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By our Zips do they know us

Brief by Central Staff

Demographics – July 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

In the June edition, we learned about the relationship between crime risks and postal Zip codes (when introduced in 1963, ZIP was an acronym for “Zone Improvement Plan” — some of us are old enough to remember postal zones in big cities, like “New York 17, N.Y.”)

Now we’ve discovered that there’s a lot more you can learn from a Zip code. The CACI company in Virginia has compiled the “ACORN neighborhood segmentation system,” which comprises 44 groupings that range from “1A: Top One Percent” (wealthiest neighborhoods in the U.S.) through “3B: Enterprising Young Singles” (who dine out frequently) to “9B: Institutional Populations.”

CACI has a website, and it offers free samples. So we plugged in some of our Zip codes, and here’s what we learned.

Salida and Saguache are 7G: Heartland Communities. “Their citizens are older, life-long residents; their children have moved away. This is a good mail-order market for clothing and shoes, and they are top-rated for vegetable gardening, flower gardening, and buying videos at discount stores. They are likely to own a dog.”

Westcliffe, Pitkin, Fairplay, and Villa Grove are 4E: Rural Resort Dwellers. “These are the locals who reside in rustic getaways, including retirees who have opted for fresh air and the great outdoors. Remote and rural, these communities depend upon seasonal trade to sustain the local economy. Four-wheel-drive vehicles, camping equipment, and domestic trips reflect their lifestyle. Top-ranked for gardening equipment, owning large dogs, and taking vitamins.”

We wouldn’t have thought they’d note any major difference between residents of Villa Grove (Villa Grovers?) and residents of Moffat (Moffations?), but CACI classes Moffat as 7D: Prairie Farmers, whose “population is aging and decreasing in size. Practical and conservative, they are top-ranked for having 2+ cars, taking personal domestic trips, and using commercial banks. Their top-ranked activity is hunting and fishing, and they are likely to own pets.”

Just down the road, Alamosa is 6D: Southwestern Families, Hispanics who “have resided in the U.S. for generations,” with a “young population [that] reflects an emphasis on children and family. The average family size is 20% higher than the U.S. average with a median age of 28 years. Their lifestyle is both urban and rural with spending being family-oriented purchases. They own 2+ cars and television is their medium of choice.”

The other college town in the area, Gunnison, comes in as 5A: Twentysomethings. “Still unsettled, this market is just completing college or starting a first, postgraduate job. Most are single, mobile, and city dwellers, who are young, active, and urban.” (And how do they manage to be “urban” in Gunnison?) “This is the second-ranked market for fast food and they are also dieters. They read books, but the medium of choice is television.”

Go north from Salida, and you find 7B: Young Frequent Movers in Buena Vista, Granite, Twin Lakes, and Leadville. “They are young families with a country style and a bit of wanderlust. They are more likely to have loans than investments or savings. This is the top-ranked market for pet ownership. Their purchases portray family life and they participate in team sports, take domestic vacations, and purchase fast food through drive-ins.”

We were somewhat surprised that there were data for Granite (34 households), Pitkin (38 households), and Villa Grove (35 households), but not for Crestone, Howard, Hartsel, or Poncha Springs.

We suppose that the corporate marketers and planners, who pay for much more detailed reports from CACI, will just have to guess about those populations. Meanwhile, we’ll be looking for a franchise fast-food joint with a drive-up window in Granite.