Demographic and Lifestyle Databa Practical Application to Stimulating Compliance With Mammography Guidelines Among Poor Women


Cynthia Curence (1993) ,"Demographic and Lifestyle Databa Practical Application to Stimulating Compliance With Mammography Guidelines Among Poor Women", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, eds. Leigh McAlister and Michael L. Rothschild, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 371-372.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, 1993      Pages 371-372


Cynthia Curence, American Cancer Society


In the 1930s, the data were available to enable organizations and individuals to predict human behavior and responses based on analysis of basic demographic characteristics, lifestyle habits and dominant media behavior. At that time, however, the technology was not available to perform the analysis. Today, several companies have blended the power of the computer with available demographic, lifestyle and media data to offer a dynamic marketing tool to progressive businesses.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) purchased such a tool two years ago from Claritas. The product, called Compass, crunches census data, consumer buyer behavior data, and media behavior data to divide residents of the United States into one of 40 types of people. Members of each type or cluster have similar characteristics and tend to behave in similar ways. The ACS has been using Compass effectively to save lives from cancer through targeted efforts to educate people about their risk of cancer, to focus delivery of services to cancer patients and their families, and to tailor fundraising activities to specific types of people.

In the area of breast cancer, ACS staff and volunteers knew through experience and other behavioral research, that they were not reaching the poor woman as effectively as they were the middle-class woman. This was validated in recent research commissioned by ACS (Jacobs Institute, 1992), which showed that over a two year period, while a 10% increase was measured among middle-class women having mammograms, no increase was detected among poor women. The ACS determined that the product of mammography screening needed to be made more relevant for poor women. Through Compass, ACS generated secondary data that (along with primary qualitative research on attitudes and barriers to mammography among poor women) enabled a dramatic adaptation of the product to the poor market.

It should be noted that Compass is just one tool used to understand the market and suggest product adaptations. Qualitative and quantitative research regarding attitudes, perceptions, barriers and benefits are critical to overall strategy development.


To increase the percentage of older poor women (over age 50 and making less than $20,000 annually) in Atlanta's inner city who follow the ACS mammography guidelines.


Reports and mapping capabilities available through the Compass target marketing system shows the specific census tract areas in Atlanta where an investigator is twice as likely to find the target audience (women over age 50 making less than $20,000 per year). Some of the key demographic descriptors of the five types of poor that dominate this area are:

Characteristic                                Index

- African-American                       415 *

- Households w/o cars                  272

- Households w/ single parents      213

- Population unemployed              173

- Population in service jobs           162

- Less than high school education 160

* An index of 100 is average.

These data suggest that to reach this target audience, it is likely that issues of transportation, day care, employment and literacy (or low reading levels) will have to be addressed.

Some key consumer buyer characteristics of this group are that they:

Characteristic                                     Index

- Listen to soul/black music                 170

- Listen to gospel/sacred music           158

- Saw 4+ movies in the past 90 days  123

- Travel by bus                                    119

- Consume cola drinks regularly           118

Although not as dramatic as the demographic characteristics, these data reinforce transportation-related issues. They also point to a type of radio that may be favored, low-cost entertainment that might be a good communication vehicle, and a possible sponsor for activities reaching this group.

Some key media behavior characteristics follow:

Characteristic                                 Index

- Batch black entertainment TV      318

- Top 20% day time TV viewing    184

- Urban/contemporary radio          292

Although television viewership is high, since nonprofits do not have control over the placement or frequency of free TV commercials and most nonprofits do not have budgets for paid advertising, television is not the best place to advertise. Further, even though radio ranks very high, because of the importance of transportation and employment issues, it is likely that a significant portion of the target group may be watching TV or riding the bus during drive-time radio periods.

The system can graphically map the highest concentration of low-level service jobs and the location of hospitals in the area.

Qualitative and quantitative research shows that the greatest barriers to this market seeking mammograms are the lack of physician referrals, cost, fear, and a realistic attitude about access to follow-up health care. Even if a program could satisfy concerns relating to transportation, cost, day care, and referral, the market still might not respond because of limited access to further care. In other words, if a woman finds out that she has cancer, she would have limited treatment alternatives. Therefore, some would prefer not to know and would choose not be to screened.


1. Work with the six hospitals in the heart of the Atlanta market's residence and day time population.

2. In cooperation with the hospitals, develop a program that addresses day care and transportation needs, cost, treatment alternatives, and low level reading capabilities of the target market.

3. Create/make available low reading level literature and increase one-to-one contact with the market to address fear and concerns about access to care.

4. Work with area clinics to inform doctors about the availability of low-cost/free screening and the availability, if possible, of treatment support to encourage them to refer poor women to the hospitals for screening.

5. Use such nontraditional media as bus shelter posters, bus cards, billboards, and theater trailers to promote the availability of mammography for the poor.



Cynthia Curence, American Cancer Society


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20 | 1993

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