Did you know that where you live gives marketing professionals a good idea of your lifestyle, demographics, and other consumer preferences to assist in targeted marketing strategies? Where you live can reveal what you like to buy, who you are, and even help marketing professionals create a profile that define those that live around you based on similar tastes and behavior.

I was recently invited to present to Professor Trevor Iles’ Principles of Marketing course in TU’s College of Business and Economics on the use of GIS technology and spatial data to support targeted marketing analysis. Visualizing customer data on a map and understanding the makeup of the geography of your customers can be very powerful in targeted advertising, growth opportunities, and more!

Identifying Customers by Understanding Lifestyles

While there are various datasets that assist in targeted marketing, I shared a spatial dataset called Esri’s Community Tapestry with the students because it is a fun and exciting way to review lifestyle segments. This data gives insights into identifying customers by understanding lifestyle choices, what they buy, and how they spend their free time. Using data with a locational aspect, such as ZIP codes, allows us to identify the “who” of lifestyle demography and the “where” of local geography. Esri’s Community Tapestry data provides an accurate, detailed description of U.S. residential areas, which are divided into 65 distinctive segments based on their socioeconomic and demographic composition, and then further classified into 12 summary groups based on lifestyle and lifestage and 11 summary groups based on geographic and physical features along with income.

As an example of a profile using Esri’s ZIP Code lookup tool, the 21204 ZIP code surrounding Towson University is segmented as College Towns where about half of the residents are enrolled in college, while the rest work for a college or the services that support it. These are nonfamily households with many students living alone or with roommates for the first time. This market is bike and pedestrian friendly. Limited incomes result in thrifty purchases. They are heavily influenced by celebrity endorsements and trends in magazines, own a laptop, blog, download music, and enjoy backpacking pilates, and Frisbee.

View of the 21204 ZIP code in Esri’s ZIP Code lookup tool.

It’s always exciting to see students engage in the discussions and to be able to relate their coursework and in class topics to spatial data and visualizations. I was also able to show the students examples of using this powerful data to learn more about the students themselves and gain a better understanding of the locational makeup of our student population.

Professor Iles stated, “The students were fascinated to see what TU’s Center for GIS was doing and to realize the depth of data involved and the power of mapping software.”

In what ways can the students use this data in future coursework or in future professions?

  • find out where a product or service is getting the most attention
  • where to launch a new product based on lifestyle preferences
  • understand consumers to reach them accordingly with the right media
  • understand the demographic and socioeconomic composition of current customers based on location

GIS and geospatial data acts as an integrator to many disciplines and I am excited to see these students use technology to develop potential marketing strategies in their future!