If you’re a past supplier – big or small – thank you for all you’ve done for us.
Over the years, lots of companies supplied SPA with everything from phones to paper clips. Most were wholly unremarkable. The likes of BT and Barclays Bank did a satisfactory job, and would have been replaced had they repeatedly failed us. A smaller number – companies like Del, Country Bumpkins and Printcentre, Coventry – did an excellent job, but again would have been easy to replace had they let us down, or even come close. However, there are a few key suppliers that were absolutely essential to SPA’s business and without whom we could not have done most of the analysis work on which we depended. To these key suppliers we owe a huge debt of gratitude:
SPA sold its geodemographics software to Experian (then CCN) and from then on sold MOSAIC and other Experian database and software products on licence. MOSAIC, Experian mapping data, and drivetimes were all lynchpins of SPA’s analysis and consultancy services. The various competing geodemographic classifications – ACORN, Personicx, MOSAIC and so on – may sometimes look like different brands of cars with little to choose between them. MOSAIC was the marque we were proud to drive, and to use in our predictive models and segmentation systems.
The retail sector was an important focus for SPA consultancy: Retail Locations data was and still is the best available. Using Retail Locations data, we developed our award-winning Segmentz system – classifying retail sites based on the kind of people who lived roundabout, the kinds and numbers of people employed locally, and the kinds of retail outlets close by.
SPA’s MD Mark Shaw was formerly Production Director of Market Location Ltd, and was keen to develop a relationship with ML based around profiling of business to business (B2B) customers, and using ML data to build predictive models showing where new customers were likely to be found. As a result, Market Location quickly became SPA’s prime source for all B2B data.
As producers of the UK Census of Population, ONS is indispensable to serious geodemographic analysis and modelling in the UK. Since ONS data was undoubtedly the best available, SPA became a Census agent. Scottish and Welsh devolution fragmented the service – with different data, definitions, release schedules, and supply points in each home nation. But you can’t argue with a monopoly – even a fragmenting one – and until we ceased trading SPA continued to use ONS data.
Royal Mail produced the missing link – a file called POSTZON giving an OS grid reference for every Postcode – this alone making it indispensable for geodemographic analysis. Better still, POSTZON was an optional extra in Royal Mail’s Postcoding & address management product UK Addresses. Again SPA became an agent. More recently, Royal Mail went awry – targeting all its efforts on big customers – huge credit checking bureaux, large mail users, and those handling lots of addresses. Small consultancies were priced out, and SPA was forced to end its agency agreement.