Want to Know Your Neighbors’ Purchasing Habits?


Nielsen, the rating company, has created a fascinating tool known as PRIZM® .

PRIZM is the industry-leading lifestyle segmentation system that yields rich and comprehensive consumer insights to help you reveal your customer’s preferences. PRIZM combines demographic, consumer behavior, and geographic data to help marketers identify, understand and reach their customers and prospects.

PRIZM defines every U.S. household in terms of 66 demographically and behaviorally distinct types, or “segments,” to help marketers discern those consumers’ likes, dislikes, lifestyles and purchase behaviors. Used by thousands of marketers within Fortune 500 companies, PRIZM provides the “common language” for marketing in an increasingly diverse and complex American marketplace.

(the above is all from the Nielsen web site)

PRIZM allows the casual user to use it ZIP Code Look-up feature for free to view a neighborhood’s household segments within any ZIP Code. Typically, a ZIP Code search would provide a registered user with over a dozen segments for a given segment, but the free tool allows anyone to  view a neighborhood’s top five segments, along with a descriptive snapshot about each segment’s characteristics for any Nielsen segmentation system.

Here is an example of what the results look like when I type in my zip code:

prizm demo

The five segments returned are the top five segments, listed in alphabetical order (if you would like to see the results listed in order by largest to smallest segment, then you need to be a registered user).

Since none of the five seem to define my household situation (all five above are for households without kids), I’ll just select one of them (Upper Crust) as an example of the type of info you can get from this database.



I do have one thing in common with the list of traits – I am over 55…

For comparison purposes, let me type in the zip code of where I went to grade school, Bridgeport, PA (it borders King of Prussia).

Here is the list of the top five segments:


And from this list, let me select the Sunset City Blues segment and show you some of its traits:


Once again, not much in common except the age thing again.

What is interesting to note however, are the distinct differences between the two segments. First, there there is a significant difference in average incomes – $110,000 vs. $40,000. I also like how they paint a picture of someone in each segment, reducing people to a narrowly defined stereotype, such as “Oh, you’re the kind of guy who drives a Suzuki SUV, shops at Office Depot, reads romance novels and Catholic Digest, and watches Inside Edition.” What can I say, that describes me perfectly…

I imagine having this type of info must be heaven for marketers, enabling them to answer questions such as Who are my best customers?, What are my best customers like?, Where can I find my best customers?, and How can I reach my best customers?.

I find the results fascinating, and I encourage you to have some fun with this tool, and see how closely it defines people in your zip code.

Here is the link for the Zip Code Tool.

And by the way, I’m still searching for that zip code that has people with the following traits, “drives a 10 year old Toyota Matrix, reads any book that is available for free on the Kindle, reads Sports Illustrated at the local Barnes & Noble, bought last suit at thrift shop, shops at Mom’s Organic, lives a vegan lifestyle, watches Curb Your Enthusiasm and Nathan for You”.

If anyone knows where that zip code is, please let me know; hopefully it’s close to Sarasota, Florida.



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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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