Marketers don’t think about it much, but it truly is an immense and impressive marketing research effort that has no peer. While it is obviously a governmental effort to determine things as varied as legislative representation and budget allocation, the primary research that will be available to marketers will be significant. With this data, Marketers will have the business intelligence to better understand the demographic changes which are transpiring in the United States. Important decisions impacting things like site locations, sales territory design, quotas, and product development will be made in the future based on the Census.
Unlike any other Federal agency, the Census Bureau will quickly ramp its workforce by the hundreds of thousands and will begin sending address canvassers to inventory all living quarters in the country. What was a strip mall ten years ago may now be a high rise condominium. What may have been houses ten years ago is now a a strip mall. This early operation is vital to ensuring a complete and accurate count .
What makes this “mother of all primary research” so interesting this year is that it is getting more automated. The address canvassers will be walking their neighborhoods with a handheld device developed by Harris and HTC to verify and list structures, including the collection of GPS coordinates for each location. Once gathered, the data will be transmitted through the Sprint network and consolidated into a data warehouse.
After the inventorying of all living quarters in the country, the Census will resort to old fashioned clipboards and surveys for the actual counting of citizens and determination of other important demographics such as age, gender, and ethnic background. All census information will be kept strictly confidential and will not be shared with other agencies.
Using the Harris/HTC device, the exact location of every residential structure in the United States will be “spotted” on a GPS database. The device indeed works, but sometimes has latency. While there have been reports of other problems with the device such as the GPS being erratic, the Marketing Consigliere thinks it is a positive step. However, in the long run it will still gather information that Google would probably love to get its hands on. And this is just the first attempt at digitization – it will be a rich foundation for the 2020 Census, which will be here before we know it and it’s good to know that our tax dollars are being used to advance the efficiency of civilian agencies as they gather, store, analyze, and act upon data.