Historically, the concept of demographics was dominated by relatively generic factors such as age or gender. This has proved to be increasingly ineffective and meaningless in the digital age, with evolved concepts such as big data and analytical CRM now making it possible to target real-time behaviours and attitudes in a bid to more accurately segment customers.
This means forgetting everything that you think you know about your target market, as you look to identify, segment and convert your prospective audience in a more informed and ultimately effective way.
In this post, we’ll consider the changing face of consumer demographics, while also asking how you can effectively find and target audiences using increasingly influential out-of-home (OOH) advertising.
Why is Understanding your Target Market so Important?
The shift in how consumer demographics are perceived represents a seminal development in the commercial world, and one that your business must understand if it is to keep pace with its competitors. After all, the ability to understand your target market is central to the success of your business, as without this its impossible to sell your proposition effectively or claim a viable market share.
Let’s start with a simple question: why should customers spend their money with your business?
The most common answer is that you provide a clear and defined solution to a problem that they have, whether this represents a short-term need or something that has more far-reaching consequences on their everyday life.
If you’re to successfully develop and then market a product or service-based solution, it’s imperative that you first understand the problem and the individual segments that it impacts on. This process helps you to identify the people that you’re most likely to sell to, creating one or more target markets that will boast some form of demand for your offering.
Beyond this, an in-depth knowledge of your target market also enables you to determine and refine your value proposition, and more specifically what unique selling point (USP) will distinguish your brand. This may revolve around price, specification or delivery depending on the needs of your audience, and successfully honing this can prove crucial to your longevity and appeal in the marketplace.
With an ever-growing focus on consumer behaviours, there’s another crucial advantage associated with knowing your target market.
By building a detailed profile of your consumer segments and understanding how they shop both on and offline, it’s possible to determine the marketing channels that they’re most likely to be engaged through. Depending on the depth of your data, you can even develop the entire customer journey while paying attention to the often overlooked channels and interactions that trigger assisted conversions.
Exploring Modern Day Segments and the Brands that Understand their Market
To put these ideas into context, it’s important to understand what segments exist in the modern day and how the world’s most successful brands are targeting customers.
One of the most influential segments in the current generation is affluent, young professionals, who are typically made up of Millennials in 2018. This audience boasts considerable spending power and tend to curate and access content primarily through their smartphone, while their social media activity tends to be more business-focused than is usually typical.
One brand to have successfully identified and targeted this segment is Apple, who were historically renowned primarily for consumer marketing.
In more recent times, Apple has refocused its efforts and geared these towards young professionals, refining its technology to make users more efficient. This is most evident through the brand’s iPad range and most recent smartphone releases, which have advanced specifications that are increasingly aimed at professional users.
As big data has taken hold, we’ve seen a sustained diversification of segments across the board. Nowhere is this more evident than younger consumers with limited resources, including students and those about to enter the job market (who also happen to be dominated by Millennials in the modern age).
These individuals tend to be extremely value-conscious and cash-strapped, while they are also increasingly inclined to seek out information and complete purchases either online or through their smartphone.
There are a number of businesses that have successfully understood the needs of this marketplace and targeted a motivated audience, with JetBlue offering a relevant case in point.
The go-to resource for low budget travellers who demand both value and comfort in equal measure, this brand is increasingly active through social media and focuses on delivering a quick and efficient customer service through these channels. The brand also communicates in a relaxed and conversational tone, effectively speaking the language of its core target market.
Make no mistake; JetBlue provide a clear insight into how to effectively identify and profile key consumer segments, before cultivating content and marketing campaigns that utilise the most relevant channels.
Introducing OOH – A Key Part of Targeted and Integrated Marketing Campaigns
As we can see, one of the key benefits of understanding your target market is that you can determine the channels that they’re most likely to buy through.
This can have a positive impact on your conversion rate as a brand, which is crucial if you’re to operate as a successful and ultimately generative business.
We’ve also touched on the importance of assisted conversions, which refer to the individual brand interactions that influence customers on their way to completing a purchase. OOH media is a key influencer of the typical customer journey in 2018, with consumers thought to spend in excess of 70% of their time outside of the home on a daily basis.
This means that OOH can be successfully leveraged when targeting the majority of consumer segments, so long as you take the time to understand your audience on a deeper level and target them effectively through channels such as billboards and posters.
Interestingly, the benefits of OOH extend far beyond exposure, as this medium is also thought to be increasingly effective at building brand awareness and trust in the digital age. In terms of awareness, OOH (and particularly billboards) have arguably surpassed television during the recent generation, with around 71% of all customers revealing that they regularly engage with messages on roadside ads every single day.
A further 37% report to looking at an outdoor ad every time they pass one, suggesting that frequent and sustained campaigns can turn businesses into recognisable brands over time.
From the perspective of trust, OOH also offers considerable benefits if you’ve identified the right audience. After all, influential segments like Millennials are becoming increasingly resistant to online advertising, which is saturated with promotional content and exposes customers to an estimated 5,000 messages every single day.
In contrast, OOH is seen as an earnest and nonintrusive marketing channel, and one that looks to engage customers when they open to the concept of brand interaction. This has helped to establish OOH media and billboards as trusted ad channels in the digital age, with a 2015 Nielsen study revealing that 56% of customers trust these mediums and a further 58% are compelled to take action after viewing a branded message.
Audience First – How to Plan and Target Customers with OOH
With these points in mind, it’s easy to see why OOH can be such an invaluable tool when looking to target a carefully researched customer segment. Whether you want to build your brand or effectively sell the benefits of your product or service, OOH media can deliver exceptional results with the use of accurate data.
To explore these further, let’s use billboards as an example. After all, traditional billboards remain one of the most cost-effective advertising channels in the modern age, meaning that brands can utilise them to effectively optimise their ROI without compromising on the reach of their message.
An ‘audience first’ approach is required here, as you look to build specific billboard campaigns that target clearly defined segments and consumer behaviours. It is from this crucial foundation that your campaigns can be developed, with your chosen target market influencing everything from the locations in which you advertise to the nature of your ad content.
Let’s say that your target audience is young professionals, for example. In this case, your campaign would focus heavily on trusted roadside billboards, located on major routes that connect commuter towns with large cities (this demographically typically resides on the edge of or just outside the cities in which they work).
Similarly, your message would be visually striking, concise and easy to understand, as this will more effectively capture the attention of busy professionals and create a marketing proposition that can drive almost instant engagement.
It’s also important to deploy OOH and billboard campaigns as part of a defined customer journey, and one that relates directly to your audience.
When targeting students, it would be prudent to include your brand’s social media channels as part of the ad, as this will drive higher levels of engagement among your audience. Consumers who see billboards are also around 17% more likely to engage with brands through their smartphone, so directing your audience to responsive or mobile-specific sites is also a productive move.
The Last Word
The recent shift in consumer demographics is long overdue, as it means that brands can now focus on behaviour and attitudes rather than generic and outdated stereotypes.
This is good news from businesses in the age of big data, as companies can now successfully build consumer profiles and develop a greater understanding of core target markets.
From here, brands can refine their marketing campaigns, while also leveraging the power and influence of OOH to optimise their respective ROIs.