Know Thy Neighbor and the Car He Drives


Keeping up with the Joneses requires that you know who they are. What better way to find out than by looking up their demographic data by simply typing your zip code into this website? Here you’ll find out your area’s top five lifestyles as defined by Claritas, which was acquired by The Nielsen Company, one of the world’s largest market research firms. Claritas’ PRIZM system categorizes the US into 66 demographically and behaviorally distinct types, or “segments” to help marketers sell you more stuff you don’t need.

You can see all 66 segments here, including how much consumers in each segment earns, what car they drive, where they shop, and even what magazines they read.

My parents live in a town whose top five segments are (in descending order of affluence):

As for my current neighborhood in south Harlem with a ZIP code of 10031:

So, according to Claritas, people in my neighborhood purchase cosmetic supplies from mail-order catalogues, read Ebony, drive vans, and watch BET while my parents’ neighbors shop at Saks Fifth Avenue, read Conde Nast Traveler, drive Mercedes SL Class, and watch the Golf Channel. Really? Who watches golf?

In other news…I recently read the book What Americans Really Want…Really. It felt good, after weeks of reading nothing but bite-size news articles while commuting to work, to sit down in Barnes and Noble and just read for hours on end until I finished a sizable piece of prose. Yes, I skimmed some parts. But 336 pages in two days ain’t bad. Even if I did skim some parts.

The author is Frank Luntz, a political consultant and pollster. I don’t know much about his background and work, but his prose is clean and concise.