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Mail Smarter- Lifestyle Data that Makes a Difference

Posted by Brian Berg Google+

Consumer mailing list experts will all agree; lifestyle targeting is a vital tool in any direct marketer’s toolbox of marketing tactics.  This week our BB Direct blog series, “Mail Smarter” takes an in-depth look at all that lifestyle segmentation entails and how businesses can use this consumer mailing list selection for their next direct mail marketing campaign.

Adding consumer lifestyle data takes your consumer mailing list data a step further.  This data recognizes that the way people live (lifestyle) influences what they purchase as much as where they live (geography) or their age, income, or occupation (demography).  Lifestyle data enables you to include people’s interests, opinions, and activities and the effect these have on buying behavior.

Concentrations of lifestyle segments create demand for specific products or services.  This tendency to clusteris based on the premise that “birds of a featherflock together.”  Did you ever notice that the homes and cars in any particular neighborhood are usually similar in size and value?  If you could look inside the homes, you’d find many of the same products.  Neighbors also tend to participate in similar leisure, social, and cultural activities.

The quality of a segmentation system is directly related to the data that goes into them.  High quality and useful systems allow you to predict consumer behavior. In a retail business targeting tourists, for example, the systems allow the business to identify products and services that appeal to this market segment.  The usefulness of a segmentation system depends on how well the data incorporates lifestyle choices, media use, and purchase behavior into the basic demographic mix.  This supplemental consumer mailing list data comes from various sources, such as automobile registrations, magazine subscription lists, and consumer product-usage surveys.

Several private data firms offer lifestyle cluster systems. The firms use data from the U.S. Census and other sources to separate neighborhoods throughout the United States into distinct clusters.  They utilize sophisticated statistical models to combine several primary and secondary data sources to create their own unique cluster profiles.  Most models start with data from U.S. Census block groups that contain 300-600 households.  In rural areas, the data is more typically clustered by zip code.

Lifestyle segmentation generalizes the types of customers in your trade area, which is helpful in making sense of a complex market.  This simplification, however, may not fully capture the particular traits of your customer base or may overlook the richness of groups in your area.  Furthermore, since data are not continually updated, lifestyle segments are based on a snapshot in time.  This works well if social and economic conditions remain constant; however, significant changes may make the segment less representative of reality.   Therefore, although lifestyle segments can greatly help you understand customers in your trade area, you should take care not to place too much weight on segmentation systems. Instead, regard the information as a part of the mix of demographic data.

Not currently using lifestyle data for your consumer mailing list selection process?  You could be missing out on a valuable target audience!  Contact a member of the BB Direct Data Team at (866) 501-6273 to make lifestyle targeting data work for your next direct mail campaign.