Marketers need to fully understand whom they’re selling to

I could write endlessly on the fact that marketing seems to have forgotten that its main aim is to sell. Combined with this, many brand managers seem to focus solely on the 25 to 35 age group; seeing them as their key target audience. I contend that rather they should shift their preconceptions and look towards the demographic that has a higher disposable – namely Generation X – or those over 40.

However, it is more than that. Millennials and the so-called Generation Z are emerging as consumers for whom more doesn’t really mean very much. They shudder at past generations’ over consumption and have perhaps witnessed their parent’s pay for everything with endless credit, which has spiraled out of control. They have witnessed the bankrupting of an entire planet, both financially and morally. They know the true meaning of having everything and then losing it. These emerging consumers are not looking for the ubiquitous – they are looking for the scarcities that encompass things like wellness, honest and one-of-a-kindness.

Marketing and therefore selling to a generation that doesn’t ‘do’ average is tricky – gone are the days when a tempting banner ad will generate sales. This customer base wants something unique – something that they have co-created. For them, being able to customise a product to suit them is really where it is at – if they can’t create their own version of something they won’t buy it – end of.

And yet, at the other end of the age spectrum we have those over 40 – typically ignored by marketers who seem to go after the pink unicorns that are the younger generations.
Crazy really, when you think this bracket has the most disposable income and were the daredevils of their time – who do you think introduced us all to skate and snowboarding?

However, they are not an easy group to influence – tending to fall into four groups. And once you understand these clusters, then you can see how your brand can appeal to them. I wrote about this in a previous blog, but believe it is worth highlighting the four different segments of Generation X again. They can be classed as Pragmatics, Disenfranchised, Thrillers and Quality Seekers.

“Pragmatics” is the Generation Xers most interested in information and the Internet. They understand the intricacies of media and marketing. While they’re sometimes considered cynical, there is an underlying optimism in their outlook.

The “Disenfranchised” are those dissatisfied with the world and who feel they often are overlooked as they’re wedged between aging Baby-boomers and Gen Y who are now growing up.

“Thrillers” Thrillers are the adrenalin junkies who refuse to grow old. They contributed to the rise in extreme sports, such as snowboarding, skateboarding and skydiving. Remember the Olympics have now legitimized snowboarding.

Finally, the “Quality seekers”. This group is at the sweet spot of personal wealth and sophistication. Quality Seekers are almost cult-like loyal followers of high-quality, localized brands. Quality Seekers are willing to spend more to get superior ingredients and they are more likely to champion premium brands. They have become the trendsetters and the early adopters for their generation.

So, before you automatically write 24-30 year-olds or 35-45 year-olds in the Target Audience box on your Creative Brief. Pause.
Marketers need to ask themselves whether there is a better, more sophisticated and wealthier audience they could be talking to? An audience that is at best ignored and at worst, being patronized and wrongly stereotyped.

And remember, whether we are targeting Generation Z or X, thanks to the power of tech platforms, where the power of profiling and preference-collection is accepted, these digital consumers also expect communication to them to be unique. Traditional demographic segments such as age, gender, location, income, family status and more can no longer define consumption patterns.