Data Points

Data-driven insight in the era of GDPR

  • 1.  Data-driven insight in the era of GDPR

    Posted 05-23-2019 09:01

    The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (commonly known as GDPR) came into effect on the 25th May 2018. It is important to any user or processor of personal data as this new law marks a seismic change in the way that organisations must protect consumers' data.

    The headline of GDPR is that it enforces much tougher non-compliance penalties than the Data Protection Act (DPA). Breaches can mandate a fine of 4% of annual global turnover or €20 million (almost $25 million) – whichever is greater. Previously, fines under the DPA were limited to £500,000.

    Although the spectre of GDPR looms large over the Holy Grail of customer insight - information about the individual and household – there are many other data options open to organisations who want actionable insight on consumers without the risk or constraints of the new regulation.

    A geodemographic segmentation is one of these options. These data products classify and label neighbourhoods based on the socio-economic and behavioural characteristics of their populations, usually derived from aggregated and fully compliant census data.

    Geodemographics assume that people who live in the same neighbourhood are likely to have similar characteristics – in other words, "Birds of a feather flock together". Areas are classified in terms of the characteristics of the population which they contain e.g. "High Flying Professionals", "Tenants and Twenties".

    This classification of neighbourhoods provides a rich understanding which can enable:

    • Segmentation and insight
    • Selection and targeting
    • Campaign planning
    • Customer analysis and modelling
    • Trade area analysis and retail planning

    Although at first glance geodemographic classifications appear simple, they solve a multi-dimensional problem – i.e. how do you provide accurate, powerful, understandable local area insight based on hundreds of Census variables? Our brains cannot work in multiple data dimensions, so reducing these into one descriptive label provides an easily comprehensible and intuitive tool. The number crunching statistical routines used to build these systems cluster neighbourhoods of similar types together, revealing a national social taxonomy.


    Pitney Bowes offers a set of such geodemographic systems - PSYTE HD Canada, and CAMEO for an additional 35 countries – plus an array of additional products that describe neighbourhoods in slightly different ways (Consumer Vitality, Settlement Spaces, Consumer Styles), which allow our customers to get up and running with compliant and actionable insight very quickly indeed.

    Andy Peloe
    Senior Product Manager - World Demographics
    Pitney Bowes