Re; SUV's

Chris Kromm ckromm at
Mon May 28 06:14:48 PDT 2001

The second phrase of the book's title -- "what we buy" -- is suggestive, no? Most of these "demographic" studies are, in the end, marketing analyses. At least that's been my experience... CK

----- Original Message ----- From: "Michael Pugliese" <debsian at> To: "lbo" <lbo-talk at> Sent: Sunday, May 27, 2001 7:42 PM Subject: Re; SUV's

> Someone (most likely someone in marketing!) just checked this out of
> downtown library. Anyway, in my glances through it the other day, the
> constructs 62 different psycho/socio/economic/geographic/cultural consumer
> niches in the USA. Are you an urban, double cap' lactose intolerant, New
> York Review of Books readin', foreign film festival goer, that refuses to
> buy war toys for your boys? Or do you a suburban byer of the latest
> apocalyptic bestseller fiction of Tim LaHaye that prefers George Jones
> I like that pathos!) to George Elliot? Anyway, slice and dice any "taste"
> sub-culture that can be commodified- and what hasn't been?- and it's here.
> Lotsa colored maps too. has the first chapter online.
> Michael Pugliese
> P.S. Just remembered a similiar book by Mark Gerzon, from a few yrs. back.
> He has 6 big categories. "A House Divided: Six Belief Systems Struggling
> America's Soul." (Gerzon, btw, wrote a book on the Columbia SDS rebellion
> '68, have not read it..."The Whole World Is Watching.") I had a chuckle
> about his chapter on progressives- favored reading matter, Utne Reader and
> Mother Jones. In her Broadway play with Jane ?, Lilly Tomlin, made some
> funny one-liners about Mother Jones and the ads by Good Vibrations.
> The reviews at give the Gerzon a thumbs down. I'd agree. Give
> it a 10 minutes skim though.
> Heh, my step-Mom loves Martha Stewart AND Le Ann Rimes...give these
> psychogeodemographers a pomo text on the fractured, divided self.
> The Clustered World: How We Live, What We Buy, and What it All Means About
> Who We Are by
> Michael J. Weiss
> From the Publisher
> Michael Weiss expands on the geodemographics of The Clustering of America
> with this fascinating look at the sixty-two new lifestyle "clusters" that
> define who we are by what we buy. Clustering has become a widely accepted
> business concept throughout the world, revealing a global village of
> who have more in common with foreigners of the same cluster than they do
> with their fellow countrypeople.
> From Publisher's Weekly - Publishers Weekly
> It's a brave new world for marketers, thanks to the data-gathering efforts
> of computers. With their number-crunching ability, it's now possible to
> identify many characteristics shared by residents of specific
> including age, income level, education, buying habits, favorite forms of
> entertainment and consumption of brand-name products. Weiss is one of the
> pioneers in developing this form of demographic profile, first introduced
> 1988 in his book, The Clustering of America. A decade later, as his new
> relates, much more is known and some things have changed. From the
> established urban areas of the U.S. to the emerging consumer nations of
> Eastern Europe, clustering analysis provides a practical snapshot of
> attitudes and behaviors. Among the 62 distinct American clusters described
> here are unique groups such as "bohemian mix" (they prefer jogging to
> golfing and like foreign videos), "old Yankee rows" (stamp collecting is
> out, lottery tickets are in) and "blue blood estates" (country clubs,
> housekeepers and tennis are popular) . Readers unfamiliar with the modern
> world of marketing may find this off-putting, but the cutesy labels and
> standardized profiles have turned out to represent a bonanza--for
> advertisers, product developers, politicians and TV producers, among
> others--because they produce results. As Weiss states, "Forget race,
> national origin, age, household composition, and wealth. The
> that defines and separates Americans more than any other is the cluster."
> minor complaint is the promotional nature of the contents, which focuses
> the work of a single market research company. Maps and illus. (Jan.)
> Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
> From The Standard
> Once, in the not-too-distant past, most Americans read Life magazine,
> watched the Ed Sullivan Show and drove cars made in Detroit.
> Today, in a nation of 270 million people, 100 million households, 260,000
> Census Block neighborhoods, hundreds of cable TV channels and millions of
> Web sites, mass culture is but a quaint memory. As author Michael J. Weiss
> observes: "When you say 'oil' in Rural Industria, a blue-collar Heartland
> cluster, residents think 'Quaker State.' In the family suburbs of Winner's
> Circle, the second most affluent lifestyle, they think 'extra virgin.'"
> Rural Industria? Winner's Circle? That's the way the landscape looks when
> you gaze through Prizm, or the Potential Rating Index by ZIP Markets,
> a lifestyle-based segmentation system created by Arlington, Va.-based
> marketing research firm Claritas. Weiss, a fellow at the Columbia School
> Journalism, continues his exploration of that landscape in The Clustered
> World, his third book on the topic of Prizm.
> The book is part chronicle of American culture and part brochure for
