Breaking Down the Balkanized Markets of America

Although a common belief is that mass media has led to a homogenization of culture and markets, New York-based research company Simmons believes the opposite is true: The breakup of the mass market has turned American society into balkanized population segments that defy easy categorization. While Simmons’ flagship survey, the Simmons National Consumer Study (NCS), draws on a database of over 27,000 respondents nationwide to unlock the secrets of American marketplace behavior, the company now breaks that study down into SimmonsLOCAL. Drawing on the NCS database, SimmonsLOCAL provides hometown versions of consumer media and purchasing behavior in each of the nation’s 210 DMAs (Designated Market Areas). Simmons says that all companies, from small-scale shops to global corporations, can now pinpoint the customers for their products and services.

In the days before Christmas, Simmons examined the shopping habits of the American consumer to reveal the nation’s markets that are tech savvy and credit card conscious. Here are some highlights of the SimmonsLOCAL 2004 study:

With extra spending during the holiday season, consumers tend to rely more heavily on their credit cards for purchases. Simmons analysis found that 24% of American adults pay the full amount due on their credit cards each month. Credit card conscious Americans fall within the larger markets including Boston (131) and Washington, DC (127). Nationally, 4.5% of adults pay the minimum each month. Texas is home to the top five markets that pay only the minimum amount due each month on their credit card.

DMA // Pay Minimum on Credit Card Index*
Odessa // 162
Corpus Christi 150
Harlingen // 144
Lubbock // 144
San Angelo // 139

Yuma and El Paso residents also index above average for owning Personal Video Recorders (PVR). Overall, 8.4 percent of the American population own or plan to buy a PVR.

DMA // PVR Index*
Yuma // 196
El Paso // 141
Los Angeles // 140
Miami // 138
Monterey // 136

California is home to the top five indexing markets for flat screen TV’s within the nation’s 210 DMA’s.

DMA // Flat Screen TV Index*
Monterey // 142
Santa Barbara // 130
San Francisco // 124
San Diego // 123
Fresno // 122

The study revealed that 4.5% of American adults own or plan to buy a satellite radio and the top markets that index the highest in this category include some of the nation’s Hispanic markets in the Southwest.

DMA // Satellite Radio Index*
Yuma // 196
Laredo // 178
Fresno // 174
El Paso // 172
Harlingen // 158

* Index indicates the likelihood of consumers, compared to a 100 average within the total population.

Simmons reports a recent innovation of the National Consumer Study is that it is the first syndicated research study designed to measure and analyze all American adults — Hispanics/Latinos and non-Hispanics, English-speaking and Spanish-speaking — in a single cross-cultural database. Simmons also collects comprehensive information on teenagers and children to assist marketers in targeting their products and services to these segments of the population.

Simmons is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Experian Marketing Solutions, with offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Memphis and Deerfield Beach, FL. For more information on Simmons studies, call (212) 598-5400 or visit

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