Traditional demographic marketing segmentation by age, race, gender, location, family status or income is not as important as it used to be 10 years ago, as a direct result of the more fluid, open and diverse society we have today. Our society has been reshaping conventional social, cultural, and sexual norms to become a stereotype-free “consumer base” that requires different marketing approaches.
For example, did you know that people aged 45-54 adopt digital technology at the same pace as 16-20 year olds? And Twitter’s fastest growing user group in 2012-2013 was not teenagers, but people 55-63 years old. Lastly, in the UK, the majority of video game players are women over age 44, not teenagers under the age of 18!
The term ‘post-demographic consumerism’ has been developed as a new approach to target consumers of all ages in all markets by addressing their very specific needs, instead of segmenting them by conventional demographic models of consumer behavior.
Diving a bit deeper, let’s look at the four main reasons why we see post-demographic consumerism becoming a trend now.
- Access. Consumers of all ages and demographics in all markets are increasingly buying and using products and services from the same mega-brands like Amazon, Apple, and Facebook, to name a few. The familiarity people have with these mega-brands plus the global reach of consumer information enabled by the internet has created a new level of post-demographic shared experience for consumers, from 16 to 60 and from Boston to Beijing.
- Permission. Society, in general, has become much more socially liberal as many traditional conventions – from family structures to gender roles – have collapsed. Individuals are encouraged to embrace “the new normality” irrespective of culture, language, age or gender.
- Ability. Individuals are able to personalize and express themselves through the product consumption to a greater degree than ever before. Social networks allow people to easily identify with brands, products and services; even those that they don’t or can’t afford to purchase.
- Desire. Consumerism and status have always been linked. Historically, status symbols have been material goods, which required money to obtain. However, new status symbols are evolving, which include experiences, authenticity, connection, health, and ethical and sustainable lifestyles. These ‘new’ status symbols essentially change the balance of power between the generations, and are open to all, regardless of age, income and location.
So, what do you as an entrepreneur or business owner do with this information? Here are four key ways to turn this trend into opportunities:
- Embrace the new normal. Follow in the footsteps of Coca Cola and Honey Maid. Coca Cola recently launched a multi-racial/lingual, cultural campaign called “America the Beautiful”. The one-minute ad called “It’s beautiful” was a patriotic rendition of the song ‘America the Beautiful’ sung in seven different languages and was created to showcase our country’s incredible diversity.
Honey Maid launched a campaign featuring the hashtag #notbroken, celebrating post-divorce families.
- Commit ‘heritage heresy’. Rising numbers of consumers are embracing brands that play with, subvert, and even explode their own heritage. For example, Rolls-Royce partnered with Microsoft, making its first foray into the world of gaming with an appearance in Forza Motorsports 5 for Xbox One. As one of the most popular racing video games on the market, Forza will help to bring Rolls-Royce to a younger and highly engaged audience.
Another example is Sotheby’s partnering with eBay to provide shoppable livestreams from New York auctions.
- Adopt cross-demographic fertilization. Shared taste and aspiration among generations provides the opportunity to transfer innovations from a core demographic to another. The opportunities with this one have never been greater. For example, CNA Language School’s model of education allows Brazilian students to connect with retired Americans via webcam for language lessons.
Another interesting example is P’tit Vélib, the world’s first bike-sharing program for kids, located in Paris.
- Develop a micro-niche. Target and cater to a smaller (and ever more accurate) interest-based segments instead of the usual, broad traditional demographics. Consider the example of Lean Machine Ale, a beer that touts itself as a low-calorie beverage that aids in post-workout recovery. Or Vogmask, the first ever stylish, reusable , filtering face mask.
Understanding consumers’ wants and needs remains absolutely critical. However, those that take a broad view and learn from innovations that are delighting customers in seemingly ‘opposing’ or non-traditional demographics will rise above and succeed.