Bunhill: So are you a pebble dash subtopian?

So you've got a flower bed, you've done a bit of home improvement and now you keep getting mailshots advertising garden seeds and DIY products. Or some time in the past you bought a Carpenters record and a Fleetwood Mac CD and now you're being targeted for angora cardigans, pipe tobacco, shaving kits and rocking chairs. Are you just being paranoid or have you become predictable?

No, you're not paranoid, you are predictable and the marketing men know you inside out. More alarming still, for those who constantly have to refute charges that people can be stereotyped according to their post code (Islington man, Essex girl), there really are a lot of people round your way who think the same way you do. For instance, I live in the north London "village" of Crouch End - an area where everyone is perceived as priding themselves on their youthful idealism but mature tastes. I like to think I'm different but, in the words of the song that I fear features in many record collections round my way, there is always something there to remind me ... otherwise.

I say all this by way of introducing the information services company Experian and its MOSAIC classification system. MOSAIC is a database whose details are gleaned from electoral registers, financial and retail data (ie our buying habits) and housing data and then crunched by computer to reveal the dominant characteristics of people in any given post code. Areas that have a lot in common with each other are pinpointed by mapping software so that companies using the database have a better idea of where they should target their marketing efforts.

More intriguing still are the classifications used by Experian to describe people with common attributes. For instance, if you live in an area with a rich ethnic mix, you are part of the "bohemian melting pot". You're well-off but not materialistic, you vote Labour and read the Guardian, and your direct mail will be dominated by promotions for records, lifestyle magazines and holidays.

Sounds a lot more exciting than being a member of "pebble dash subtopia" - in which case you're not very flamboyant, you're not keen to know your neighbours, but you do like DIY and going to the supermarket. Your fate: mailshots crammed with offers for home-improvement and garden products.

There are 50 other classifications in MOSAIC - "bijou homemakers", "graffitied ghettos", "suburban mock tudor" and "problem families" to name but a few - so surely such comprehensive coverage could be exploited by the spin doctors; how much easier it would be to deliver voter-friendly messages if they were aware of people's preoccupations in any given neighbourhood. Futuristic? Not at all, reports Richard Webber, a director at Experian. Politicians are already using this kind of information to make the right pitches to the right people.

So watch out in the bohemian melting pot when Peter Mandelson knocks on your door: "Yes, rest assured that we in New Labour are firmly committed to the preservation of joss-sticks." Or, if you live in pebble dash subtopia: "We are actively considering removing VAT from wood-filler, car wax and bathroom sealant."

Look away now ...

A time-honoured ritual was re-enacted at Bunhill Mansions last week when Trevor McDonald informed us that the highlights of the England-Moldova match would be shown after News at Ten ... "So if you don't want to know the score, please look away now." Cue face down in the cushion and the tortuous wait for the message that would return me to the living world: "And finally ..."

Some readers may even recall a time when the fact of impending highlights didn't stop the newscaster announcing the result anyway. This gave viewers precisely two seconds to fall back over the sofa, somersault out of the door, and bury their heads in the hall carpet with their hands over their ears. A painful process, perhaps, but one that did at least imbue the most excruciating 0-0 draws with a sense of anticipation.

So could similar tactics be deployed to broaden the appeal of business? I don't see why not:

"The highlights of today's plenary committee meeting on the future direction of EMU will be shown immediately after this bulletin, so if you don't want to know the possible ramifications for a basket of currencies now, please turn over to the film with lots of sex and violence."

Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday


Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

The benefits of Recruitment at SThree...

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Finance Assistant - Part time - 9 month FTC

£20000 - £23250 Per Annum pro rata: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pro rata ...

Marketing Manager

£40 - 48k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Manager to join...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities