A Different Way to Think about Demographics and Storytelling

By the Editors

Today we’d like to take a closer look at some of the challenges of demographic analysis. Demographics are a big part of the research process. They help us later when we go into bucket our respondents by “types.” They also become the points of comparison later, when we’re looking for contrasts. “Men said X, while women said Y” or “We noted a difference in respondents over and under the age of 40.” Yet if we fail to appreciate what underlies certain demographic traits, we can miss a key part of the story.

Analyzing Individual Factors

Let’s take income for example. That’s a factor that’s commonly measured. It’s helpful to know that our ideal customer makes over $75,000. But at another level, this tells the researcher important facts about how to position the product. Does your $75,000 and above customer buy your item because it’s a luxury, or because it’s a high-quality necessity where they’re willing and able to pay more? And why does someone under that price point not engage? It could be related to the fact that it’s simply not in their budget, or perhaps your efforts at building brand recognition haven’t reached into their demographic effectively.

Combining Factors Into Segments

Some of the most effective analyses will combine multiple factors into individual customer segments. What you’re essentially saying is “when this cluster of traits occur together, you’re likely to get a customer like X.” Sometimes these segments are personified by a name or by a few terms that describe the segment. For example, if you were classifying different kinds of couples that attend therapy you might refer to the “Seekers,” “Marriage in Trouble,” “Considering remediation,” “Dealing with divorce,” and “Learning to commuicate.”

By combining specific demographic factors, you’re able to start to identify the “profile” of a person that belongs to a specific segment. For example, it might be someone over the age of 30 who is married with children, makes less than $50,000 per year, and travels once every two years. Each individual factor tells you something important, but together, a more detailed picture starts to emerge.

Blend Demographics with Buying Behaviors

When you’re able to tie these demographic pictures to buying behaviors and underlying motivations, your buyer personas and segmentations become that much more powerful. It’s possible to develop a strong sense of who’s behind the dollars flowing into your company and how best to reach them. A turn of phrase, a choice of image, an overall positioning for a marketing campaign – they’re all directly tied to your understanding of your segments. As marketers, this knowledge makes us more effective and successful with every step we’re able to take.

If you’ve conducted market research in the past or are in the research phase now, take the time to compile your results and look at your demographic information more holistically. Work to find the connections between the individual data points, and to connect these issues to your other data (top products, buying habits, retail cycles, etc.). It’s well worth the investment of time.

Are you ready to launch a mobile market research initiative to get to know your respondents better?