CAMPAIGN DIRECT: Can consumer profiling experts get the measure of admen?

It’s now received wisdom that the UK’s direct marketing industry has formidable consumer profiling techniques at its disposal. So formidable, indeed, that the EU has just published a set of very strict data protection laws. But is perception in line with reality? Are the profilers really as good as their reputation? In the solemn spirit of public service (and hoping for a bit of a laugh along the way), Campaign asked two of the leading profilers - Experian and CACI - to work their magic on two ’consumers’ from the media and direct marketing agency world. All they had to go on were the two basics - name and address - and, because we’re generous folk and wanted to make things a bit more interesting, their ages. The results, we think you’ll agree, are intriguing. By ROBERT DWEK

It’s now received wisdom that the UK’s direct marketing industry

has formidable consumer profiling techniques at its disposal. So

formidable, indeed, that the EU has just published a set of very strict

data protection laws. But is perception in line with reality? Are the

profilers really as good as their reputation? In the solemn spirit of

public service (and hoping for a bit of a laugh along the way), Campaign

asked two of the leading profilers - Experian and CACI - to work their

magic on two ’consumers’ from the media and direct marketing agency

world. All they had to go on were the two basics - name and address -

and, because we’re generous folk and wanted to make things a bit more

interesting, their ages. The results, we think you’ll agree, are

intriguing. By ROBERT DWEK



CACI PROFILE: Acorn category A, type 1, among the most affluent

neighbourhoods in the UK. Wealthy, high-status areas on the

suburban/rural fringe, found predominantly in the Home Counties.

Majority of this group live in large, detached houses with one or more

cars. Typically well-educated, professional people, middle-aged,

corporate mana-gers enjoying the fruits of their labours ... a frequent

business traveller, probably with a choice of company car ...

company-paid private health insurance ... a broadsheet reader with

strong propensity towards the Financial Times, also likely to read the

Telegraph and be conservative in nature, unlikely to read the Daily

Mirror ... high telephone bills but is probably still only considering

telephone banking.



Has an interest in golf and skiing holidays ... frequently uses

cross-Channel auto transport to get to the Continent ... isn’t much of a

shopper, has no interest in TV, fashion, clothes, football pools or

bingo ... Likely to shop by mail-order but only from upmarket

catalogues.



GOTTLIEB’S VERDICT: ’A strange mixture of quite accurate and wildly

inaccurate. For example, I do use telephone banking and to say I have no

interest in TV is bollocks - I’ve got six sets in my house and I’ve also

got satellite -but they’re spot on about the type of house I live in,

the company car and private health insurance. They’ve obviously pitched

me up in age, which explains why they have me down as a Telegraph

reader. In fact, the only papers I get at home are the Sunday ones - the

Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday. My supposed interest in golf -

incorrect - is no doubt also an age thing.



’I’m not into skiing holidays and I don’t know where they got that bit

about cross-Channel transport since I can only recall going once in the

past two years. To say I’m not much of a shopper is bullshit - you only

need to look at my credit cards, although I’ve never bought by

mail-order and am not part-icularly interested in upmarket catalogues.

Some of the stuff is pretty bloody obvious, such as not playing the

pools or bingo, and could probably be deduced just by looking at my

house. The profile starts to fall apart is when it makes guesses about

my lifestyle and shopping habits.’



EXPERIAN PROFILE: MOSAIC group ’High Income Families’, type ’Clever

Capitalists’, Financial MOSAIC type 11, ’Captains of Industry’. London

Tribe type 19, ’Golden Achievers’ in ’nice neighbourhoods’.



Property owner likely to be highly entrepreneurial, high-earning

individual, probably with own business ... could be into broking,

commercial trading, import and export ... likely to have considerable

equity investments and own the house outright.



However, the subject’s age does not fit well with the age ownership

profile (usually 45-55), which suggests this could be a family-owned

home and he is likely to be living with other members of his family ...

he is likely to be a privately educated individual coming from a

wealthy, traditional background, cosmopolitan in outlook, articulate,

enjoys foreign travel and highly cultured ... prob-ably reads the FT and

the Wall Street Journal.