> marketing-research companies, Claritas in particular. Overall, though, it
> gives a fascinating, and at times unsettling, glimpse of a nation divided
> it enters the 21st century.
> Formulated in the 1970s by sociologist-cum-marketer Jonathan Robbins,
> is based on the old folk wisdom that "birds of a feather flock together."
> Robbins took that simple idea and founded a new area of marketing research
> known as "geodemographics," which suggested that birds of a feather not
> flock together, but also pursue similar lifestyles, buy similar products
> consume similar media. Today, the notion of geographic segmentation has
> evolved into the "clustering systems" of Weiss' title, which are used to
> define people according to their every preference, from bowling alleys in
> Florida to social policies in Sweden.
> Prizm classifies neighborhoods through dozens of surveys. U.S. census data
> is combined with demographics on new-car buyers from R.L. Polk, on TV
> viewing habits from A.C. Nielsen, on consumer buying patterns from
> Research and Simmons Market Research Bureau, and more. (For fun, type in
> your ZIP code at ...
> In 1988, when Weiss first wrote about segmentation in The Clustering of
> America, Prizm broke down the nation into 40 clusters. Since then, Prizm
> split the populace further into 62 clusters in 15 major social groupings.
> The current clusters range from the wealthiest - the "Blue-Blood Estates"
> communities like New York's Scarsdale, Maryland's Potomac and Illinois'
> Winnetka - to the nation's poorest - the "Southside Cities" in such towns
> Opa-locka, Fla.; Greenville, Miss.; and Petersburg, Va.
> Interesting, but not exactly the stuff of the New York Times' bestseller
> list. Still, Weiss manages to breathe life into the topic with numerous
> personal encounters. "All told, I logged nearly 80,000 miles and
> more than 400 people," he notes. "Local residents, politicians,
> librarians, clergymen, even street people - anyone who could give voice to
> his or her cluster lifestyle."
> Though he's clearly a fan of clusters (who else would define homelessness
> a lifestyle?), Weiss maintains his distance. "As a journalist," he writes,
> "I saw the dual potential of the clusters: as a clever way to sell soap
> an insightful guide to understanding how people live."
> Weiss decides that the truth about clusters lies between the two, and the
> result is a chronicle of American life reminiscent of Alexis de
> Studs Terkel and Charles Kuralt - with a little Idiot's Guide to
> Geodemographics thrown in.
> In the second half of the book, Weiss provides details about each of the
> American clusters. For instance, there are the "Country Squires,"
> 1 percent of American households. Country Squires rank fourth in
> socioeconomic status, range in age from 35 to 54, have an average income
> $75,000 and a median home value of $230,300. Populating towns like Chagrin
> Falls, Ohio, and Woodbury, Minn., they're moderately Republican and
> concerned about issues like tax reform and eliminating affirmative action.
> Their preferences include sailing, business trips by air, personal
> computers, Scotch, gourmet coffee, Saab 9000s, classical radio, Frasier,
> Martha Stewart Living and Forbes magazines. They don't like country music,
> Mexican fast food, Mary Kay cosmetics or pagers.
> Weiss' book also looks at the expansion of clustering techniques abroad.
> There are now Canadian clusters and European clusters. The international
> counterparts of Claritas' Prizm include Compusearch's Psyte in Canada and
> Eperian Micromarketing's Mosaic in Europe.
> This raises an interesting question: Do New York's Blue-Blood Estates have
> more in common with their European counterparts - the "Clever
Capitalists" -
> than they do with, say, the American "Rustic Elders" who may live just a
> mile away?
> Yes, says former Eperian executive Emily Eelkema. "There are neighborhoods
> in Manhattan that are more similar to ones in Milan than in Brooklyn. The
> yuppie on the Upper East Side has more in common with a yuppie in
> than with a downscale person in Brooklyn. Neighborhoods in Fargo, N.D.,
> very similar to Friesland in the Netherlands as well as Calabria in
> Italy. From a day-do-day perspective, their lifestyles, attitudes,
> motivations and products are all very similar. They're more provincial and
> concerned with family and friends."...
> CACI has its own neighborhood segmentation system, called Acorn ..., which
> classifies Americans into one of 42 groups. Another competitor is the
> Stanford Research Institute and its Values, Attitudes and Lifestyles
> VALS sorts
> respondents to its questionnaire into eight categories, such as
> "Believers" and "Strugglers."
> Of course, the concept of putting humans into groups is nothing new.
> he didn't have a fancy acronym way back in 370 B.C., Hippocrates had a
> system for categorizing people according to temperaments and
> predispositions. The idea resurfaced in the theories of Freud and Jung,
> Jung's "psychological types" were dusted off in the 1950s by Isabel Myers,
> whose ideas grew into the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a test that upward
> a million people take each year.

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