What is Acorn?

What is Acorn?

Acorn is a geodemographic segmentation that provides insight into the demographics, lifestyles and behaviours of your customers in an easily digestible way, allowing you to focus on enhancing the value of your customers and locations.

So, how exactly does Acorn work and what difference can it make for your organisation?

How does Acorn work?

Acorn combines the comprehensive detail provided in the Census with a wealth of data in CACI’s Address Spine and other data sources to supply consistently up-to-date, accurate insight into the UK population by assigning each of the 1.6 million UK postcodes with three segmentation labels at different levels.

Breakdown of Acorn’s structure

Acorn is available in a hierarchal structure, segmenting every UK postcode into Category, Group and Type, with each level having its own purpose:

  • Category is the broadest level, with only seven segments. It provides a snapshot of the overall distribution of affluence.
  • Group is a finer level, consisting of 22 different segments. It is the most widely used and is the lens through which organisations engage with customers.
  • Type is the lowest level, comprising 65 segments. It’s the most granular view and is typically used for tactical campaign selections, reporting and exploring acute details when minimal Groups have been identified within a cohort of customers.

What was the process to build Acorn?

Combining CACI’s Address Spine with Census data

First, we took a snapshot of our CACI Address Spine data, which combines millions of data points from several sources into one file of editable information at postcode level that accurately illustrates the UK population. Secondly, the 2021 Census data provides a complete picture of the UK population, covering a range of demographic questions, including the type of property they live in.

Combining these two datasets creates a powerful base to build the Acorn segmentation.

Leveraging Deep Learning techniques to compress data

Next, our data scientists applied several artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) techniques while building Acorn. 

In the data processing stage, they leveraged advanced statistical and deep learning techniques to refine the values for the most important variables, also called driver variables. When generating new Acorn segments, they deployed machine-learning techniques to improve segmentation quality and algorithm speed. Finally, they used a cutting-edge deep learning technique for segmentation to conclude the best representation of the driver variable values. After that, ML techniques were used to interpret segments.

Generating descriptive data about Acorn segments

Acorn is applied to survey data from market research companies like YouGov, Ipsos FRS and Kantar’s TGI to create rich, detailed descriptions of each segment, including demographic composition, financial status, lifestyle interests and attitudes.

Benefits of using Acorn

One of Acorn’s greatest strengths is its powerful collateral that produces vast amounts of information to get the most out of the product and tailor your strategies accordingly. Acorn licence holders receive:

  • Pen Portraits for each segment
  • A powerful Dashboard and Excel Knowledge Sheet to explore Acorn at a more granular level
  • An Acorn Profiler tool to better understand your own data through the Acorn lens.

Personalised customer experiences

  • Acorn Explore: Compare variables that will inform personalised marketing campaign planning or the development of new products and services. From personalising content that resonates with different audiences to targeting, acquiring and developing profitable customer relationships, Acorn supplies the insights you need to achieve your goals.
  • Acorn Pen Portraits: Access granular details into the profiles of each Acorn Group to identify which Group would most likely engage with your product or service. An overview of their primary interests and behaviours helps you tailor your messaging and offerings to meet your desired audience’s needs.

Effective location planning

Brands within all types of industries from retail and leisure to financial and property use Acorn for location planning because of its ability to find areas of the UK where profiles match those of your existing customer base. As a result, you can find sites and stores that will be profitable for your business, optimise your branch network, fine-tune your offerings and appeal to the right tenant mix for your property assets.

Data-rich consumer profiles

Through our Acorn Profiler, you can easily upload and analyse postcode consumer data to enhance your understanding of the dominant demographic groups within your customer base. Postcodes are coded with their respective Acorn segment and can show any over or underrepresented segments. Data can also be exported with the segmentation details appended, and a report can be generated to supply a cohesive overview of commentary on customers.

Growth strategy based on market sizing

Acorn encompasses the UK population and displays the number of households at postcode sector level for each Category, Group and Type. This helps you gauge the number of consumers within the Acorn segments that are most relevant to your business and support your headroom calculations at local geographies.

Acorn use cases

Acorn has equipped organisations across many industries to grow their business and refine their customer understanding through data. You can read about them in our Case Study area.

CACI as your Acorn provider

CACI has been building trusted, robust classification systems used by brands and organisations across the UK for over 40 years. We are proud to be recognised as the UK’s leading consumer and market data analysis company and have established historic partnerships with global brands across a range of public and private sectors to optimise their performance.  

As the first agency to be granted permission to use Census data, we’ve developed an innate understanding of how to analyse and group this data to create the Acorn segmentation, identify any gaps and fill them accordingly. Our data scientists are known for their rigorous statistical expertise, turning vast amounts of data into useful, actionable insights.