Is Demographic-Based Marketing Alienating Your Customers?

Marketing to a certain demographic, be it gender, age or socio-economic group, is commonplace when choosing a target audience. But does this miss a trick? Can we really assume we “know” what a consumer wants from our brand based off the fact they are a 25-year-old male?

It certainly seems like an arbitrary way to group people together. These broad stroke generalisations make a risky assumption – that all 25-year-old males, for example, are the same. Society is increasingly rejecting these wide, haphazard classifications of people, so why should we accept them in marketing? The world is moving more and more towards celebrating the individual and the differences between us – marketing needs to keep pace!

In an ideal marketing world, we would market to the consumer on a one-to-one basis. This means that no two consumers would see the exact same content from our business – each and every one would have a unique message, tone, presentation, and call-to-action – even if the differences are only minor. The content would be tailored to the individual’s particular personality and their mood when they are consuming the content.

Imagine how much more effective our marketing would be if this were achievable?

Unfortunately – it is not. There are technology, data processing, and resource limitations that just mean this isn’t realistic. Interest based online marketing has brought us closer to this ideal – but even that comes with a myriad of problems, like data privacy and being trapped in “content bubbles” – a scenario where you are overexposed to the same type of content, so little differentiates itself.

Nevertheless, our aim should be to market to individual consumers on a one-to-one basis. The more the consumer feels that we are doing this, the better.

The question then is – how do we achieve this?

The answer is simple – we need to know our customers. To be able to speak to them directly, we need insight into who they are on a much deeper level. We need to move away from demographic-based marketing and find the meaningful and important links between people so that our messages resonate with the individual, even though they target groups of people. The more we know about our customers, the more we can achieve this. However, fail to do this and risk getting left behind in an increasingly competitive world of marketing.

So, to finish this thought piece, I’d like to ask you a question, (or two).

Who are your customers? And do you really know them?

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