Whether you’re launching a product, looking to sell to new customers or just want to make sure you’re pitching what you sell to the right people, analyzing the demographics of your market is a helpful marketing technique. Once you know the demographics of your target customer, you can more effectively pursue branding, pricing, product development, advertising, promotions and distribution strategies.
Demographics are objective identifiers of consumers that include traits or characteristics such as age, sex, marital and parental status, and income and educational levels. Depending on your product or service, you might only need to know a few demographics about your customer. In other instances, the more you know, the more you can target your message to a particular segment of the marketplace.
The detailed profile of your customer gives you your target demographic, which is often a combination of more than one characteristic or trait. Don’t be confused by the terminology -- a target demographic is a term for a customer group that consists of several character demographics. For example, instead of targeting women, a salon might target affluent women between the ages of 30 and 50. A sports bar might target single people with high median incomes who are between the ages of 25 and 45. After studying local census data, a local restaurant might target young families with children. The more you narrow down your target demographic, the fewer potential customers you have, but the more you can create a brand that tells them you serve their unique needs. The trick is finding the right combination of demographics to find enough people in a group who feel you offer the best product just for them.
Knowing your marketplace demographics will help you set your prices, determine where to sell your product, what features you should add and the benefits you should emphasize. Demographics help you create strategies to improve sales by helping you satisfy demands consumers want. For example, if you have a restaurant and know that most of the population in your area is older, you might want to create a healthier, more affordable menu with fewer spicy dishes. If you operate in a tony suburb with consumer demographics that skew toward younger, high earners with college educations, you might create a more upscale brand and exotic menu with a wine list.
To determine whom you should target, start with research information provided by your industry’s trade or professional association. These groups often conduct national surveys and provide detailed information on consumer demographics, preferences, buying habits and trends in a specific industry. Use U.S. Census Bureau data for your area to determine the population characteristics of your market. The towns in your area often list population characteristics of residents at their websites. Check your website statistics to see who is visiting your website, or use free data available from Internet companies such as Quantcast and Alexa. Discuss with your salespeople who they are seeing on a regular basis, who is buying what and how much different types of customers are buying to determine if you should target a specific group.
When you target one group of consumers, you protect and enhance your brand, but lose the opportunity to sell to other groups. For example, if your main target demographic for your health club is people between the ages of 25 and 45, and you begin advertising senior aerobics classes, you might damage your brand with young hard bodies. To take advantage of health-conscious Baby Boomers’ desire for fitness programs, buy or lease a second facility, give it a new name and brand it as a Boomer gym. Offering coupons for a discount cut and blow dry at an upscale salon might cause your affluent women to seek a more exclusive salon. Consider leasing distressed space in the same mall and opening a second shop for budget hair styling.