When it comes to marketing, it’s incredibly tempting to put people in neat, yet superficial, demographic boxes.
Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y (or is it millennials?), Gen Z. The next target audience on the life-stage block – despite not being far from their mothers’ wombs – has already been defined and called Gen Alpha, Gen i and Gen D, among other names.
People – of all ages and in all markets – are constructing their own identities more freely than ever
As we begin to run out of youngsters, we can either start naming generations long before they enter the world, or put a stop to it here and now. In light of the fact that the globalising effect of digital means a twenty-something in the UK may well have more in common with a thirty-something in China than anyone of their own age in their locale, halting this obsession seems like the only option.
As the borders between countries break down, we achieve greater fluidity in our attitudes toward traditional roles relating to gender and sexuality; and, as we become increasingly age-agnostic, generational generalisations become less and less relevant. In a recent trend briefing on this subject, Trendwatching.com said: "People – of all ages and in all markets – are constructing their own identities more freely than ever.
Out with the traditional demographic
As a result, consumption patterns are no longer defined by ‘traditional’ demographic segments such as age, gender, location, income, family status and more." This is something that savvy and progressive brands are already cottoning onto and implementing in their marketing and innovation strategies.
At this year’s SXSW festival, Netflix vice president of product innovation Todd Yellin described traditional demographics as "almost useless". He continued: "Because, here’s a shocker for you, there are actually 19-year-old guys who watch Dance Moms, and there are 73-year-old women who are watching Breaking Bad and Avengers." The number of contradictions that spring out of generational research should sound a proverbial alarm.
Rather than marketing to a faceless group of consumers, bound together only by the time and place in which they were born, modern marketers should focus on targeting people based on shared interests or qualities innate to all humans, such as humour and emotion.