Stat of the Day: The Problem With DMAs

Big Markets Contain Your Target -- and a Lot of Others

By Published on .

Chicago is the nation's third-largest metropolitan area with 9.5 million residents and 3.5 million households. The City of Chicago has 2.7 million residents and 1.0 million households. While broadcast media ad campaigns often reach the entire metro area, the differences between the big cities like Chicago and their suburbs is profound. Instinctively, you know this already, but it's always good to put some fresh numbers to it.

Less than one-third (32%) of city households are married couples vs. 55% of suburban households, for example. Non-families are nearly half (45%) of all households in the city vs. 29% in the suburbs. People who live alone are more than one in three city households (35%) compared to less than one-fourth (24%) of suburban households.

Chicago Households chart
Source: 2010 Census

The city's median age in the 2010 Census was 32.9 years, while the suburbs were at least four years older. Despite having a lower median age, only 23% of city residents are children compared to 26% in the suburbs.

The list goes on, and there are certainly huge variations within the city itself. The point is the market for household-related goods and services is significantly different in a place like Chicago, where only 14% are married with children, vs. 26% in the suburban areas.

They shouldn't be treated as one market.

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