author points out some resources that are free such as census data to show your customer demographics. She also mentions reading market and industry reports, researching trends and using customer surveys to get a good grasp of your market.
This section goes over:
- Targeting your market location and reach your target market
- Describing the demographic characteristics of your target customers
- Explaining customer patterns/motivations
- Determining market size
- Evaluating market trends
I found the book very easy to understand. It is laid out in a way that you can work on each chapter independently so that you don’t become overwhelmed with the process. There are worksheets that can be filled out by hand the reader can keep notes in one place for reference later on. Ms. Abrams doesn’t illustrate how to access the data so a tutorial on the process would have been helpful.
You can find the book here and wherever books are sold.
One crucial part of a business plan or a grant is the section on who your potential customer base/client base is. This information is vital to your bottom line whether you’re reaching out for funding or pricing your services to customers.
Why spend a ton of money having someone else crunch numbers and send you a report that you can create on your own for little to no money. How so? By using data that is already available. One of the most widely used sources of data on people is census data. You can get all types of stuff including income, education, languages spoken, family composition many times down to the neighborhood level. Sometimes it does take a little work to understand what you are looking at but I guarantee that the info that you find will be very eye-opening. Imagine you want to know the income level of an area because you are thinking about opening a business or want to get funding for a grant to help children receive after school tutoring. Demographic data can help you find the best place to serve your community or open your business.
Here are some websites that you can peruse to see what data is available.
US Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov
Statistics Canada: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/start-debut-eng.html
United Kingdom Office for National Statistics: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/index.html
Mexico Census (site is in Spanish): http://www.inegi.org.mx/
Showing that you have really done your homework can make your proposition stand our from among the crowd. And with all the competition out there who doesn’t want any advantage they can get?