(Decatur Daily (AL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 29--Who are Decatur's residents and what do they want?
The answer to the first part of the question may help answer the second part. At least that's what city business leaders hope by using psychographic research to delve into aggregated consumer data to get a clearer picture of who's living, working and shopping in Decatur.
In October, the Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority began using SCOUT, an online retail analysis service from Fort Worth, Texas-based market research company Buxton, to analyze downtown business activity. The data helped persuade Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers corporate officials to locate a restaurant at Second Avenue and Moulton Street, according to Rick Paler, Redevelopment Authority executive director.
SCOUT analyzes who and when folks come into town. The information collected comes from a variety of sources -- sales transactions, demographics in U.S. Census data, credit reports and customer surveys -- said Melissa Morgan, the Tennessee Valley Authority's economic development program manager.
Every time you scan a product's barcode or swipe a credit card, information is digitally transmitted to various databases, she said.
"We don't realize it, but we're all being followed," Paler said. "Everything we do is in a database somewhere that market researchers can analyze."
The city of Decatur will pay a $3,000 annual subscription for the data, and information SCOUT collects will be shared with city leaders, the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce and the Morgan County Economic Development Association to better market consumers to retailers.
"These days you have to have the numbers to back up what you're telling these retailers," said Crystal Brown, the Chamber's business development director. "You can have the most beautiful piece of land smack dab in the middle of the busiest retail location, but if you can't prove to them they can make a profit, it's not going to happen."
'Archie and Edith'
Most recent SCOUT research shows that the largest segment of River City residents -- 16 percent -- is white, middle-aged and high-school educated. They're repelled by the Internet and latest fitness fads, but loyal to traditional name-brand clothing and dedicated to church and civic organizations.
They listen to country and classic rock while driving their American-made pickups and mid-sized sedans. At home, they watch the nightly network news and read Better Homes and Gardens and Southern Living.
They are Archie and Edith: the iconic working, middle-class couple of the 1970s who is immersed in a quickly changing modern world of iPads, gossip blogs and Twitter feeds.
'Salvatore and Joanne'
But that's just one piece of Decatur's people puzzle. The next-largest residential group, with 8.7 percent, are upscale, college-educated Baby Boomer families and couples. "Salvatore and Joanne" put in long hours as professionals and managers in retail, health care and education and live in city neighborhoods.
They get their exercise by gardening, golfing and undertaking home remodeling projects. You'd be more likely to catch them at an antique mall than at a rock concert. At home, they read Reader's Digest and Good Housekeeping and watch the History Channel and Fox News.
'Tyler and Taylor'
Officials want to learn about the people working in Decatur, too. The largest group of city employees (11.6 percent) are dual-income couples working in skilled blue-collar jobs in manufacturing and construction, with sprawling families.
"Tyler and Taylor" families live in newly built houses, drive pickups and sports utility vehicles, shop at Walmart and enjoy swimming, hunting, fishing and camping.
'Danny and Tammy'
Another big group in Decatur's employment pool (11 percent) is considered "Hinterland Families" because of their rustic lifestyles. "Danny and Tammy" families are overwhelmingly white, less educated -- 20 percent never finished high school -- and working class. They work in blue-collar jobs in manufacturing, construction and agriculture and live in low-cost residences, a third of which are mobile homes. They are religious and conservative, with a passion for cars and motor sports. Walmart is considered a major excursion "into town."
The use of SCOUT isn't unusual. Retailers track consumers' purchasing habits and tailor offers and deals on products to individual preferences, said Andrea Scott, an associate professor of marketing at Pepperdine's Graziadio School of Business and Management. Discount and rewards programs gather a great deal of consumer information, she said.
"Target was one of the pioneering retailers to use this data," Scott said. "They were actually able to determine when a female shopper was pregnant and when she had a baby. With that information, they marketed baby items to them."
Psychographics tells retailers something more about consumers than race, age, class, gender and nationality, Scott said.
"It clusters people together that have similar lifestyles, interests and hobbies," Scott said. "A 25-year-old woman, 35-year-old woman, 45-year-old woman and 55-year-old woman may all be very different people, but share a unique interest so that a retailer can sell them all the same thing."
