Have you ever seen an ad that was just a little too specific? Maybe the advertisement targeted women with longer-lasting lipstick or men who need multi-blade razors. Perhaps the ad singled out an older crowd, well into their retirement, with medical alert bracelets. These are perfect examples of targeted marketing aimed toward a specific demographic.

Demographics are a crucial component of any marketing campaign. This data helps point out individuals within an audience or geographical area based on key attributes and needs. And it's these individuals who will be your most likely customers.

The basics of customer demographics

Demographics clearly describe your target crowds, subdividing individuals into categories based on habits or age groups. Essentially, you can concentrate your audience into specific groups that purchase products and services. Firmographic data and variables are statistics that help to classify individuals, locations and submarkets.

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With this information, you can allocate appropriate amounts of resources toward your marketing campaign to target customers with particular habits and traits. These are the most common demographic data sets used for marketing campaigns:

  • Tax bracket
  • Marital status
  • Geographic location
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Religious beliefs
  • Occupation
  • Age group
  • Education level

What is demographic segmentation?

Demographic segmentation is the indexing of target markets based on discrete variables like gender, income level, or education level. Demographic marketing is a crucial element of market segmentation. This type of segmentation helps to focus your marketing efforts toward a more receptive customer base.

For example, a video game company is looking to release its latest game. Its marketing team finds from their data that the company's most likely customer is a student between 15 and 25 living in a Midwest U.S. state. As a result, they may subdivide a target market by geographic area or age group.

The main segments of demographics

To fully appreciate the influence of demographics on purchases, it is crucial to examine the main segments that offer reliable indications for consumer behavior.

1. Age group

Whether we like it or not, specific age brackets tend toward certain habits. Your marketing campaign should account for consumer preferences evolving with time. Different generations have varied tastes. Baby boomers tend to have disposable income and more purchasing power -- generation Y may not.

Customers in an older generation may prefer emails and old-fashioned phone calls, while most millennials tend to spend a significant amount of time on social media platforms like Instagram.

Different age groups also respond differently to advertising campaigns. Imagine a car company trying to sell minivans. They'll probably be targeting people who are most likely to have multiple young children, which could be adults between 25 and 37.

2. Gender and familial status

Advertising campaigns targeting specific genders can draw public pushback if they're not done appropriately. Wording that demonstrates or suggests a bias toward one gender can kill a marketing campaign before it ever gets rolling.

But if your product is aimed at solving the problems of one gender over another, then this is an important factor to consider. Manufacturers of cosmetic products, for example, target women because fewer men use makeup. It's clear that gender can be a critical demographic parameter for marketing.

Familial status is a similar concept. A bachelor living alone will have different purchasing preferences to a couple with several children. Marketers need to consider this segmentation before running any ads that deviate from their target demographic.

3. Ethnicity and religion

Over the past few decades, the increase in international trade has created a drastic need for global advertising. However, different cultural backgrounds and ethnicities may have conflicting beliefs and attitudes. Coca-Cola, a behemoth of a multinational company, has a global presence. As a result, it needs to be aware that when its advertisements target specific regions, they're being mindful of local customs.

Religion can also be a factor. A marketing campaign advocating for contraceptives may not choose to run in a geographic location with more robust religious profiles.

4. Occupation and income

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A critical aspect related to income is occupation -- different fields offer contrasting salary packages. The CEO of a major conglomerate is likely a better target for a marketing sports car campaign than an elementary school teacher. This example highlights the main principle in account-based advertising, where individuals or accounts with the highest potential revenue become targets.

Airline companies are a perfect example of targeted marketing based on income levels. Economy, business and first-class tickets offer different options to people of varying income levels. Purchasing power plays a significant role here. A company wouldn't waste resources advertising to clients without the means to make these purchases.

Wrapping up

Targeted marketing campaigns help get your products closer to consumers. Just remember, narrowing down who you market to should aim to solve problems for your target audience, not exclude people who don't belong in that demographic.