Which American City Provides The Best Consumer Test Market?; ''Mirror on America'' Provides Ranking of Top 150 Cities

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.--()--May 24, 2004--"If it plays in Peoria, it will play anywhere" is a traditional American marketing adage, but today's advertisers and direct marketers may want to look 800 miles farther east, to Albany, N.Y.

Acxiom(R) Corporation, a database services company, has released its first "Mirror on America," which ranks America's top 150 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) based on their overall characteristics as a consumer test market, and Albany emerged at the top of the list.

"Demographic shifts have been dramatic in America, particularly in the last 10 to 20 years, and that demands just as dramatic changes in the way marketers understand and approach their audiences," said Acxiom's Tiffany Weatherly, who supervised the research and creation of the Mirror on America ranking.

To create the ranking, Acxiom's Personicx(R) household segmentation product was used to compare and contrast America's marketplaces based on criteria such as age, marital status, home ownership and estimated income. As a result, Albany ranked as the one city that best represents the U.S. population as a whole.

"Albany has almost the same proportion of consumers as is found in the nation as a whole - from people just leaving home or school, buying a home, raising kids, approaching retirement, launching the kids out of the house, to being fully retired," Weatherly said.

Acxiom's Personicx has the ability to help recognize the differences in purchase behavior based on life stage, or where people are in their life development. The Personicx system consists of 70 "clusters," or groups of households that have reached similar life events, such as having a baby or approaching retirement. Being able to recognize such milestones provides marketers with a vivid portrait of key marketplaces and the ability to better anticipate and respond to the changes taking place within a given group of customers.

Using Personicx and Acxiom's InfoBase(R) database of consumer data, Acxiom is able to see what proportion of the overall U.S. population fits into each of these segments and then compare those proportions to the populations of the top 150 MSAs.

The top 10 test market cities, which represent American consumers as
a whole, are:

1.  Albany , N.Y.                         6.  Charlotte, N.C.
2.  Rochester, N.Y.                       7.  Nashville, Tenn.
3.  Greensboro, N.C.                      8.  Eugene, Ore.
4.  Birmingham, Ala.                      9.  Wichita, Kan.
5.  Syracuse, N.Y.                       10.  Richmond, Va.

The least favorable test markets, or cities that least represent
American consumers, are:

141.  El Paso, Texas                    146.  Ocala, Fla.
142.  Columbia, Mo.                     147.  McAllen, Texas
143.  Tallahassee, Fla.                 148.  Honolulu
144.  Brownsville, Texas                149.  San Francisco
145.  Provo, Utah                       150.  New York

Peoria, the legendary "test" city, ranked 37 in the Personicx survey. The complete list of Acxiom's "Mirror On America" can be seen at www.acxiom.com/testmarkets.


Acxiom analyzed the Personicx life stage cluster distributions of the 150 MSAs (according to the U.S. Census Bureau) and compared them to the overall U.S. distributions. Acxiom then created a snapshot of the Personicx portraits for each of the cities and compared it against the U.S. to determine which cities most closely resemble or correlate to the consumer life stage image of the U.S. households.

Acxiom Corporation

Acxiom Corporation (Nasdaq:ACXM) integrates data, services and technology to create and deliver customer and information management solutions for many of the largest, most respected companies in the world. The core components of Acxiom's innovative solutions are Customer Data Integration (CDI) technology, data, database services, IT outsourcing, consulting and analytics, and privacy leadership. Founded in 1969, Acxiom is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas, with locations throughout the United States and Europe, and in Australia and Japan. For more information, visit www.acxiom.com.

Acxiom, Personicx and InfoBase are registered trademarks of Acxiom Corporation.


Acxiom Corporation, Little Rock
Jonathan Portis, 501-342-6284


Acxiom Corporation, Little Rock
Jonathan Portis, 501-342-6284