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CDRC School Event: Profiling Neighbourhoods and Understanding Consumer Habits

We welcomed students from Hemsworth Arts and Community Academy to the Centre for a workshop on Consumer Data last week.  The session, which was voluntary, was attended by students from various disciplines including Geography, Psychology, Maths and Law.

The workshop started with a short lecture from CDRC’s Andy Newing on Big Data and the work of the Consumer Data Research Centre, followed by an exercise where students learnt about Geodemographic classifications and used CDRC maps to explore their local area.

Session 1

The students were split in to small groups and each allocated a Supergroup from the 2011 Census Output Area Classification (OAC) for the UK (Cosmopolitan, Ethnicity Central etc), using CDRC maps they identified where in West Yorkshire those groups resided.


Once they had identified the areas, the group used google street view to explore the area and make observations about the type of people that may live there.  They discussed their observations in groups:

  • If there were lots of security alarms or bars on windows, did this indicate a high crime rate in the area?
  • Did the number of cars indicate that most people drive to work?
  • What kind of jobs they thought the residents may have

The groups then returned to CDRC maps and compared their observations with data collected in the 2011 Census, using the following maps:

The students then used the information they had found to decide which consumer brands are most likely to be popular among these households and which retailers these consumers are most likely to shop at. The interactive session ended with a short discussion about how commercial organisations (such as retailers) or local government may use these forms of small area classification to support decision making.

Session 2

In the second session the groups participated in three short activities:


Activity 1 – Tour of CDRC

The students were taken on a tour of the CDRC and Leeds Institute for Data Analytics, as well as meeting researchers they particularly enjoyed exploring data visualisations on the Omniglobe.


Activity 2 – Temporal sales variations

Students worked with Research Postgraduate Tom Waddington to explore temporal sales patterns at the level of an individual retail store, considering the impact of area characteristics on these store trading characteristics. Students were able to explore simulated store-level data that were similar in ‘look’ and ‘feel’ to the type of consumer data that Tom uses for his research.


Activity 3 – Sales variations by geodemographic characteristics

Research Postgraduate and GIS Teaching Assistant Nick Hood worked with small groups of students to explore expenditure rates by geodemographic classification. Nick presented a range of topical data which highlighted variations in expenditure by OAC ‘Supergroup’ and product type and students contributed some informative suggestions to explain observed expenditure variations.