Marketing Demographics – Who are you selling to?

One of the most important questions with any business proposition is “Who are you selling to?” Identifying this is critical, not only to successful marketing but to a successful business. The ability to segment consumers allows you to focus your messaging so it speaks to you target segment most clearly. For example, if you are launching a new App to find out the latest Grime releases and gigs you may find yourself struggling if your selling to retirees with very little digital device interaction who haven’t got a scooby about what grime music is.

But what are demographics? Demographics are one of the may ways to segment a market and often form the basis of more details marketing segmentation approaches such as ACORN, Mosaic or NRS (don’t worry we’ll go into more detail on these later). There is some variety to what makes up demographic segmentation but the main identifiers are normally considered: age, race, religion, gender, family size, ethnicity, income, and education. Knowing what your customer looks like in terms of these categories will drastically improve your ability to speak to them.

There exist a plethora of digital platforms that will provide data on who is interacting with your brand and purchasing your product/service, and often companies are surprised to find out who they thought their audience and customers were massively differs from who the actually are. Another important factor to consider is that there are occasions that your consumers and purchasers are different, so who should your marketing and product appeal to? The user or the purchaser? Take children’s toys; 6 year olds rarely have the means to afford the toys they desire so are reliant on their parents to purchase them for them. Yet we rarely see toys (with the exception of educational toys) extolling the benefits of a toy to parents in their advertising instead the bright colours and engaging sounds used in the adverts certainly build excitement in children and tap into Pester-Power to motivate kids to “encourage” their parents to buy them toys. A tried and very effective tactic. But to do it effectively you need to understand the person your selling to; not parents in there 20’s and 30’s earning £30k p/a, instead 6 year old children with zero income. This is, admittedly, quite a blunt example but it does effectively demonstrate the importance of understanding who you are selling to and shape how you should sell to them.

A strategy that is often effective is, once you know who you are selling to, is to look at other brands that sell to them. If you are selling a luxury brand, how do Lamborghini, Hublot & Gucci communicate with them. If you know your demographics are nailed on then this can be a very effective “cheat” to understanding what branding, tone of voice and content is going to effectively speak to them. You have allowed them to conduct market research on your behalf.

With any new proposition you will always start with “assumptions” about who you are selling to, companies often test these assumptions in a variety of ways from focus groups to split test marketing. This can be an expensive and time-consuming process and can result in quite sometime before you start selling at sustainable levels, something that for SME’s is often not an option, so you try to be as accurate with your assumptions from the start, in this respect, demographic segmentation can actually be quite limited; Asian men, aged 40 -50, of college level education with families of 4 -5 members might sound like quite a targeted segment, but it ignores many factors that influence buying decisions. Thought processes, habits, geography, past experiences – all of these play a part, which is why behavioural, psychographic and geographic segmentation exist, but in this age of unique, real-time data, these are still quite limited.

So to get a really understand of the segment you are targeting you must go more granular again. For this are, handily, a number of different frameworks that exist to assist with this. One of the most popular is ACORN Consumer Classification. This segments households, postcodes and neighbourhoods into 6 categories, 18 groups and 62 types by analysing significant social factors and population behaviour, it provides precise information and an in-depth understanding of the different types of people.

The above image is an example of one of the 62 types detailed in these classifications, the information contained within can be vital to helping shape your communications with your target consumers. As you can see the information here can provide far greater insight than standard demographic segmentation and means that you can go out with far better assumptions, which should lead to far less testing and iterating and ultimately far more effective conversations with consumers.

Categories: Marketing

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