What Your Baltimore Zip Code Says About You

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Mt. Washington residents are likely to have an active relationship with their financial advisors, while Hampdenites probably read Vanity Fair and like to go backpacking. Sound reasonable? Those demographic descriptions come right from market research company Nielsen, which does a lot more than just determine how many people watched a particular TV show. As part of their market-research system, they’ve sorted Americans into 66 demographic categories, from “Bohemian Mix” to “New Money” to “Power Couples.”

The ratings are based on data like consumer spending, household composition, and median age. But they also get way more personal, describing hobbies and lifestyle choices and even music preferences. We looked up a bunch of Baltimore-area zip codes to see if their system makes sense; find yours below, and let us know if it rings true!

21201 (Downtown-Lexington Market)
Bottom-Line Blues
Bottom-Line Blues is the most financially challenged segment. No other has fewer income-producing assets, and few rank lower when it comes to income or home ownership. Concentrated in inner-city neighborhoods, the segment is the address for mostly younger, multi-ethnic singles and single-parent families living in low-cost apartments. Many residents have low educations and insecure jobs, surviving on cash instead of bank or insurance products. Surveys show that members of Bottom-Line Blues have modest lifestyles, spending their leisure time going online, eating at fast-food restaurants, and listening to music.

21202 (Greenmount-Inner Harbor)
Bottom-Line Blues (see above for description)

21209 (Mt. Washington)
Capital Accumulators
Capital Accumulators is a collection of 45- to 64-year-old suburbanites dedicated to growing their IRAs and 401(k) retirement accounts. They’re twice as likely as average Americans to own securities, mutual funds, and real estate investments. Many households are home to professionals who have parlayed upper-middle-class incomes into substantial income-producing assets. They tend to lead very active lifestyles, traveling abroad, skiing at exclusive resorts, and paying for investment advice from stockbrokers and financial planners. With their brains and bucks, Capital Accumulators consume a variety of media; they rate high for reading the Wall Street Journal and Cigar Aficionado, and for watching pay-per-view movies.

21210 (Roland Park-Cross Keys)
Bargain Lovers
Call them thrifty or call them economical; just don’t call them cheap. The members of Bargain Lovers have upper-middle-class incomes and moderate levels of income-producing assets, but they still love a deal, whether it’s buying stocks through discount brokers or cashing in credit card rewards for free airline tickets. A mix of 45- to 64-year-old singles and couples, these urban and suburban households are heavy users of mortgage products, high-end credit cards, and auto leases. They also fill their Roth IRAs and 401(k)s with mutual funds, stocks, and money market funds. Internet fans, they go online to bank, comparison shop, get travel information, and trade stocks. Their media tastes are also progressive: they enjoy new age music and soft rock as well as computer and sports magazines.

21211 (Remington-Hampden)
ATM Nation
As hip as they are, the members of ATM Nation are, nevertheless, financially unsophisticated. Many of these city apartment dwellers boast midscale incomes and have yet to accumulate appreciable assets. They rarely set foot inside banks, preferring to use ATMs and online bill-paying services with their interest-bearing checking accounts. They also prefer to go online to buy a handful of insurance products–auto, term life, and renter’s insurance. Despite paying off student and personal loans, ATM Nation residents live rich lives offline, showing high indices for traveling nationally, going skiing, whitewater rafting, and backpacking. When it comes to media, this segment scores high for listening to NPR, watching the Independent Film Channel, and reading: favorites include Elle, Vanity Fair, and The New York Times.

21212 (Govans-Homeland)
Greenback Acres
In Greenback Acres, cash is king. With lower-middle-class incomes and low levels of income-producing assets, members of this segment have relatively few investments, retirement savings, or even credit card debt. But these 45- to 64-year-old Americans do own modest homes–their homeowner’s insurance is for under $100,000–which they’ve used to land home improvement loans. And they show solid indices for buying auto, residential, credit card, and mortgage insurance. Greenback Acres has a high concentration of rural households, and these households like to buy insurance through farm bureaus, banks, and credit unions. This segment ranks high for owning pets and fishing gear, but in Greenback Acres, they pay for everything with cash.

