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    PEOPLE WHO LOOK THE SAME CAN BE VERY DIFFERENT

    Weston, Florida, by all appearances, looks like a homogenous community. Street after street of identically beautiful homes occupied by equally identically beautiful families. But, outward appearances can be deceiving. Within this small community there are different types of beautiful households occupied by people with different lifestyles, habits and preferences.

    Weston is a young, affluent community butting up against the Everglades in western Broward County, 15 miles from Ft. Lauderdale. According to the U.S. Census estimates, its median household income is more than $138,000 per year, two-and-a-half times the national average. More than 80 percent of residents are white and most of the city’s families are traditional, with 80 percent of children living in homes with both parents.

    Weston is compact, with just four zip codes covering the city’s 21,800 households, so marketing there would appear to be a slam-dunk. A company wishing to reach affluent customers should be able to pick one or two zip codes and efficiently rake in new customers.

    Analyzing U.S. Census data by zip code is a good start towards creating an effective target marketing campaign, but it doesn’t go deep enough in providing the information needed to provide the critical difference between scoring big and missing the mark.

    That’s why the biggest, most successful companies in America turn to Lifestyle Segmentation research to drill down deep to identify their true target customer groups. Invented more than thirty years ago and refined today by such research companies as Claritas and Experian, lifestyle segmentation groups people into different categories based on the lifestyles they lead and the neighborhoods in which they live. Each neighborhood in the U.S. is assigned to one of the system’s sixty lifestyle cluster codes based on Census data, proprietary research and credit reporting history.

    The profiles are amazingly detailed, evaluating more than 300 different lifestyle elements. When marketers analyze communities using this fine level of information, they can pinpoint their best customers and prospects, eliminating waste and improving the effectiveness of their message.

    In Weston’s case, there are two similar, but distinct family subsets living in adjoining communities. While they share many characteristics, their differences can have a great impact on a marketer’s strategy and tactics.

    One group, identified as Enterprising Couples by Experian’s Mosaic Lifestyle Segmentation system, is predominately baby boom families, ages 45-64 with older children (tweens and teens, aged 10-17). The other group is called New Suburbia Families. These are Gen-X households, aged 25-44. Their children range from infants to pre-teens. While families from each group share many similar lifestyle characteristics (they’re fairly conservative, work in professional white collar jobs, use the internet with great dexterity and favor driving SUVs and minivans, it’s their differences that make the difference.

    Enterprising couples earn more money than their younger counterparts. They’re twice as likely to have high dollar value investment portfolios (more than $50,000)or invest in collectibles. If they don’t drive a Honda Odyssey, their favorite car is a Cadillac CTS.

    New Suburbia Families, on the other hand, prefer driving Mercedes C-Class sedans and are twice as likely to have college savings accounts for their kids. They’re more likely to participate in sports activities, particularly skiing.

    When it comes to the Internet, Enterprising Couples are most attracted to e-trade.com, while New Suburbia Families are drawn to monster.com. They’re also more likely to use online yellow pages. The older Enterprising Couples are much more likely to order their prescriptions by mail or over the phone, while the younger New Suburbia Families use that method to buy home furnishings.

    Enterprising couples are more likely to read the New York Times, go to the theatre, listen to jazz or classical music on the radio and watch news programs on television, while New Suburbia families prefer USA Today, visiting theme parks, listening to soft rock and sports radio and getting their news online.

    We’ve only scratched the surface here, but you start to get the point. While both these groups earn similar incomes and live in similarly valued homes, the difference in their ages makes a big difference in many of their lifestyle habits and preferences.

    A marketer looking to sell valuable collectible items, like artwork or fine crystal, would probably find more success marketing to some Enterprising Couples, while a recruiting message from a swanky pre-school would probably be more useful to the New Suburbia Families.

    What’s especially interesting about this analysis is these two groups basically live on opposite sides of the same major street running through Weston: Enterprising Couples to the north and New Suburbia Families to the south.

    Think this is an unusual circumstance? It’s not. All over the United States, subtly different neighborhoods of similar-looking people live side-by-side. Purchasing a mailing list based on household income by zip code wind up viewing their target market from 30,000 feet in the air. From that altitude, distinguishing one group from another is impossible.

    Instead, target marketers get up close and personal by looking at block groups, the neighborhood-sized segments of zip codes that can pinpoint the location of each lifestyle cluster. In the Weston example, there are eight block groups within the four zip codes we analyzed earlier. Enterprising Couples and New Suburbia Families each dominate three separate block groups, while the other two contain entirely different lifestyle groups.

    The zip code marketer would have to send more than 23,000 pieces to every household in the city of Weston. The target marketer, on the other hand, can send 5,250 pieces to just the Enterprising Couples, or 13,513 pieces to the New Suburbia Families. Not only will they save thousands of dollars in printing and mailing, they’ll also improve their response rates by eliminating the households unlikely to do business with them.

    When you have access to detailed information that’s customized and analyzed for your business, you can make easy, confident decisions about your marketing, getting the results you want by reaching the customers who want you.