Your zip code tells postal workers how to get you your daily pile of junk mail advertisements. Your zip can also tell advertisers what junk mail to send you. That’s the idea behind software company Ersi’s Tapestry Segmentation program.
The tool allows users (marketers) to type in a zip code and get an analysis of the people who live there based on U.S. Census Bureau and market research data.
Boise's North End
For example, if you live in the zip code 83702, which includes Boise’s north end, the program describes you as, “young, mobile, well-educated and well employed.” It also notes you work a lot, spend a lot of time online, go to the gym, are attached to your cell phone, buy organic and environmentally-friendly products, like Trader Joes and give to public radio.
All that and more comes from the description of the population group labeled "Emerald City." That’s one of 67 population groups or “market segments” the program uses. A zip-code profile includes the top three market segments of residents. The zip 83702 is mostly "Emerald City" but also has some people who are "Set to Impress" and "Metro Renters."
If you live in 83616, Eagle, you’re most likely to be well-educated, goal oriented and live in a two-income household. You prospered during the Great Recession. You also work a lot and struggle to balance that and activities with the school-aged kids you probably have. It probably helps then, that you don’t mow your own lawn or clean your own house. You do love to do household projects though. You’re great at using electronic gadgets, and have a lot of them, but you still get some traditional magazines for things like sports and cooking.
The program creates some glaring mistakes. For example if you live in 83714 which includes Garden City and a big chunk of west Boise, it says you probably live in in an older industrial city near the Great Lakes. Since that part is not accurate, how much credit should be given when it says you like watching ESPN, AMC and Animal Planet on TV but your radio is tuned to classic rock when you drive to your favorite restaurants, Applebee’s or Outback Steakhouse?
Idaho's Wood River Valley
If you live in Ketchum’s 83340 you’re likely to be very similar to someone in north Boise. But if you’re in Hailey’s 83333 you are probably young and married. Your parents or grandparents might live in your house with you and your kids. And you might have been born outside the U.S. You work hard, own your home but money is tight. For fun, you rent movies, watch TV or play video games.
See what your zip code says about you here, and tell us, is it correct?
Find reporter Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam
Copyright 2014 Boise State Public Radio