21213 (Belair-Edison)
Bottom-Line Blues (see above for description)

21214 (Hamilton-Lauraville)
Corporate Climbers
The members of Corporate Climbers are singularly focused on their careers. Mostly 35 to 54 years old and childless, these educated White and Asian singles and couples have professional jobs and upper-middle-class incomes but below-average assets, which they invest mostly in mutual funds and retirement accounts. To maintain their busy lifestyle, they use credit liberally, taking out auto loans, using home equity lines of credit, and carrying high-end credit cards with revolving balances. They fill their leisure time with sports and entertainment activities including mountain biking and skiing, playing tennis and going sailing, and frequenting bars and attending nightclubs. Determined to improve their financial lot, they index high for reading self-help business books, watching Bloomberg Television, and subscribing to The Wall Street Journal.

21217 (Druid Hill Park-Bolton Hill)
Bottom-Line Blues (see above for description)

21218 (Waverly)
Bottom-Line Blues (see above for description)

21224 (Highlandtown-O’Donnell Heights)
Economizers
With nearly all its households earning under $30,000 a year, Economizers is one of the nation’s poorest financial groups. These racially mixed singles and single-parent families have few investments or other assets. Typically living in apartments in big-city neighborhoods, they show low indices for buying most insurance products other than low-value renter’s, auto, and whole life insurance. And Economizers households have little discretionary cash for traveling, dining out, or enjoying big-ticket sports. With a lifestyle influenced by the presence of young children, this segment ranks near the top for a variety of ethnic- and family-targeted media: watching TV wrestling and BET, reading baby and parenting magazines, and listening to gospel radio.

21225 (Brooklyn- Cherry Hill)
Bottom-Line Blues (see above for description)

21230 (Westport-Locust Point)
Loan Rangers
Loan Rangers is a group of 25- to 44-year-old singles, couples, and families leading mobile lifestyles. These households form one of the top-ranked markets for student loans and new car insurance, and they show strong indices for personal loans, installment credit, and interest checking. With their midscale incomes and low levels of income-producing assets, members of Loan Rangers are blas√© about investing for retirement. However, they do buy a variety of insurance products, including medical and disability coverage, in part because they’ve recently changed jobs or apartments. Away from work, they enjoy drinking, dancing, going online, and checking out rap radio or music magazines.

21231 (Fells Point)
ATM Nation (see above for description)

21234 (Harford-Woodring-Parkville)
ATM Nation (see above for description)

21236 (Overlea-Nottingham)
Business Class
Business Class is a segment known for its lavish spending style and country club lifestyle. But many of the fifty-something executive couples that make up this segment have begun to divert their high incomes into building up their long-neglected nest eggs. Segment households rank highly for having Keogh plans, cash management accounts, and unit investment trusts. But they have only one-third the level of income-producing assets of The Wealth Market, and many are trying to make up for lost time by aggressively investing in stocks, mutual funds, and investment-style insurance. Located mostly in pricey suburban areas, the members of Business Class score high for business and pleasure travel and high-end shopping, as well as listening to classical radio and reading business publications.

21239 (Northwood-Loch Raven)
City Strivers
Filled with younger apartment dwellers, City Strivers consists mostly of under-35-year-olds with lower-middle-class to midscale incomes and few income-producing assets. Diverse in both ethnicity and family type, most member of this segment attended college and now work at a mix of white-collar and service jobs. But their entry-level salaries don’t go far, and many are paying off student, auto, and personal loans. With a majority having children, they’re also preoccupied with the here-and-now expenses of early childrearing–few tend to have long-term investments, retirement savings, or life insurance. This segment scores high for going to movies, roller skating, playing volleyball, dancing, and buying family-friendly toys. City Strivers members can be found reading gaming and baby magazines, listening to rock and Hispanic radio, and watching reality TV shows.

If you don’t see your zip code here, you can look it up yourself with Neilsen’s Prizm Market Segmentation program.



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7 COMMENTS

  1. Most of these seem waaaaay too generalized to be of any use. While the survey thinks 21211 is full of hipsters, in reality, most people there are the original Hampdenites.

  2. Yeah, not feeling it. As a homeowner I disagree with being classified as ATM Nation and no appreciable assets. Like anything, these are way too vague to be of any significance.

  3. This is just awful. Hey Neilsen – Guilford is in 21218. It’s the richest neighborhood in the city. Zip codes are way too big and heterogeneous to complile lists like this based on them.

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