Thursday, March 10, 2016

Where you live dictates what you buy, but it's all completely random anyway

Every Thursday morning, as I drive to my squash game, Terry O'Reilly introduces the always-interesting Under the Influence program on CBC Radio, in which he deconstructs the all-pervading advertising industry. The repeated refrain on today's show was "Where you live dictates what you buy", and among other things it presented a bunch of fascinating factoids about the Canadian provinces and US states and cities that spend most on various different consumer goods and services.
For example, did you know:
  • Yukon and Northwest Territories buy far and away the most beer per capita in Canada, and Ontario buys the least. But, although over 50% of the alcohol bought in Canada is beer, its market share has been gradually giving way to wine and spirits since 2004. Quebec is by far Canada's biggest wine consumer, followed by British Columbia, with Saskatchewan buying the least wine. The Northwest Territories and Yukon consume the most liquor, closely followed by Newfoundland and Labrador, while Quebec consumes the least. Overall, though, Quebec drinks the most alcohol, and Price Edward Island the least, and Canadians as a nation drink about 50% more alcohol per year than the average world citizen. In the USA, New Hampshire has the highest per capita beer consumption, followed by North Dakota and Montana. New Hampshire also consumes the most spirits, followed by Washington D.C. and Delaware. Washington D.C. consumes the most wine, followed (perhaps unexpectedly) by Idaho, and then - you guessed it - New Hampshire (the "Live Free Or Die" state).
  • British Columbia is the number one Canadian province for the purchase of luxury cars. In Toronto, status is more likely to be expressed though expensive houses, and Toronto is now the world's fastest growing market for luxury home sales of over $3 million dollars, ahead of wealthier cities like New York, London and Paris. In New York, on the other hand, where car ownership is not such a big deal and real estate is at a huge premium, the big status symbol is luxury watches (it buys 171% more luxury watches than the national average, and no other state comes close). In Boston, the status symbol is tuition to private schools; in Dallas, it is home décor; in San Francisco it is club memberships; etc.
  • Women in Atlantic Canada spend more on cosmetics than other areas of the country, followed by Alberta and Ontario. In the States, the biggest spenders on cosmetics are not places by New York and Los Angeles, but Phoenix, Houston and Minneapolis. Boston and Baltimore spend the least per capita.
  • The Canadian province that spends the most on lotteries is Quebec, followed by Ontario. In the US, little Rhode Island is the top spender on lotteries per capita, and South Dakota ranks number two. North Dakota, on the other hand, although just next door, spends the least in America.
  • The two Canadian cities that spend the most on their dogs, Regina and Saskatoon, are both in Saskatchewan. Kitchener, Ontario spends the most on cats. But Canadians in general spend much more on dogs than the they do on cats, from memory foam bedding to doggie hiking boots, jackets and sweaters to jewelled collars to Halloween costumes to canine hydrotherapy. In America, the biggest dog spenders are found in Phoenix, and then Cleveland.
  • Vancouver spends more on books than any other city in Canada, followed by Calgary and Saskatoon, although Saskatoon buys more books by Canadian authors. Calgary buys the most e-books, followed by Regina and ... Saskatoon. In the USA, Seattle (just down the road from Vancouver, is the biggest book-buying city, followed by San Francisco and Philadelphia. Miami buys the least books.
  • The recent Ashley Madison hack provided the information that Toronto (pop. around 3 million) had the most marriage cheaters in Canada. Perhaps no surprise there, although it also ranked number four on the list internationally. Second on the list in Canada, though, was Lloydminster, Alberta (pop. 24,000). In the USA, the most cheating cities were New York, Houston, Los Angeles and Chicago. The least cheating cities were Atlanta, Philadelphia and, unexpectedly, Las Vegas.
  • The Canadian city that buys the most sex toys per capita is little Kentville, Nova Scotia, followed by Colwood, B.C. (which is hardly much bigger), and Fort McMurray, Alberta. The top city for Bondage, Discipline, Submission and Masochism products is Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia (not a million miles from Kentville, and even smaller), followed by Fairview, Alberta, and 100 Mile House, B.C. Much bigger cities like Toronto and Montreal do not even feature in the top 100 of these lists.
  • And just a few more random snippets: Atlanta spends 230% above the national average on motorcycles, but 45% below average on men's underwear; Boston spends a staggering 330% more than the national average on alimony payments; Detroit spends the most per capita on both dating services and GPS systems; Cleveland spends the most on wigs; Miami spends significantly less than the norm when it comes to women's underwear.
Sure, these stats probably show that where you live dictates what you buy. But, more than anything else, they show just how random the whole thing is. Big Data can get as big as it likes, but just what are we supposed to make of data like this?

No comments: