6 Mar 2020

Responding to changing demographics in your audience

Social media expert Paul Ince provides an insight into the changing demographics and persona of your customer, including the habits of decisionmakers and ways to communicate with these new audiences.

Image of Paul Ince

One of the first exercises someone like me, a marketer, conducts with an organisation trying to improve the way they communicate is one that identifies the core target audience. Who are your customers? Where are they? What do they respond to? What are the issues they experience and how can working with you resolve them?

There are businesses that have many different customer personas who they need to talk to but, more often than not, the marketing team will focus on a key market or description of the type of people the company wants to attract and learn the many ways they need to interact with them.

When you have a single audience to communicate with, it’s relatively easy to get into the practice of talking to that ‘person’; you’ve mastered who they are and feel comfortable using language you know works.

Image of peoples faces

However, audiences and technology change. As an extreme case, that original audience gets older. People move on in their role and are replaced by others who may have different needs. People progress into roles where they have decision-making capabilities. Before you know it, what was the Snapchat generation are running multi-million-pound budgets. These people don’t suddenly stop using Snapchat and start using LinkedIn.

Your next generation of customers may be somewhere other than where you think they are and may have different habits. As we head into a new decade, now is a good time to review where your customers, and future customers, are and consider how to communicate with them.

Younger audiences are much savvier than they are sometimes given credit for. Digital natives, they spend more time on their smartphone and are happy to live their life through a lens on platform like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.They like to be entertained more than they like to be sold to. That’snot to say they don’t like marketing; instead they prefer to understand what the concept is, how something works (even if that’s a process) and see examples of others using something or referencing something before they put their trust in a business and part ways with their budget.

A 2016 study by Gallup found that Millennials were less concerned with privacy - specifically the knowledge that some of their personal information was being used to ensure advertising remained relevant - but wanted companies to keep data secure.

While some demographics may feel negatively about seeing ads ‘follow them’ around the web, businesses can take advantage by using remarketing strategies to show highly relevant creative to more receptive audiences at the right time.

Generally speaking, younger audiences respond well to video and visual marketing. The content needs to be enjoyable, payment in lieu for their attention. So, how can an organisation adapt to draw in younger audiences, or changing behaviours as audiences mature? Think about showing the experience rather than the product or service

  • Use platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok to be more creative in messaging
  • Choose staff members that fall into the demographic, so they talk to their peers - BBC News does this very well
  • Get involved in challenges on these platforms to show the human face of your business brand
  • Show company values – they matter more to younger audiences
  • If you are an ecommerce business, integrate your store with platforms that allow it such as Instagram or Pinterest

It can be hard to split time between a well known demographic and a new audience. Unless you are noticing a shift in behaviour, it isn’t essential that you suddenly pivot from your successful LinkedIn strategy to one solely focused on TikTok. Time and technology, however, is only moving forward. Taking time to investigate these new audiences, platforms and content strategies will pay dividends for the future.

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