Marketing Strategy Through the Ages: Appeal to Different Demographics


When people think about who they’re marketing to, they typically think about very distinct demographics. Cars are often marketed in a male context, whether it’s a rugged terrain vehicle or a male-oriented family car. Outside of this context, things having to do with family units are often marketed to women. Gender is only one example of a marketing demographic — a person’s location, marital status, education level and other psychological aspects can also be included in demographic marketing.


One very important aspect of marketing will always be age demographics. From about three years of age, you’ve been marketed to throughout your life, and now you’ve got to turn those tables. Look back on ads you’ve seen (either recently or throughout your life) and see if you can tell the age demographic these ads cater to.




Teens and Younger Millennials


We’ll start easy. You may have seen an ad for the recent campaign called “truth,” focusing on an antismoking message. Here is just one of their various TV and Internet spot ads that discuss facts and antismoking rhetoric. View this ad and see if you can guess the age demographic they were looking to market to.


From the hashtags to the inserted Internet humor, this is very visually appealing to a younger teen audience. Based on the campaign’s goal (to end teen smoking in America), this is exactly the age group they want to view their commercials.


It’s an extreme example, to the point that the campaign has actually received criticism for laying it on too thick. Watering it down, it’s common to try and market to younger audiences and millennials with relevant humor and references that appeal to their sensibilities. This shows that you’re aware of their thought process and what they like, identifying with an age group that craves to be connected.

Older Millennials and the 30+ Crowd


Now you’re moving up to another age group. This category of market audiences is a little older and a little more mature in knowing what they need. Things mellow out — while older millennials and 30-somethings like to party too, you’re more likely to attract this audience when you appeal to their sense of responsibility and what they need, not what they want.


A lot of commercials about “real life things,” like cars and mortgages, are starting to feature younger and younger parents. This advertising trend is half about moving away from showing companies as too old-focused, but also because they know there are 25-year-olds out of college, starting families and looking for that perfect car to put their baby to sleep in.


You’ll also notice a move away from flashy visuals and abstract messaging. There’s no real sense of anything being subliminal in these ads — everything is clearly spelled out because this is an age group that’s experiencing reality in full force.


Older Generations


This is a very broad age category because once someone hits their mid-40s, it’s like advertisers stop caring. Why don’t more beer, restaurant and car commercials target this large age group? Because it’s assumed that once you hit a certain age, you don’t need to be advertised to anymore. You know what you want and you probably aren’t going to change your mind about it because a commercial said so.


Depressingly enough, you’ll likely see this demographic targeted when it comes to more complicated lifestyle discussions, like mortgage refinancing or assisted living devices. Again, the gap in age here is huge — but this is a demographic that’s not specifically catered to unless there’s a very specific product made for their needs.


It’s important to note that an older audience is more likely to be receptive to traditional media over digital formats. If you want to appeal more to older demographics, look for formats that they’re more comfortable with, but don’t be afraid to explore some digital options as well. Even older generations are becoming more tech savvy.


Looking for more ways to improve your marketing strategy? Age is an important factor to keep in mind, but so are the emotions you use in your marketing campaigns



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