Marketing Demographics and the Ramifications of Social Media:

Introduction to Psycho-Demographics

Marketing 101 – know your target market. Who is likely to buy your product or service? This is often answered by a definition of demographics. “Demographics are the statistical characteristics of a population … Commonly examined demographics include gender, race, age, disabilities, mobility, home ownership, employment status, and even location.” (Source:

You use demographics to define your target market segments. A segment is a set of prospects and customers with common needs, wants and preferences (solution requirements and buyer values) who reference each other when making buying decisions.

When I work with clients, I often suggest that they should evaluate their target market in groupings starting with the ideal customer and then branching out.

You want your position, message, and content to appeal to that ideal customer, but at the same time you want to attract a large enough audience to meet the required scale for business profitability. So if we use the archery target as a metaphor, how far off the center circle do you need to go to win the right number of customers while not watering down your content such that it is not compelling to the ideal customer? You need to work this out for each individual product or service.

So this is a very high level overview of target marketing and demographics and I haven’t even mentioned social media, yet. But you can not stop there, because the emergence of social media requires that we start thinking about demographics with additional perspectives. Social media is a two way, relationship marketing. You need to listen to your audience and hear what they are saying. This will give you some window into their mind to better understand perspective, their psycho-demographic. And after you listen, you respond and engage with relevance and meaning.

If you really want to be successful marketing your brand to a target audience, you need to break them down in a different way than typical demographics. A way that allows you to further understand your audience segments. I highlighted this imperative in the article “The Most Important Word for Marketing” and emphasized the importance of empathy. If we apply this mentality to demographics we begin to understand psycho-demographics.

Psycho-demographics go beyond traditional demographics. I hinted about the need to assess psycho-demographics in my article last week when discuss social media performance. But let’s discuss psycho-demographics head on.

When we socialize as a brand, we must be contextually relevant. If I am a car manufacturer of mini-vans, I know my target audience is likely females, age 28-45 with kids of the age of 0-14. (I am certain car manufacturers have more specific demographics and statistics on their buyers, but you get the picture.) But this does not mean that the entire target group is an “in-market” buyer (likely to make a car purchase in the next 90 days). At the same time, it is important to condition your audience and attract them such that when they are ready to make a buying decision, they will likely choose your brand. In the automotive example, you should have different content strategy to generate awareness versus the strategy for reinforcing the value of your car model to yield sales. A good example of awareness content is Toyota’s Swagger Wagon Video with almost 10 million views. And Chevrolet gives us a nice case of reinforcing their value in their promoted video for the Silverado.

Thus, there are different states of mind based on a number of parameters which include, but not limited to, purchase timeline. These states of mind are in fact the psycho-demographics. The social media A-Path I have defined that looks at steps in consumer-brand relationships (Attention > Attraction > Affinity > Audience > Advocates) is one way of looking at a psycho-demographic. The stages of the social media marketing funnel (Awareness > Consideration > Sale > Loyalty > Advocate) is another way. Brand perception is another psycho-demographic. How does the prospective target audience truly feel about your offering? Domino’s recently reinvented their company by taking an honest look at their perception and crafting a transparent campaign to the realities.

The point is that you need to understand your audience’s state of mind and form sub-segments of your audience. Not just on traditional demographics, but psycho-demographics as well. You need to produce contextual relevant owned media and paid media for the different segments. You need to engage in a relevant way to the different psycho-groups.

It is time for businesses to not only look at statistics and numbers (yes, they are still very important), but to start treating people as people with different states of mind, different psycho-demographics. Then market to your audience groups and engage in a relevant way.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve



Filed under brand marketing, content marketing, marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

12 responses to “Marketing Demographics and the Ramifications of Social Media:

  1. Another thought-provoking post, Steve. A couple of things come to mind – no so much in the way of disagreement – but more in the way of musicians riffing off of themes:
    1. In addition to our demographic segment, and our psycho+demographic (loved the visuals, btw) – we have the world of influencers. And I don’t just mean the Oprah-REALLY-Big influencers – but others that might play a role in influencing our customers. Breakfast cereal marketers understood that when they designed packages for kids.
    2. The other thing that comes to mind is the idea of MICRO segments. Not just sub-segments – but those really small groups that we can target in social media communications.

  2. Excellent post! The most important concept in the whole article is to make marketing contextually relevant. And Ric: you hit the nail on the head with the concepts of Micro segments! 🙂

  3. Steve,
    very informative as usual !

  4. The word “empathy” is a critical part of this. Social media allows us the connection and flexibility to react to immediate and emotional market environments with empathy and understanding to help build long term loyalty. Uncertain, but short-term, impacts on a customer’s psyche skews traditional demographic models of target marketing. An example, in today’s economy, families may be struggling with choosing between price and value. If, on the short term, a company can connect with customers on the “price” (reduced pricing, etc) without negatively impacting the “value” of the brand – a kind of “let’s get through this together” mentality – then they could actually build long-term customers that stay with them when pricing returns to normal levels. Social media allows us to get this message out in a relationship-building manner versus a cold media blast.

  5. Too many brands are using social media for quick wins. There’s not wrong with that.. but it’s not very sustainable. I think I’ll use your diagram to clearify a few things when I discuss: “What is (relevant) news?” with my colleagues.

  6. To social media-savvy employers, the employee candidate who shows what they have had published off their own blog is rather important. And then, a guest post on a Alexa 100K world ranked blog is nice; one on Ad Age or TechCrunch, Huffington Post speaks louder. Shouts, maybe…?

  7. I have a blog as well, and I think I need to improve the given information I have on the website.

    Anyways, I just wanted to go with you on your blog.

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