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The Clustered World : How We Live, What We Buy, and What It All Means About Who We Are Hardcover – December 15, 2000

3.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Primary age group: 35-64... Median household income: $80,600... Median home value: $247,000... Predominant ideology: moderate Republican... Preferences: car phones, domestic wine, Land Rovers."

If this sounds like you, then you're a part of what's known as the "Winner's Circle" cluster. If not, then you probably fall into one of 61 other lifestyle clusters with names such as "Urban Gold Coast," "Pools & Patios," "God's Country," "Golden Ponds," and "Shotguns & Pickups." In The Clustered World, demographic detective Michael Weiss draws on the work of market research firm Claritas and its PRIZM cluster system to render a richly detailed view of the many neighborhoods and demographic segments that make up the United States. According to Weiss, the image of America as a melting pot is simply inaccurate--think salad bar, instead. He writes, "For a nation that's always valued community, this breakup of the mass market into balkanized population segments is as momentous as the collapse of Communism.... Today, the country's new motto should be 'E pluribus pluriba': 'Out of many, many.'"

In addition to explaining the cluster concept, Weiss shows how marketers can put clusters to work to understand consumers better and sell everything from college educations to Dodge Caravans. Weiss also looks beyond the U.S. population to lifestyle clusters in Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, South Africa, and Spain. Marketers and social observers will find this pointillist view incredibly useful and perhaps a little disturbing. The overriding truth behind The Clustered World is that, like it or not, "You are like your neighbors." And in case you're wondering what cluster you belong to, Weiss includes the URL for the Claritas Web site (yawyl.claritas.com), where you can enter your ZIP code to find out more about you and your neighbors. --Harry C. Edwards

From Publishers Weekly

It's a brave new world for marketers, thanks to the data-gathering efforts of computers. With their number-crunching ability, it's now possible to identify many characteristics shared by residents of specific neighborhoods, including age, income level, education, buying habits, favorite forms of entertainment and consumption of brand-name products. Weiss is one of the pioneers in developing this form of demographic profile, first introduced in 1988 in his book, The Clustering of America. A decade later, as his new book relates, much more is known and some things have changed. From the established urban areas of the U.S. to the emerging consumer nations of Eastern Europe, clustering analysis provides a practical snapshot of attitudes and behaviors. Among the 62 distinct American clusters described here are unique groups such as "bohemian mix" (they prefer jogging to golfing and like foreign videos), "old Yankee rows" (stamp collecting is out, lottery tickets are in) and "blue blood estates" (country clubs, housekeepers and tennis are popular) . Readers unfamiliar with the modern world of marketing may find this off-putting, but the cutesy labels and standardized profiles have turned out to represent a bonanza--for advertisers, product developers, politicians and TV producers, among others--because they produce results. As Weiss states, "Forget race, national origin, age, household composition, and wealth. The characteristic that defines and separates Americans more than any other is the cluster." A minor complaint is the promotional nature of the contents, which focuses on the work of a single market research company. Maps and illus. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (December 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316929204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316929202
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,855,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Marcy L. Thompson VINE VOICE on October 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I never thought I would find this book as fascinating as it turns out to be. I first saw it on a friend's coffee table, and started paging through it. Then I had to borrow it. The next thing I knew, I was buying a copy for myself. Michael Weiss writes about a demographic analysis technique which explains a strange thing I noticed 20 years ago. I had moved from a a neighborhood full of 20-something recent college graduates in entry-level professional jobs into a tiny little used-to-be-the-butler's-apartment in a very ritzy neighborhood in San Francisco. All of a sudden my junk mail changed. Instead of credit card offers and Book-of-the-Month Club shills, I started getting letters that said things like "We know all about you. When you want to get away for the weekend, you shun Paris and go right to Morocco." Right.
This book explains what had happened to me: I had moved from one cluster's neighborhood into another. My address now suggested things about my income, lifestyle and assets that just weren't true.
The maps and prose in this book combine to provide a very interesting analysis of how wealth, values and lifestyle are dispersed in this country (and around the world). Clustering was first developed as a marketing tool, and it's undoubtedly a powerful one, but the book works as social commentary, as well. This book is one of the best case studies I've ever laid eyes on of how to make statistical analysis meaningful to the average reader.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is great fun. It centers around the idea of the "lifestyle cluster"--that there are people in your community who share your consumption patterns, what you eat, drink, smoke (if you still do!), how you vote, etc. Marketers need to know this stuff in an age of "narrowcasting" so they don't try to sell cruises to folks who can't afford them, conduct NPR pledge drives among people who resist them, hawk magazines to people who won't read them, etc.
Using massive amounts of data the author has come up with 62 of these lifestyle clusters and each of us belongs to one of them, from the richie-rich "Blueblood Estates" (think lifestyles of the rich and famous) all the way down to "Southside City" (so poor even federally subsidized highrises are better off). See where you and your allegedly classless Americans are--and see how many lifestyle options there are for a family living on, say, $40,000 a year. Where you live determines how you live, and vice versa.
There are also chapters devoted to lifestyle clusters in other countries, most notably in Canada. (Note to English Canadians: you don't have to worry about us Yanks imposing our lifestyle clusters on you. You have your own clusters to worry about.)
If you're really interested in this, look up Weiss's 1988 book, THE CLUSTERING OF AMERICA, which is a prequel to this one, and contains 40 lifestyle clusters. (I find 40 clusters easier to get my mind around than 62, frankly.) You can track the USA's progression from a production to an information society, notice which segments are gaining and which are losing strength, where racial harmony has occurred, and so on.
I am sorry that Weiss got rid of the cluster called "Coalburg and Corntown" between the 1988 book and the new one. John Cougar Mellencamp comes from a Coalburg and Corntown (Seymour, Indiana), and I always thought it would make a great title for one of his songs.
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Format: Hardcover
I read Michael Weiss' first book-"The Clustering of America" years ago, so when I read about his latest-I bought it as well. It is a real fun read-not just statistics etc..., but a lot of fun facts about people and their purchasing habits. My town was actually classified in the book as "Executive Suites" which made it even more interesting to read.(Pretty accurate description as well) Michael Weiss also used Berwyn, Ill. as an example of "Big City Blend" and he hit the nail on the head there. ( I have some older relatives who live in Berwyn). I started by flipping back and forth in the book, then just settled down and read it all the way through. I like demographics, and marketing, so that is another reason it held my interest. There were some surprises-ex: Price Club is popular with the "Blue Blood Estates". There is also some mention of foreign countries, and how they use the cluster system in marketing. The descriptions of the clusters are interesting, and take current events into account. It is a good book just to keep around to flip through to try and find communities you are familar with and see if the descriptions hold true, or read it all the way through. Either way-it's entertaining.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With "The Clustered World," Michael J. Weiss has rendered my degree in mass communications obsolete. Weiss does a great job of outlining the dozens and dozens of demographic groups that make up America and other countries today. I found lots of interesting demographic tidbits -- such as the existence of 400,000 gated communities in the U.S. (And here I had thought mine was an anomaly). I wish only to have read the detailed outline of each segment first to make it easier to keep track of them all. Otherwise, Weiss' book brought me back to my days in the college library, contentedly absorbing "American Demographics."
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