By Melanie Hicken
Truckin' & Stylin'. Shooting Stars. Timeless Elders. Based on where you live, how much money you make, and where you shop, you may be classified into one of these categories by one of the country's largest data brokers.
Using its massive database filled with personal data on shoppers and their buying behaviors, data giant Acxiom places each of the U.S. households it tracks into one of 70 categories, ranging from the wealthiest -- dubbed "Summit Estates" -- to the bottom of the income spectrum -- or "Resilient Renters."
According to Acxiom's marketing materials, the "clusters" allow "marketers to better know -- and anticipate -- their customers' demographics and buying behaviors." And the categories help retailers decide the location for a new store, for example, which television stations to advertise on, or which customers they should market a new product line to.
But critics say that the groupings can result in biases toward different shoppers, often based on socioeconomic factors like income.
"It's really being put into a box," said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum. "And that's the problem."
Wondering where you fall? Here's how Acxiom describes various types of consumer households in its marketing materials:
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