CHAPTER 6 Demographics is history: moving on from predictive marketing

If you learned your marketing trade any time in the past 60 years, there’s a very good chance a large part of what you learned was related to demographic profiling, the statistical art of putting people into behaviour buckets. These were clusters created to define what people believe and how they’re likely to behave so that they could be ‘targeted’ with financial efficiency. It was the marketing diet I was brought up on, and I believed it to be accurate in most ways, until I realised that everything I saw in the ‘real world’ flew in the face of demographics. It’s not surprising, when we have a close look at what makes up our demographics, to see that it’s no longer an accurate measure. Once marketers start to dig deep, it’s apparent that demographics is a tool that’s past its marketing ‘use by’ date and that there are better ways to engage with an audience that actually wants to hear from us. Rather than mind-spamming a large group of people who may be interested in what we offer because some demographer has said they behave a certain way. Actually it’s even a bit more sinister than that. The truth is that the large majority of demographics were self-perpetuating. Choice in the market was limited, self-expression was limited, the ability to connect was largely geographically based and culture was defined by gatekeepers and tastemakers. The way demographics ‘got fed’ shaped the beast itself, rather than the ...

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