Are traditional demographics still the best selling
strategy for the future?
makes sense to broaden traditional broadcast demographic thinking
and start thinking about programming and advertising that appeals
directly to listeners at their various life stages instead of how
many years they've actually lived life.
heard, "25-54? That's not a demographic, that's a family
reunion!" And it's true.
18-24, 35-54, 55+ In the United States we've thought in
terms of targeted demographics for so long now and yet, somehow
targeted demographics don't seem to be as effective a way to portion
out our audiences as they have in the past.
our American culture is changing. I work all over the world with
hugely successful radio stations. One secret to successful stations,
they cross demographic lines. Key elements include truth, humor,
new information and entertaining personalities that relate to
the listener. We may find a huge payoff by redefining what traditional
demographics really are.
Couple of Thoughts:
Whether we're discussing poker or life insurance, the target market approach no longer always applies.
55 years old today is NOT what 55 years old has been in the past.
People are living longer, larger and healthier lives with a whole
lot more income to spend on leisure, travel, health concerns,
clothing, cars, housing, top-of- the-line new gadgets, appliances
It may be time to re-think traditional demographics and look instead
at "life stages" of the listeners.
44 year old single female may be living the same lifestyle as
a 23-year-old single working woman (both comfortable with "Sex
in the City.") While a 43-year-old mother of three may have
a nearly identical lifestyle to a 21-year-old with a couple of
"real" chronological age of the listener doesn't really
matter as much as the "lifestyle" of the listener.
lifestyle for a 51-year-old single guy who spends on good clothing,
the flashy car, restaurant meals, front row center seats at
the basketball game, etc. (whose listening habits might include
rock, talk, sports, or personality radio maybe Phil Hendrie,
Howard Stern, Mancow or Imus) may be identical to the lifestyle
of a 26-year-old single career or working guy, who spends his
time and money in roughly the same ways.
are as many kinds of kids, teenagers and young people as there
are PEOPLE. This group gets divided into those on an academic
fast track ("I want to be a doctor...so I study ALL THE TIME,"
"I want to play pro-ball, I'm at practice 24/7," to
"I have no idea what I want to do with my life, these are
my teen years and I want to hang out with my friends at the mall
and have a good time NOW, I'll figure it all out later when I
really have to.") We all know "perennial kids."
This "KIDS" "12-18 "life stage" can go
up to 35 years old or beyond! Although this person may be in school
or college or even still living at home, he/she is making important
independent spending decisions.
have no idea what I want to do with my life..." At this stage,
he/she is still figuring out what to do, who to be and how to
live, etc. This person may have a temporary job, dead end job
or entry level job at a business he/she is trying on for size.
what you want to do and putting in a lot of time to make it work.
YOU BUY A HOUSE
live a hugely different lifestyle than homeowners. People who
live alone live a hugely different lifestyle than couples do.
YOU BUY A HOUSE
lifestyle here changes hugely. You watch those home fix-it shows.
You hang out at Home Depot and the hardware store. You spend big-ticket
money on things for the house. You stay home more; Go out less
SINGLE, THE LONER LIFESTYLE
it on YOU, not the house.
AS A COUPLE, COMMITTED RELATIONSHIP (OR MARRIAGE)
people have very different lives than people who are single.
Run the range of every age. At a recent "Mommy-and-Me swimming
class, the "mommies ranged in age from 17 to 51, with absolutely
is pivotal. People without kids lived a very similar lifestyle
to one-another at EVERY age!
in good health enjoy sports, take trips, and partake of the culture.
IN ILL HEALTH
can hit at ANY life stage and again, someone who's 18 or 32 may
have an identical two to three year (or longer) lifestyle as someone
who's 55 or 85 during a prolonged illness or injury.
already seen this with religious radio, sports radio, Antiques
Roadshow, Food Channel, computer enthusiasts, Wall Street players,
pet owners etc. People who have passions in life for specific
areas of interest cross over every demographic to hang out with
one another. Special Interest Groups are a demographic, NO MATTER
WHAT THEIR AGES!
EDUCATION PLAY A HUGE ROLE
also been fooled defining listeners by race or "income levels."
It's much more defined by education and "class" than
income. Take a lesson from NPR: A listener may be dirt poor, but
educated, the guy in the next car over may be a billionaire listening
to the SAME station.
upper class or middle class African American or Asian has similar
concerns to the upper or middle class Anglo Saxon. Programmers
worry too much about "targeting" a racial demographic
rather than a life stage or lifestyle one.
subset of yet another life stage includes people with less (or
no) education or with fewer opportunities in the working world
who comprise their own demographic regardless of age or race.
Geller Media International. Excerpted
from CREATING POWERFUL RADIO: GETTING, KEEPING & GROWING AUDIENCES
from Focal Press, By Valerie Geller. If
you would like more information on Geller Media International, or
the Creating Powerful Radio Workshops, please visit us on the Web
at GellerMedia.com or CreatingPowerfulRadio.com or call the New
York offices at 212-580-3385.