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How to get your Demographic Research right

How to get your Demographic Research right

By Guy Mucklow, MD of Postcode Anywhere

Mailers promoting lingerie to lorry drivers, fridges for Eskimos and mail order wine club offers to teetotallers present text-book examples on the pitfalls of not carrying out your market research.

These may seem extreme examples of where marketers get their demographic research wrong. 

Of course you can’t be 100 per centsure that every mailer you send lands on the right doormat, but there are proven tools that will help you target the right audience.

Demographic profiling has become a valued marketing practice and as technology advances it is becoming more accurate.

Postcode recognition has played an instrumental part in segmenting data into different social groups is not a new concept, but it has become even more of an exact science as searching techniques have become more refined.

For instance a recent study carried out by the University College of London’s Geography faculty, has made more than just a tenuous link between social status and the actual name of a street or road.

The findings revealed that if you reside in those roads ending in Wood, Common and Chase you are more likely to belong to the aspiring classes, whereas not so affluent occupants live at addresses ending in Buildings, Court or Estate.

So in essence, your address may reveal far more about you than you’d expect. .

Whilst this particular research is comparatively new and has identified links between the names of roads and streets as opposed to geographical mapping, the postcode as a social indicator has been used by large organisations for some time

Previously smaller companies were denied access to this sort of technology because of its cost. However, the growth of the internet as a means of delivering information has made what was previously the province of the “big boys” affordable to any organisation, no matter how small.

Every day a diverse range of people receive marketing material that has no relevance because clearly they are not the target audience. For instance, how many elderly people living in affluent retirement areas get inundated with mailers offering mortgages and bank loans?

Conversely, why send an expensive brochure for a £50,000 car to someone with a £10,000 income?

Smaller organisations have largely remained unaware of the potential of profiling their data and have also been put off by the cost.   Actually, it’s pretty cheap and very easy to profile customers so you get the “best bang for your buck”.

For example licensing models such as pay-as-you go make the service accessible to anyone, even if they have only a few addresses to profile and basic web service tools can be used to cleanse and profile existing data in real time, so the user can segment their mailing list and select the prospects who are most likely to respond to the offer they’re marketing.

We hope that in future organisations will segment their data based on reality, rather than snobbery.


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