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Developed by CACI Limited, the ACORN consumer classification tool categorises the population of the United Kingdom into various demographic types. ACORN, which provides an in-depth understanding of the different categories of both people and communities, was built by identifying and examining significant social factors as well as consumer and population-wide behaviour.

There are two principles which underlie this kind of geodemographic segmentation. Firstly, it is more like that those living in same neighbourhood will share characteristics, as opposed to people chosen at random.

Secondly, neighbourhoods can be classified in terms of the characteristics of its inhabitants. This means that though neighbourhoods may be widely separated geographically, they can still be categorised together in that they share residents of similar behaviours and preferences.

ACORN gathers data from a number of sources such as the census, commercial data, open data and numerous others. Pooling data from such a wide range of resources means that ACORN has built a comprehensive picture of sectors.

An example of a sector which ACORN has been applied to is housing, for which ACORN has records of nearly every household in the UK including house type and the family structure of inhabitants.

ACORN collates households, postcodes and neighbourhoods into broad categories, which can then be further refined into smaller, more specific, subgroups.

An example of a broad category includes “Affluent Achievers” who are characterised by their lavish lifestyles. Within this category, a more specific subgroup emerges named “Exclusive enclaves” which represents the wealthiest people in the country living in large houses or plush apartments.

Conversely, at the other end of the spectrum, is the “Urban Adversity” category which contains those living in difficult circumstances on struggling estates. Within this category exists the “Young Hardship” subgroup which refers to young people living in small, low cost terraced housing.

The uses of ACORN are proliferate and include identifying profitable prospects, evaluating local markets, and understanding the specific needs of neighbourhoods.

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