Hey Baby, What's Your Cluster?

Read details about Axoicom's 70 clusters on their website using the PersonicsX Interactive Wheel.

I just got my data mined. It was a little bit enlightening and a little bit disturbing (OK, a lot disturbing... evidently, I am totally frivolous). But one of the things I discovered is that we've all been clustered. Data miners have been slotting us into clusters for decades.

I like to think that I'm unique and indefinable, but as far as laundry detergent, car insurance, frozen dinners and just about every other company is concerned, I am Cluster 26-- Savvy Singles. And you are Cluster 22--Fun & Games, Cluster 9, Platnum Oldies, Cluster 41 Trucks & Trailers or one of the 70 socioeconomic categories laid out by data company Acxiom.

I spoke with Acxiom's cluster guru Josh Herman (Also known as Product Leader for Acxiom Corporation's Global Segmentation & Product Innovations team). Herman told me the clusters debuted in the early 80s and that they're getting more and more precise as more data becomes available. Everyone from marketers to politicians use the clusters to target consumers and constituents.

LISTEN: Get to know Stacey, the 'Savvy Single'

Know your cluster

Acxiom clusters you based on your age, where you live, your financial situation, your education, your marital status, whether you have kids, where you shop and all kinds of other information.

Cluster 26--Savvy Singles

At a mean age of 37, this group of upper-middle income singles is still establishing their homes and careers. Savvy Singles households work in a wide range of white-collar, professional sales and service jobs. They are a mix of homeowners and renters. In either instance, this cluster spends a lot on home improvement, appliances and furniture. They are involved in public activities, ranging from human rights and environmental issues to art associations and organizations. They enjoy outdoor activities, such as mountain climbing and cross-country skiing.

Acxiom says I'm a "workaholic", which is nice, because my job review is this week. It says I rely on radio to keep me informed...I mean, who doesn't? It also says I exercise every week (honestly, it's almost illegal to not work out in Los Angeles. People will show up at your door with pitchforks and protein shakes). Savvy Singles spend most of their money on their homes. This is very true. I am a major nester and, though I don't own my apartment, have spent many hours painting, removing my closet doors and putting up shelves (I am now really hoping my landlady is not a blog reader...)

I soon started clustering everyone I know. For instance, I'm convinced that many of my single friends and I have spent many hours griping about the Cluster 35s:

Cluster 35--Solo & Stable

Solo & Stable households are between the ages of 36 and 45 and are single with no children. This group... works in a diverse range of white-collar occupations. ...They enjoy more sedate outdoor activities, including snorkeling and fly-fishing...They are avid followers of the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Derby.

The sports-obsessed commitment-phobes! The summary says they're a tiny bit careless with cash (...maybe the kinds of guys who think the March Madness office pool counts as an investment). They also spend a lot of time worrying about themselves (ok, that is just TOO easy) and watching sports.

Then there are my friends who have children. They generally have very young kids and are also doing well in their careers. They are the cool, sophisticated, stylish doing-it-all parents, who are raising the next generation of college professors and therapy-enthusiasts. The Cluster 12s!

Cluster 12--Toys & Tots

Toys & Tots are... professional working couples (mean age 35) are consumed by work and family. They're putting their college degrees to work, establishing lucrative careers. At the same time, the joys of home ownership and early parenthood combine to ensure that money made is quickly spent. When not going to the zoo and photographing their children, they are busy clothing their toddlers and child-proofing their homes with regular purchases at Babies "R" Us, Kids "R" Us and GapKids/BabyGap. In addition, any spare time is consumed by do-it-yourself home improvement projects. With time at a premium, they tend to rely on the radio more than other forms of media for entertainment and news.

Who says Joan Didion and Dora the Explorer don't go together? I know these people! I buy Baby Einstein shower gifts for these people! (It is NEVER too early to start learning calculus)

Where you live is a huge factor in determining your cluster. I grew up in Idaho and much of my family is there. Rural households have categories of their own. My grandma, who just turned 94 and still drives (better than most people in LA, I might add) lives in a tiny town near Twin Falls... and, after careful consideration, I think she's a Cluster 15er.

Cluster 15--Country Ways

Despite being ranked only 44th for college.The group is a genuine mix of white-collar professionals and blue-collar tradesmen and living in some of the most rural parts of the country.They are secure in jobs and money, generally feeling confident and content. Social activities reflect a busy life filled with fraternal and religious organizations, hobbies, country clubs and grandchildren.They are avid outdoorsmen--hunting, fishing, driving RVs and boating.

Don't think grandma's been hunting in awhile, but it really does fit her!

As far as the clusters are concerned, you are born the moment you leave home--around age 18. Some of my favorite cluster-descriptions are for people just starting out. They are young, they have no idea what they're doing and the world is their oyster (not that they can afford oysters... they're broke!)

Cluster 57--Collegiate Crowd

Collegiate Crowd is made up of single, highly mobile apartment dwellers. This group is young, self-absorbed and unencumbered... They spend a fair amount of time watching TV and enjoying microwave dinners or peanut butter sandwiches.

...and ramen. So much ramen. You KNOW these kids. They spend their evenings arguing about Existentialism and perfecting their keg stand. They are tragically broke, but they tend to have a pretty decent line of credit with the First bank of Mom and Dad (hence their penchant for buying electronics).

Then I really started to go crazy... I clustered The Brady Bunch: Cluster 27--Soccer and SUVs, Archie Bunker: Cluster 38--Blue Collar Bunch, Carrie Bradshaw Cluster 29--City Mixers, the Trekkies Cluster 46--Home Cooking. This group enjoys sci-fi and tends to be awkward around others. (People can be so judgmental about Klingon costumes!), The Cosby's: Cluster 17--Apple Pie Families, and, because I am from Idaho, Jeremiah Johnson: Cluster 60--Rural Rovers.

Then I wanted to tackle the big guy: Uncle Sam. That was tough, but I settled on Cluster 7--Leveraged Lifestyles (Fun fact: Uncle Sam enjoys watercraft and Elle Décor magazine).

To learn more about the booming industry of data mining, check out the piece that aired on Monday .

Stacey Vanek Smith (AKA The Savvy Single)

Identify your lifestyle cluster with the Marketplace Consumer Profiler based on demographic data provided by the mapping and data mining firm Esri. Try it now

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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