Quantifying your marketing and management activity is important. This section will provide some useful local statistics and links to useful resources.

Demographics

One starting point for any marketing, PR or other communications activity is to understand and, as much as possible, quantify and profile the audiences you are targeting — whether they go under the name of customers, clients, stakeholders or publics. This is the field of demographic profiling, or demographics for short.

Demographics are statistics on topics including age, gender, type of housing, education levels, health, lifestyles and so on.

Understanding your audience’s demographics is an exercise that should be an early priority for three reasons:

  • it helps you to create focus for all your marketing and business planning and see what is realistic
  • it’s key to deciding your market segmentation
  • it should inform many of the processes you establish: the field structures of your databases, the categories and tags/keywords you use on your website and social media, how you collect and use web and social media analytics, even some aspects of your accounting system

You’re unlikely to get it perfect, and externally available statistics aren’t always going to fit the categories you want to work to — there are going to be many frustrations along the way — but the closer you can align your systems, data and external statistics, the easier it will be.

Let’s say you expect your most lucrative customers to be females aged 20-30.

In an ideal world your local council has statistics of how many females aged 18-30 live in the area, your sales records can identify female customers aged 20-30, your website can identify females aged 20-30 visited your site. You now have some compelling data to tell you how well you are performing in this market.

In reality, your local council may collect data on females aged 16-19 and 20-29, your sales system may be based on 18-24, 24-30 or whatever, and matching any figures will be impossible or unreliable.

Knowing where you want to be, even if you can’t get there immediately, will help you in the long term.

The base of most demographic profiling is the postcode system, which will be covered as a separate topic.

Demographic profiling tools

National Readership Survey Social Grades

The NRS classifications A, B, C1, C2, D, E were first developed for advertising and are well known and still in use.

However they have a number of weaknesses and in marketing have been taken over by more sophisticated systems such as ACORN, CAMEO and MOSAIC.

One problem with the NRS classification is that is classifies people by social class based on assumed (approximate) income levels.

However, these days income levels and ‘social class’ (a term that also causes problems!) do not necessarily relate.

The ‘E’ group is a particular example of this. Students, for example, will often buy according to their lifestyle aspirations and reflecting the type of background their parents belong to. Pensioners, also are sometimes very poor, but many now — the ‘grey pound’ — have much higher levels of disposable income and lifestyles that reflect the lifestyles they had when they were still working. Putting them all in the same category is not necessarily helpful.

 NRS Social grades

A Upper middle class Higher managerial, administrative or professional
B Middle class Intermediate managerial, administrative or professional
C1 Lower middle class Supervisory or clerical and junior managerial, administrative or professional
C2 Skilled working class Skilled manual workers
D Working class Semi and unskilled manual workers
E Non-working Casual or lowest grade workers, pensioners, and others who depend on the welfare state for their income,

ACORN

ACORN ‘A Classification Of Residential Neighbourghoods’ was a major step on from the NRS grades.

ACORN primarily classifies people by where they live, but over the years it has added on a huge wealth of data about lifestyles, social factors, consumer behaviours and other demographics. They also have specialist classifications for health, retail and leisure and offer a bespoke service.

Unlike a lot of demographic statistics which rely heavily on the census, which is only published every ten years (the last census was 2011), ACORN uses data as it becomes available.

Ipswich Borough Council uses ACORN classifications in some of its published statistics.

More information:

CAMEO

CAMEO is an international profiling, appending and address validation service covering 246 countries using census, government and commercial data.

Classifications include: housing, car ownership, internet usage, mail order responsiveness, risk and many more.

More information

MOSAIC

MOSAIC was developed by Experian (formerly CCN), originally based on consumer credit data. CCN grew out of GUS plc, the giant mail order and retail business that was renamed Home Retail Group and currently owns Argos, Homebase and Habitat.

Mosaic brings together over 850 million pieces of information covering 49 million individuals and 26 million households which it segments into 15 groups and 66 detailed types. It also holds name, address and telephone details, email addresses and mobile numbers that can be used for direct marketing.

More information


 

Further reading