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Your Take: Ever Research Your Zip Code?

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MapYesterday, Miranda wrote a post that talked about how marketers are using zip codes to reach new customers. It made me think about the research we’ve done when looking at real estate investments (we dabble a little here and there). One interesting tool I wanted to share with you is ZipSkinny. You give it a zip code and it gives you a ton of demographic data including race, age, gender, but it also includes social and economic indicators. It’s all taken from the 2000 Census, so it’s a little dated but still works quite well I think.

This is probably a light version of what marketers use but probably not that different. 49.3% are in the same home for 5+ years. 28.9% never married, 55% are married, and 9.3% are divorced. You have household income breakdown, occupation (in some broad categories), and even unemployment and poverty. It’s amazing what is available on census alone.

I had two questions – have you ever researched data like this and does it bother you that marketers are using it?

(Credit: Eric Fischer)

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7 Responses to “Your Take: Ever Research Your Zip Code?”

  1. I’ve never personally researched this, but we see it all the time with our business. We work in advertising and firms we deal with do this stuff all the time. It does not really bother me as I know it’s going on and if they’re not doing it this way they will be some other way.

  2. Christian L. says:

    Jim,
    This basically data mining, no? I’m OK with it, especially on the Internet. I’m glad ads are “catered” to me. At the same time, you still have to succumb to the marketers’ power. When you see an ad, you can either let it appeal to you or turn you off.

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

  3. bloodbath says:

    Yes, I have researched areas by zip to obtain the stats you mentioned when buying or renting out my homes or to keep up to date on what’s happening in my neighborhood. I’m mostly interested in school statistics and public safety (I get weekly reports on the residences of registered offenders and the number and types of crimes within a 3 mile area). I object to marketeer using the data to the disadvantage of a neigborhood – the data should be used to improve communities not just to sell products.

  4. Realtor.com and Zillow have similar data. City-data.com has some of the best. Marketers are usually quite a bit more sophisticated, and have been for over 20 years.

  5. freeby50 says:

    I don’t see any harm in this at all. Its generic and anonymous demographic information. In fact I think its good for marketers to use it if it helps them better target their advertisements.

  6. Jim, This is fascinating info. We just moved to our area 2 years ago and I wondered about just this information. It’s really easy to access with all the data on one page.

  7. Shirley says:

    I first used ZipSkinny several years ago and find it quite interesting. It seems to be quite accurate for the demographics of our zip code.


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