Demographics – specifics about the customers you are targeting as a business – has always been a big part of marketing. This remains true today. With all the complicated and ingenious sounding marketing advice that can be found in current times on the internet and elsewhere, it can be possible to lose sight of the fact that basics like demographics are of fundamental importance. Let’s go into this issue a little more deeply.
The Big Picture
In addressing any problem or task it is always important to get the big picture. This means that you need a large and complete view of the project being undertaken in order to know how to approach it in an overall way. In this case the project is selling a product or service. The big picture in marketing terms is an expansive and yet clear view of customers and potential customers along with a corresponding plan as to how to best reach them.
Demographics are the specifics concerning your customers. These specifics eventually add up to larger picture. But it must be emphasized that the more detailed and well correlated these specifics are, the greater the resolution of the big picture can be. It is thus important to look at the particulars of demographics in a fairly detailed way and and see how they fit together and add up to a big picture type totality.
The “Community” Approach
Before we take a look at the 5 basic demographic categories of age, gender, income level, race, and ethnicity, a word about the “community approach is in order. It is helpful to see your customers not merely as statistics and categories but as real people, and real people are members of a community. First and foremost they are members of the gigantic community known as the human race, but thereafter they fall into smaller sub-communities and cultures that can be analyzed to good effect with regard to marketing. You may, for instance want to look into the types of real world or online communities – professional communities, communities of collective interest, communities based on buying patterns, and so on – to which your customers belong. This will help to humanize these customers.
The 5 Basic Demographic Categories
As noted above the 5 basic demographic categories are age, gender, income level, race, and ethnicity. Let’s take a look at each of these categories and how detailed attention to them feeds into a successful marketing effort. Marketing research can be used to identify target demographics among existing and potential customers and thus form a demographic specific plan for reaching these people.
The age of a customer obviously has a lot to do with their buying patterns. Young individuals, middle aged individuals, and older individuals all tend to have certain interests, wants and needs. A marketing plan needs to use an understanding of customer age groups as part of their plan to market to these individuals.
Gender is another demographic that is highly decisive in how marketing messages are presented. Men and women respond to different types of advertising and the products themselves generally appeal to one or the other or both. This should be factored into both marketing research and the marketing plans.
It isn’t hard to see how the income level of a customer or potential customer factors into the marketing plan a business uses. The price of products and services needs to be tailored to the ability of customers to pay for them and this is often determined by the income bracket into which they fall. So this demographic information is a vital to a successful marketing plan.
The race, as opposed to the ethnicity (discussed below), is the biologically based racial heritage of a customer. Is the customer Caucasian, Hispanic, Black, Asian, some other race, or some combination? The fact is that though this by no means defines a customer’s buying behavior, there are racial correlates that can be made between racial heritage and the types of marketing to which a customer may best respond. So a good marketing plan deals this kind of target demographics as well.
Ethnicity is the national/cultural group to which the customer belongs. This thus or may not be related to race because people of different races inhabit many different countries and regions. This can affect the marketing plan in somewhat a similar way to the way in which race works. Certain ethnicities tend to respond to certain products and marketing messages.
It isn’t hard to see how the above categories factor into the idea of community as well. Each of the five demographic can potentially bring individuals together into various communities both real world and online. Don’t neglect basic target demographics and a detailed understanding of them when forming marketing plans. They have long been, and remain, some of the most decisive factors in find the customers to whom your business should be devoting its marketing efforts.
Zach Simmons is the Founder and president of Discuss.io. Zach has 20 years of experience building software. Prior to founding Discuss.io, he was the Technical Product Manager for Amazon Web Services (S3) where he ran the team that built the infrastructure that now powers a significant percentage of the modern Internet. Zach holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
An entrepreneurial leader, Zach is passionate about building disruptive and agile SaaS based market research startups as an alternative to traditional market research. Seeing a need for change within the Industry, Zach launched Discuss.io, bringing Market Research to the digital age.