The information gleaned from reports cuts through preconceived notions about who Decatur's citizens are and what they want to buy, said Wally Terry, economic and community development director for the city.
"It takes away what we think of our city and our personal bias and shows us what's really happening out there," he said.
Besides luring new business, the data can help existing businesses re-evaluate their merchandise selections and plan line expansions, Chamber President John Seymour said.
City Council President Gary Hammon called the data "illuminating."
"Who would have thought Decatur needed more sports and outdoors stores?" Hammon said. "I figured between Wiley's (Outdoors on Sixth Avenue) and Academy (Sports and Outdoors on Beltline Road), we'd be covered."
Morgan said cities such as Tulsa have used the data to recruit retailers and medical professionals as well as transportation planning.
"It's allowing us to be much more precise about the types of companies and businesses we try to go after," said Tammy Fate, the city of Tulsa's retail marketing coordinator.
She gave the example of the hip Swedish furniture store IKEA. Tulsa residents have clamored for one, but the city's population data doesn't match the retailer's customer profile.
"Whether we like it or not, the numbers tell the real story," Fate said. "We might not like what they say, but it allows us to be proactive and paint the picture we truly want people to see."
Marketing to Archie and Edith
Decatur is using psychographics analysis to lure retailers and learn about its residents.
SCOUT, an online retail analysis service from Fort Worth, Texas-based market research company Buxton, will come at a discount, $3,000 -- an annual subscription runs $15,000 -- to the city of Decatur through the Tennessee Valley Authority's Economic Development Office.
Which is Decatur?
The following is a list of major groups of people who live and work in Decatur.
Steadfast Conservative: "Archie and Edith"
Population makeup: Residential, 16 percent; Workplace: 11.1 percent.
Description: They're repelled by the Internet and the latest fitness fads but loyal to traditional name-brand clothing and dedicated to church and civic organizations.
Small-town Success: "Kyle and Hannah"
Population makeup: Residential, 7.3 percent; Workplace, 8.2 percent.
Description: White-collar, college-educated, middle-aged working couples living in newly developed subdivisions.
Urban Commuter Families: "Salvatore and Joanne"
Population makeup: Residential, 8.7 percent; Workplace, 7.9 percent.
Description: Upscale, college-educated Baby Boomer families and couples living in comfortable homes in city neighborhoods.
Prime Middle America: "Shawn and Shannon"
Population makeup: Residential, 6 percent; Workplace, 7.8 percent.
Description: Mix of young, upper-middle-class couples and families working in well-paying white-collar and blue-collar jobs.
Minority Metro Communities: "Terrell and Brianna"
Population makeup: Residential, 4.4 percent; Workplace, 6.1 percent.
Description: Concentrated in inner-ring suburbs, these married couples and single-parent minorities earn above-average incomes with a mix of service industry and white-collar jobs in transportation, health care, education and public administration.
Hinterland Families: "Danny and Tammy"
Population makeup: Residential, .1 percent; Workplace, 11 percent.
Description: Blue-collar, middle-aged families and couples settled in isolated towns throughout the South who are overwhelmingly white, less educated and working class.
Family Convenience: "Tyler and Taylor"
Population makeup: Residential, 2.5 percent; Workplace, 11.6 percent.
Description: Sprawling families with dual-income couples working in skilled blue-collar jobs in manufacturing and construction.
Struggling City Centers: "Clarence and Gloria"
Population makeup: Residential, 8.1 percent; Workplace, 3.3 percent.
Description: Young, single and single-parented minority renters living in low-income city neighborhoods, facing hard economic challenges.
African-American Neighborhoods: "Jermaine and Keisha"
Population makeup: Residential, 7.7 percent; Workplace, 3.9 percent.
Description: Young, working-class minority city dwellers and single-parent families with low educational levels living in older homes and low-rise apartments.
Population makeup: Residential, 39.2 percent; Workplace, 29.1 percent,
Description: Includes about 40 groups with varying small percentages.
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