October 04, 2008

Zip Code Marketing: Claritas PRIZM and Hillstrom's Zip Code Forensics

Some of you are wondering about the differences between Claritas PRIZM Clusters/Segments and Hillstrom's Zip Code Forensics. Here's a quick comparison of the differences.

Claritas PRIZM Clusters/Segments: Each zip code (or zip+4) is categorized into one of more than sixty different lifestyle segments. Each segment is given a clever name, describing the type of person who lives in that segment. Demographic studies, surveys, and data are compiled to create a profile of the type of person who lives in that segment. The segments are well defined, and help the user understand "who" lives in a particular area --- you hear the segment name "Shotguns And Pickups", and you have an immediate image of the demographic of that area. This segmentation scheme can be used to improve direct marketing activities, as each brand is likely to align with customers who spend a lot, and live in specific segments. The cost of using PRIZM clusters is reasonably expensive, though marketers can gain an acceptable ROI.

Hillstrom's Zip Code Forensics: Each zip code (not at a zip+4 level) is categorized into one of six different performance and channel preference segments, similar to traditional zip code models used in zip code marketing programs.
  • Catalog Crazies: Highly productive zip codes that prefer traditional direct marketing.
  • Online Bliss: Highly productive zip codes that prefer e-commerce and online community.
  • Catalog Fans: Average zip codes with a traditional direct marketing preference.
  • Online Spend: Average zip codes that lean toward e-commerce.
  • Catalog Preference: Zip codes with customers who do not spend much money on direct marketing, but do prefer traditional direct marketing (i.e. catalogs).
  • Online Preference: Zip codes with customers who do not spend much money on direct marketing, skewing toward e-commerce if they buy something.
The direct marketer will use Hillstrom's Zip Code Forensics to target geographies that have higher-spending customers --- especially when the direct marketer is looking at marketing activities that perform at or below break-even levels.

The direct marketer can expect to reduce marketing expense by about seventy percent by targeting only Catalog Crazies and Online Bliss zip codes --- while improving sales performance by about ten percent, yielding a significant increase in profitability.

Hillstrom's Zip Code Forensics is based on anonymous sales data by channel, at a zip code level, from leading catalog brands across the United States. Mathematical Algorithms and Census Data combine to yield the six segments mentioned earlier in this post.

Hillstrom's Zip Code Forensics is FREE (yes, I said FREE!) to customers who contribute anonymous, annual sales data by channel by zip code, with free quarterly updates as catalogers continue to add their sales data to the algorithm. For marketers using the segmentation scheme across at least 200,000 in annual marginal catalog circulation, it is expected that a positive ROI will be achieved, based on beta tests conducted earlier in 2008.

Folks who do not contribute anonymous, annual sales data by channel by zip code will be charged a fee of $5,000 for an annual license.

Contact me (kevinh@minethatdata.com) for details or to participate.