Age Dictates Mindset

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All brands define their demographic by the basics – age, gender, geography, income, and many other clearly defined criteria. This is a basic marketing step. The digital world has been layering on many more detailed targeting opportunities such as alignment with other brands, interest areas, digital relationships, online actions, and a plethora of unique profile characteristics. As marketers continue to get educated in this space, it’s important to remind ourselves that time changes people. Our entire lives are spent being influenced and molded by events and environments. A 50 year old man today is much different than a 50 year old man was just five short years ago. The mindset of each individual is very unique.

Our formative years of early childhood to adolescence and even the years as young adults make us who we are today. Your product may be the same as it was five years ago and perhaps won’t change significantly in the next few. Even if your target audience will always be a 50 year old individual, your target is forever changing.

To grow up during a time of depression and to work as the “greatest generation” did or during the time of the dot com crash makes you a distinctly different individual at any specific age as compared to someone of the same age who grew up during the real estate boom in the 80’s.

One single year may change outlooks and therefore response to marketing messages. Marketers are accustomed to making changes in their campaigns as societal shifts happen. Education is an easy example. This industry has moved from quality of education to student services to safety and is currently embattled with value selling. This is all dictated by the mindset of the target which has been driven by changes in government funding to education, tragic shootings at campuses, and the proliferation of online courses.

We spent a lifetime formulating our perspectives just have each year change both our retrospect and our outlook on life. I recently saw a billboard from an investment company that stated, “The first person to live to 150 years is alive today.” Surely this person at age 45 will not have the same perspective on retirement that I have today at age 45.

Stop comparing an age to yourself. The sentence cannot be “When I was….” Let’s be candid. Your opinion doesn’t matter. It is what the target demographic thinks, feels and does today. Marketers must understand this target by speaking with them constantly.

Let’s do a simple exercise and define a few key characteristics of the popular target audience, the millennial generation.

  • They believing giving up information online if it will save them time in shopping, finding news or information, or any function.
  • They are okay delaying their careers to take greater risks for fame and fortune. They witnessed the beginning of the startup generation.
  • They will have a multitude of jobs in their entire career. They saw their parents lose jobs from major corporations after literally decades of dedicated service. They were impacted by the lack of corporate loyalty and pension cutting.
  • They’ll get married later, have children later, and live longer while possibly understanding that Social Security will not be there for them. Yet, there is a sense of everyone will take care of each other and everything will be all right. This originates from the parents who lost their jobs and while scared as hell, comforted their children.

These 30 years olds will be marketed to much differently than the 30 year olds being born today or those born 50 years ago. How are marketers shifting their brand presentation and product development to address the audience shift? How is mindset working into your marketing approach and messaging?

If we define the use of a product or service by the demographic of age or even gender every life experience would need to come into play when marketing my product. It is not a single message per a single demographic. Marketers must tailor messages, just as they must tailor services and products. This is easier if your product will appeal to a specific and narrow age group. The wider the age group, the more your marketing will require multiple campaigns executed with hyper targeting and tailored messaging.

We are no longer strictly marketing to demographics. We are marketing to life experiences of the past and lifestyles of today. We are marketing to mindsets.

Age dictates mindset – only to an extent. Be aware of the individual you are marketing to, not just the segment identified as a demographic.

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