When Jeff Boyd of Northern Trust exclaimed over the enormous number of millionaires living in Lakewood Ranch's zip code, he revealed his information came from Claritas, a market research firm headquartered in San Diego.
Of course, the next step was to take a look at Claritas online (www.claritasexpress.com). Part of the web site is daunting, filled with the endless data from the census, millions of purchasing records and customer surveys-all the stuff companies use to figure out how they can get us to buy more. But it also contains a link called "You Are Where You Live" that shows just how easy our preferences are to categorize.
By breaking us down into zip codes, Claritas has grouped our socioeconomic behavior into 62 "clusters." These clusters, with great evocative names such as "Blue Blood Elite," supposedly pinpoint what kind of beverage people in that zip code prefer, what TV programs they watch, the books they buy and whether they golf or bowl.
The Lakewood Ranch zip code (34202), for example, contains a cluster called Greenbelt Families (young, middle-class town families that like to snorkel, write to their elected officials, own powerboats, watch "General Hospital" and read Organic Gardening. It also contains Starter Families (young middle class families who belong to a book club, love boxing, use caller ID watch "Nightline" and read Bride's magazine.)
If you want to see if you fit into any category, click on the link "You Are Where You Live" at the Claritas website and type in your zip code.