Plenty of credit cards, with balances usually paid back in full each

month ... catalogue recruitment mailings likely to be disposed of

unopened ... enjoys living with London right on the door-step and makes

extensive use of restaurants, theatre, cinema etc.



Will occasionally go out to the country but would find living there too

slow and parochial ... likely to own a BMW or Mercedes, P-, R- or

N-reg ... enjoys golf.



GOTTLIEB’S VERDICT: ’It’s staggering: I’d give it eight out of ten,

compared with about two for the other one. There’s so much that’s

absolutely true - for example, the credit cards, owning the house

outright, feeling country life would be too slow, binning mail-order

stuff. The newspapers, however, fall victim to the higher age profile of

my area - I wouldn’t read the Wall Street Journal if you paid me.

Playing golf is also incorrect. And my relative youth for this neck of

the woods has foxed them when it comes to family arrangements - they

seem to think I might be living with my mum when in fact I’ve got a

young family of my own. But I do have a P-reg BMW, which is quite

spooky.



’Overall, this feels massively more sensitive to me than the CACI

profile, but both of these profiles should serve as a reminder that

direct marketers carry a big risk if they get it wrong. Consumer

expectations are much higher if you address something to them personally

rather than using traditional broadcast media. It’s a bit like someone

coming up to you at a party and acting as if they know you when they

they obviously don’t. You want to punch their lights out.’



CACI PROFILE Acorn category C, type 18, urban neighbourhoods populated

predominantly by singles living in flats. Highly likely that he lives in

rented accommodation. A broadsheet reader: the Guardian, Independent, FT

and Observer likely, the Telegraph very unlikely. Particularly

interested in current affairs, a frequent business traveller. Goes to

the cinema ... is an avid wine drinker. Gives to charity, more likely to

be human rights charities such as Amnesty. Has a high phone bill and is

probably into telephone banking ... has a passion for skiing

holidays ... doesn’t have a dog or kids. Is unlikely to shop for garden

products or enjoy easy listening music, bingo, the National Lottery or

owning a satellite dish.



TOWNSHEND’S VERDICT: ’I’ve owned my own home for seven years. They’re

wrong about the newspapers too - I read the Telegraph and the Sun. I

wouldn’t call myself a frequent business traveller. I am an avid

drinker, but not just of wine. I’m more likely to give to a cancer

charity than to a human rights one. My phone bill is high but I don’t

use telephone banking. I have been skiing, though I’m not sure it’s a

passion. They’re right about the dogs, kids, garden products, bingo,

National Lottery and the satellite dish, but I am into country

music.’



EXPERIAN PROFILE: MOSAIC group ’stylish singles’, Financial MOSAIC type

’adventurous spenders’, London Tribe ’articulate metropolitan’. This

group represents people for whom self-expression is more important than

conformity ... They are often too busy experimenting and experiencing

life to want to get married early and postpone as long as possible the

responsibility of looking after homes, gardens and children ... they

prefer the vitality of the city to the tranquillity of the suburbs and

spend money freely on fashion, foreign travel, the arts and eating

out ... unlikely to be married although could be sharing his flat with a

girlfriend or old school friend. He has been a bachelor for a while and

could have been living at this address for a number of years ... he may

be thinking about the next step in life.



He is likely to be from a wealthy, old-money background (that helped him

to purchase the property in the first place), educated at one of the

best public schools and probably goes back to the family pile most

weekends.



He could be a director of his own company. Because he doesn’t have hefty

financial commitments, he can adopt a carefree approach to money. Ease

and convenience are more important when it comes to buying financial

services than interest rates.



TOWNSHEND’S VERDICT: ’All the stuff about my social group is spot on,

ditto well educated (I went to Eton). They’re slightly off on the stuff

about marriage because I got married very young, although since I’m

divorced now, I can see where they’re coming from. Their comments about

preferring the vitality of the city are absolutely right. They would

have been right about living with a girlfriend until recently. I am

thinking about my next step in life.



I do have a relatively carefree approach to spending, with ease and

convenience a priority. Overall, they seem pretty canny.’



Topics

Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).