Age and gender, profession and marital status. We all know the classic marketing agency demographic segments, but recent research shows pros at the cutting edge of the industry are leaving these old categories behind.
As any regular readers of our blog will know, we spend a huge amount of time researching the latest trends in the comms sector. Hence coming across this study by Marketing Week, which looked at 800 marketers in 23 sectors and shows times have shifted to match modern society. Which makes perfect sense.
44% of marketers surveyed said that behaviour was now the most useful audience differentiator. This method of segmentation has seen a sharp rise in use over the last five years, roughly tying in with the dawn of the big data era. Marketers now have more information available on consumer habits, and we can’t see that changing soon.
Personal interests, life stage, attitude, income, wealth and budget are now key sub-categories agencies and brands are taking into consideration. Any marketing agency worth its weight in clients should know this makes perfect sense.
No more wasteful mass-marketing agency demographics
Proctor & Gamble offers a case in point. No longer interested in ‘wasteful mass-marketing’ but instead looking at ‘mass one-to-one’, the company has identified 350 smart audiences. Each with its own unique attributes.
Danone, meanwhile, came up with 16 tribes to segment the population. Each was served a different YouTube clip to promote Volvic water, and the brand saw a 40% lift in ad-recall.
But you still can’t touch the classics
Despite these examples, factors such as age and location remain useful touch-points, even in light of huge changes to stereotypes associated with both.
Our hometown of Manchester, for example, now has an annual population surplus after decades of deficit. A reverse brain drain with more graduates staying in the city than leaving, and people relocating from parts of the country previously considered more attractive options. The traditional identity has been shaken up.
Looking at age, millennials— who at the top end are pushing 40— are often labelled as perpetual adolescents. Retirees proudly don t-shirts to show they’re spending their kids inheritance on adventure travel.
But both demographic categories are still important as better targeting abilities come into play. Location-specific marketing campaigns focussed on fixed regional assets, rather than typecasts, can be hugely effective. Using reference points that resonate with a specific age group, as oppose to assuming the whole age group shares similar interests, is also a proven approach.
All about insights and your objectives
What all this means is brands, marketing agencies, PRs and advertisers need to understand, analyse and use insights more than ever. As leaders and clued-up challengers set new benchmarks with their campaign work consumer expectations mature. What was once innovative personalisation becomes industry standard.
Ultimately, it’s about knowing what you offer, and who you’re offering it to, then adapting how you segment that market based on key issues triggering purchasing decisions. What are different customers looking for from your product? What does that service mean to them given their lifestyle choices? Gauge this correctly and it becomes far easier to draw new lines in the sand and create a consumer map that’s more complex, but better suited to the complexity of modern life.