Strategy

Does Age Really Matter When It Comes To Branding?

By
The Desiree Team
September 13, 2023
getty images
In branding and marketing, a perennial question continues to surface: "What's your target age?" This question about a brands primary audience demographic has long been a cornerstone of marketing strategies. However we argue is branding and marketing no longer about age? It's an outlook. It’s about how the customer feels rather than how old they are.

In branding and marketing, a perennial question continues to surface: "What's your target age?" This question about a brands primary audience demographic has long been a cornerstone of marketing strategies. However we argue is branding and marketing no longer about age? It's an outlook. It’s about how the customer feels rather than how old they are.

The focus has shifted from a mere numerical age to a more profound outlook and emotional connection with the consumer.

In the past, age played a crucial role in marketing decisions. Advertisers meticulously purchased media based on assumed age brackets, hoping to connect with the right individuals. This approach was a customary tradition in marketing planning, aiming to align brands with the presumed interests of specific age groups. Yet, the landscape has shifted. Age is no longer the sole determinant of consumer behaviour. An individual's desire to stay current can span decades, as someone at 16 might share the same mindset as a person at 60.

The transition from age-focused marketing to an attitude-based approach marks a pivotal change. Brands are encouraged to cultivate a distinctive mindset that resonates with their customers, regardless of age. The crux of this shift is acknowledging that age is no longer the definitive factor in forming connections. Instead, it's about engaging individuals who share a similar attitude and perspective.

The conventional model of age-based marketing had its limitations. Guesswork often defined relevance, leaving room for uncertainty. However, the online environment has revolutionised marketing strategies. People openly share their interests, activities, and preferences through social media and other platforms. This wealth of information allows marketers to make informed decisions about their audience targeting.

A notable transformation emerges in the power of online platforms for targeting. The era of relying solely on age demographics is gradually fading, as brands discover the potential to craft meaningful connections based on shared interests, affinity groups, and geographical location. This strategic shift recognises that age-based demographics overlook influential individuals, gift buyers, and others who may not fit traditional age criteria but hold relevance.

Several factors render age demographics obsolete in the modern marketing landscape:

  1. Age Shifting. People no longer conform to traditional stereotypes associated with their age.
  2. Age Range Variation. The top and bottom ends of a demographic often share little in common.
  3. Exclusion of Key Audiences. Age demographics overlook key influencers and individuals for whom a message holds relevance.
  4. Diminished Emotional Connection. Focusing on age might detract from connecting on emotional or relevant levels.
  5. Inaccurate Data. People frequently misrepresent their age online, rendering demographic data unreliable.

In this context, what matters more than age is relevance. Discovering a 25-year-old who shares a teen mindset or a 36-year-old mother who defies traditional age categorisations can yield substantial benefits. To achieve this, marketers must recalibrate their approach. Instead of fixating on age, they should emphasise targeting methods that truly resonate, such as shared interests, affinity groups, and location.

This shift doesn't undermine the importance of tailoring messages to different segments and age ranges. However, it accentuates the significance of considering actions and interests over rigid age groupings. The brands that adopt this mentality prompt a change in media buying habits. Instead of relying on arbitrary demographic checkboxes, media outlets can align their advertising offerings with the actual behaviours and preferences of their audience.

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