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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Sport
footballDoes Hodgson's England team have an identity yet?
News
news
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss