Under The Microscope

The Name Game

Welcome to another Adventure In Pointless Data! We’ve previously looked at Google Trends, Alexa rankings, and weekend sales.

Today’s pointless data set is names, specifically (namely?) the names of our customers, as gleaned from our orders. These are the names that are entered as the customer’s mailing address, as that’s what’s stored. We ran a couple queries to find out our most popular names. In last names, we have the top five:

Rank Name Percent of total sales
1 Smith 0.62%
2 Johnson 0.40%
3 Jones 0.32%
4 Brown 0.31%
5 Miller 0.30%

These are pretty dull, almost exactly what you’d expect. All told, the top 5 most common last names aren’t even 2% of our orders – we’ve got a real Long Tail as far as last names go. The Long Tail is very in right now, so if you hear we got bought out for low-to-mid nine figures, believe it.

More interesting is a look at the most common first names:

Rank Name Percent of total sales
1 David 3.1%
2 John 2.8%
3 Michael 2.8%
4 Robert 1.8%
5 James 1.7%
6 Mark 1.5%
7 Richard 1.5%
8 Paul 1.4%
9 Peter 1.3%
10 William 1.1%

Here again we see some expected dominance in our top ten. If we add Chris and Christopher together, that’s in the top five as well with 1.7%. Overall, seeing what’s on the list isn’t too impressive – it matches up quite well with the government’s data.

There are, however, interesting things missing. There are almost no “foreign” names. Of the top 150 names, the top 100 are all standard (if not uniquely) American names. We do have Philippe at 119 and Alain at 147. But a full 1/3 of our sales come from outside the states. It would seem the rest of the (English-speaking) world just can’t get together on a consensus to raise a challenge. Heck, if they did, the US would likely wind up using the name anyway.

The real juicy tidbit here is actually the paucity of women, or at least women’s names. We have to go all the way to number 124 on our list before we get Susan, with just 0.13% of the orders (that’d be thirteen out of every ten thousand orders), and the only other woman in the top 150 is Jennifer at 139.

So, what’s the deal ladies? Perhaps our gun-toting mascot offends your feminine sensibilities? It can’t be as simple (and stupid) as that.The best theory I’ve heard so far, from Quentin, is that credit cards are often issued in a husband’s name. Other thoughts?

As always when we’re on an Adventure in Pointless Data, this information doesn’t provide much. Overall, it’s interesting to me personally and hopefully to you as well, if you like to geek out on tidbits pulled from large datasets. It’s also a bit frightening to see just how male-dominated our customer base appears to be. Considering what (if anything) that means, however, is left as an exercise to the reader.

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