It is universally accepted that stereotypes are overwhelmingly negative. They reduce people down to a narrow set of characteristics, disconnecting any elements of individuality while simultaneously reinforcing misconceptions.
Designed for simpler, less modern times of mass communications, demographic characterisation falls short when faced with the modern consumer. So why are people so attached to seemingly outdated demographic profiling?
Lazy demographic stereotypes eliminate the need for thought, and marketing is awash with them. We’ve all heard of the silver surfer, financially secure Baby Boomer, the entitled, avocado eating, narcissistic Millennial and the tech obsessed, anti-social and ‘woke’ Gen Z- yet these collective stereotypes simply resemble consumers who share some limited likeness.
When did you ever hear anyone refer to themselves as a marketing generational definition? You most likely haven’t, because these profiles don’t work in the real world.
People are never just one thing, or one sets of characteristics. We’re multi-faceted and nuanced. Our personalities, moods and behaviours are often contradictory and ever-evolving.
Think about professional you vs casual you. You on a Monday vs you on a Saturday. Do you think, behave and consume products in the same way? Chances are you don’t. You’re hardly shaking your friend’s hand at the pub on a Friday night, or hugging your boss on a Monday morning!
Demographics create parameters that aren’t human shaped. Exclusively using demographics may give you a loose idea of the ‘who’, but it won’t provide an indication to the ‘how’ or the ‘why’, which is crucial in marketing. It is reductionist, disregarding difference, uniqueness or cultural shifts. It won’t tell you anything related to sentiment, concerns, attitudes or emotional triggers that drive your consumers’ decisions- elements that your brand messaging and marketing is so dependent on.
Human beings are not just statistical data that is easily categorised and precisely segmented. We’re complicated, and therefore just focusing on demographics can be detrimental. You also need to consider the psychographics of your target consumer, to gain a more comprehensive understanding of who you are attracting. This enables you to create content of value, market effectively and encourage your ideal audience to find YOU.
Do you think demographic profiling is slightly outdated? Let us know in the comments below!
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