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Success in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors depends on how well we know our audience. We often turn to demographics as the foundation of any audience profile. While demographic variables include age, gender, ethnicity, income, occupation, geographic location, etc., we frequently talk about demographics in terms of specific generational cohorts (Baby Boomers, GenY, etc.).
A MediaPost article by Nancy Shonka Padberg reminded me that it sometimes helps to put a face with a name when thinking about those generational cohorts. Take a look at these famous faces as a reminder of how these cohorts continue to shift:
Gen Y – Justin Bieber: Age 18
While experts differ on Millennial birth dates, the cohort generally includes those born between 1980 and 1998 – that can mean anyone between age 15 to 33. With a population estimated at roughly 70-80 million, they are often described as the most educated, diverse, tech-savvy generation ever. So if you thought that the cohort is too young for you to be concerned about…think again!
Gen X – Cameron Diaz: Age 40
Generation X includes those born between 1964 and 1980 (that’s the 33 to 49 age bracket). This cohort is often described as independent, ambitious and family-centric. A Census Bureau study released last summer found that between 2005 and 2010, Gen X households saw the biggest percent decline in median household net worth.
Baby Boomer – Brad Pitt: Age 49
This is the one that shakes up many younger marketers, especially with so many researchers talking about the statistic that roughly 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach retirement age every day for the next 19 years. Take a good look at Brad. While he is among the younger half of the Baby Boomer generation, his entire cohort holds 70% of wealth in the United States and stand to inherit $15 trillion in the next 20 years. A report by Nielsen in collaboration with BoomAgers, dubbed Baby Boomers the “Most Valuable Generation” and cautions marketers not to ignore them.
Silent Generation – Dustin Hoffman: Age 75
The Silent Generation is the label for those born between 1925–1945 notably during the Great Depression and World War II – that’s 68 to 88 years old. This cohort has generally experienced vast cultural shifts in their lifetime and, as a result, value traditional morals, safety and security as well as conformity, commitment and consistency. They are not, however, to be stereotyped as the frail and lonely; and marketers should understand the difference between chronological and cognitive age.
A Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends survey showed that many in this cohort feel younger than their actual age — in many cases much younger. Most are retired from the workforce, but still shape the workplace and their communities by playing active roles on corporate and civic boards. Thanks to advances in health and longevity, the unique communication preferences of this cohort must remain on most marketer’s radar screen.
Developing a demographic and psychographic profile of your target is a crucial step in building a marketing or communication plan. Remember, your community’s demographics can shift significantly in as little as two years. If you thought you knew your market demographics, take another look. Take the time to understand the values and life stage of your target market.
On the eve of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida there is much to be learned about marketing. Regardless of your political affiliation, paying attention to both political conventions will be very informative – due largely to the level of sophistication campaigns have reached in shaping perceptions about their candidates. As a recent New York Times article points out, experts from television and the Broadway stage have been tapped to create positive impressions of presidential nominee Mitt Romney. A $2.5 million Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired theatrical stage has been built to project an image of warmth, approachability and openness – qualities not readily associated with the GOP’s nominee.
Read the whole article here and tune in to some of their prime time stage show – GOP branding will be kicked into high gear.
un·in·spired Adjective – Lacking in imagination or originality
Yesterday I was walking through a neighborhood in Chicago and noticed this ad for Fifth Third Bank. As I posted on Twitter, you’d think that a bank this size could come up with a more compelling, relevant marketing message. It is a nice sentiment. The intent of the message seems safe enough…but is anyone likely to pay attention?
Fifth Third is a regional bank headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. They have $111 billion in assets, 6 million customers and 1,314 branches. Given their size and the diversity of their markets, you’d expect a rather sophisticated and strategic approach to marketing messages.
Admittedly, they are challenged to reach out to a wide range of audiences. In recent days they’ve announced various Hispanic Heritage Month events and activities in some of their markets. They also expanded their alliance with nationally syndicated radio talk show host Dave Ramsey on educating high school students about personal finance. So, why this rather uninspired signage in a demographically diverse urban market?
Their website declares “To win and retain the loyalty of our growing and diverse customer base, our staff, signage and marketing messages have to reflect the consumers for whom we work to provide financial solutions.” The above ad seems to miss on two fronts:
- Most research into consumer behavior suggests consumer confidence is down and many segments of the population continue to be more concerned over immediate financial needs rather than long-term “dreams”; and
- The standing that financial institutions once held as a trusted partner has been tarnished by the recession, sluggish recovery and negative news about Wall Street. “Working together” is over used and likely to be undervalued by the banking customer – especially given the post-recession consumer move toward self-reliance.
Marketing messages must align with your target audiences’ mindset and current needs. An ad, no matter how much space it is given, will not compel a consumer to act if it is perceived to be inauthentic or out of touch.
As I wrap up business for the holiday, I thought I’d share a quick link to MediaPost’s analysis of the worst marketing nightmares of 2010. Their story points to the BIG mistakes — the ones that can’t be covered up with apologies and media buys — like the Gap’s rebranding decision. YIKES. Thankfully they retreated from this logo quickly and kept their old logo, and learned that their customers actually care!
What can we learn from these blunders? The article essential points to how the agencies responsible for these marketing mishaps were nowhere to be found when trouble hit…and the client was left standing alone. Perhaps that is the thing to keep in mind in 2011…ultimately, you are your own brand champion. If a creative team offers something that doesn’t seem to fit, run – do not walk – to the nearest exit!
That’s it for now. Have a great holiday. I’ll be back on 1/3/2011!
MediaPost Publications reported today that commuters traveling through Washington D.C. and Atlanta train stations will encounter oversized barbells, digital cameras, high-heeled shoes and tricycles on their way to work.
MasterCard and SunTrust Bank are behind the initiative, which touts the benefits of using a MasterCard-branded Check Card from SunTrust. Cardholders can log on to a Web site to receive 20% to 30% off various online purchases.
“Overwhelming” is the campaign’s theme, which explains the massive props outside train stations. Most displays feature scannable QR codes that deliver consumers to a microsite that offers an “Overwhelming Offer” of the day.
MediaPost is the media, marketing and advertising professional’s leading resource for complete news coverage, engaging events, a focused social network, and comprehensive industry jobs, directories and research. Please visit their site here.
I came across an editorial this morning that points out that a couple of the biggest assumptions on which much of this election cycle’s anti-incumbent fervor is based are, in fact, false. With the mid-term election now less than 30 days away, there is mounting evidence that the government’s actions with the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and other government-financed rescue efforts actually worked.
While the economy is not where most would want it to be, it appears it could have been much worse. In this blog I try to address topics related to marketing and brand communications more than politics…but this is definitely where the fields intersect. Read “Reality vs. perception – TARP, rescue plans worked” here. It will be interesting to see if perceptions about these programs can be shifted.
Lust. According to author Sally Hogshead, lust is a universal trigger that I just happen to use to fascinate others. Who knew? Over the weekend I revisited the brief online survey based on her popular new book, Fascinate in which she explores the multifaceted world of what makes things…well…fascinating!
She describes fascination as “the most powerful way to influence decision making. It’s more persuasive than marketing, advertising, or any other form of communication. And it all starts with seven universal triggers: lust, mystique, alarm, prestige, power, vice, and trust.”
Through this framework, Sally prompts marketers (among others) to think about the way their messages inspire consumers to create messages of their own about the brand:
“Fascination plays a role in every type of decision making, from the brands you choose to the songs you remember, from the person you marry to the employees you hire. And by activating the right triggers, you can make anything become fascinating.”
What triggers do you use to persuade? Take her test here.