It is not lost on commercial organisations that where we live colours how we view ourselves and others. That is why so many now place us into social groups on the basis of the type of postcode in which we live. Social scientists call this practice “commercial sociology”. Richard Webber originated Acorn and Mosaic, the two most successful geodemographic classifications. Roger Burrows is a critical interdisciplinary social scientist. Together they chart the origins of this practice and explain the challenges it poses to a long-established social scientific beliefs such as: • the role of the questionnaire in an era of “big data” • the primacy of theory • the relationship between qualitative and quantitative modes of understanding • the relevance of visual clues to lay understanding. To help readers evaluate the validity of this form of classification, the book assesses how well geodemographic categories track the emergence of new types of residential neighbourhood and subject a number of key contemporary issues to geodemographic modes of analysis.
Chapter 4: The Wider Adoption of ‘Commercial Sociology’
The Wider Adoption of ‘Commercial Sociology’
Marketers’ use of data on different neighbourhood types
In the early 1970s CACI, a US consulting organization, obtained a licence from the US Census Bureau to act as a census agency. This permitted it to hold statistics for census tracts and to resupply these in formats which met the needs of US retail chains. Within minutes a fast food chain could use an online system to access demographic data for the catchment area of any potential new outlet. Being able to evaluate a potential new location with such speed, the chain could now home in more quickly on available sites which had the greatest chance of commercial success.
In 1978 a similar agreement reached with ...