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Are you the same as your neighbours?

February 26, 2013

2012-11-18A while ago I wrote a blog post about socio-economic groups (SEG) and why researchers might want to pigeonhole you somewhere along the posh scale.

Believe it or not, asking you ten questions about your job and how much you earn is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding your poshness.  These days it is possible to ask fewer questions, but make many many more assumptions about what you are like.

Some organisations think SEG is clunky or out of date, and use a kind of SEG+ instead which is referred to as a lifestyle or geo-demographic classification.  Two examples of this are MOSAIC and ACORN.  Basically MOSAIC and ACORN do massive big surveys across the UK asking all sorts of questions about lifestyle, and from the results they categorise every postcode into a lifestyle-based category (and this is complex – MOSAIC for example has 67 household types in 15 groups).  It is an approximation based on a huge amount of data, but basically they are saying that people tend to have similar lifestyles to others living in their postcode and that across the UK these lifestyles can be boiled down into a number of categories.

If researchers collect a respondent’s postcode they can run this against MOSAIC or ACORN.  The respondent is then allocated to their lifestyle category and this is used to segment research findings.  So as a respondent all you need to give is your postcode, but the researcher can classify you alongside others who are likely to have similar lifestyles across the country. You will be termed (amongst many other things) a ‘side street single’, a ‘crash pad professional’ a ‘skyline senior’ or ‘serious money’ (yes really) each of which brings with it a whole swathe of information about the probable make-up of your family unit, and the type of house you probably live in, and the income you probably earn, and your likely shopping habits.

Researchers can append all of this to your survey responses, and for analysis purposes they can put you into a sub-group with others who are likely to have similar lifestyles.

As a client this is really practical if you want to know where to place your advertising (‘squires among locals’ say they would be likely to buy a product / get a list of postcodes where ‘squires among locals’ live / put your poster campaign in these areas).

On the other hand it isn’t as neat as SEG for a researcher.  You need to do massive surveys to be able to do robust sub-group analysis on 15 sub-groups.

Additionally, I have heard a lot of people say that they don’t like to be automatically lumped into a category with their neighbours.  People don’t like to think they are predictable or the same as everyone else…

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