Demographics are Dead – How it works now

Consumption patterns are no longer defined by ‘traditional’ demographic segments such as age, gender, location, income, and family status.

Social networks are for young people… nope, they are enthusiastically used by all demographics. Twitter’s fastest growing demographic between 2012 and 2013 was the 55-64 year age bracket, growing 79%. (Buffer, 2013)

Computer games are for teenage boys and men who still haven’t grown up… nope. In the UK, women now account for the majority of video game players, and there are more gamers aged over 44 than under 18. (Internet Advertising Bureau, 2014)

There is totally different music tastes between oldies and modern teens… wrong again. If you look at the list of the 1,000 favourite artists for 60-year-olds and the 1,000 favourite artists for 13-year-olds, there is a 35% overlap. (Music Machinery, 2014)

Yes, younger, affluent consumers are still (usually) the earliest adopters of new products and services. They are more open, more experimental and have fewer commitments. But now, compelling innovations are rapidly adopted by alldemographics.

This is a summary of a trendwatching article. Please check out the in-depth original here

Consumers can (and increasingly do) pick and choose what products and services they purchase and the brands they identify with, without any regard to demographic ‘conventions’.

Why are demographics dead?

1. Access

Consumers of all demographics and in all markets buy products and services from the same mega-brands: Apple, Facebook, Amazon (the technology sector is especially universal), McDonald’s, Nike and more.



2. Ability
There is a drive to personalise all products and experiences. Not just by demographic, but by each individual.



3. Permission
There has is a movement past social conventions, where traditional family structures and gender roles have collapsed. Gender stereotypes are dead.



Status symbols have changed. ‘Old’ status symbols (material goods like cars) need money to obtain, and were often found in those with higher spending power. However, ‘new’ status symbols (experiences, authenticity, connection, health, ethical and sustainable lifestyles…) are open to all, regardless of age, income or location.



What should you do?

Embrace the new normal

Embrace and celebrate new racial, social and cultural norms. For example, In February 2013, Korean Air held a beauty and personal grooming workshop for male staff. During the three-hour event, a team of image and makeup consultants instructed male ground staff on personal grooming, skincare and basic makeup techniques.

Re-examine your brand heritage – luxury automaker looks to video games

August 2014 saw Rolls-Royce make its debut in racing videogames. The game Forza Motorsport includes a copy of Rolls-Royce car. It replicates the original vehicle perfectly, down to the retractable hood ornament.

High end auctioneers embrace eBay

July 2014 saw high-end auction house Sotheby’s partner with eBay. The international auctioneer streams live auctions from its New York HQ, and bids can be placed on eBay real-time online.

Combine traditional demographics

Technology is bridging (if not totally eliminating) the generational gap. In May 2014 the CNA language school launched the Speaking Exchange where young Brazilian English students were paired with elderly Americans. Students and teachers could chat via webcam, on a range of subjects as suggested by the course. Each conversation was recorded and automatically stored on a private YouTube channel, allowing CNA’s teachers to evaluate students’ development.

Focus on the smaller remaining niches of interest rather than circumstance

Post work out low carb beer

Lean Machine Ale is a low-calorie, post-workout beer from Canada launched in November 2013. It’s gluten-free, made from natural ingredients and vitamin-enriched, the 5% ABV light ale is designed to aid muscle recovery, boost the immune system and rehydrate the body.

Russian bank offers new-mortgage customers a cat to loan

In August 2014 Sberbank (one of Russia’s largest banks) offered to loan a cat to new mortgage clients. In Russia, cats are considered a good luck charm when moving into a new home; home-owners were encouraged to take photos of the cat in its ‘new’ home and share via social media. The promotion was a publicity stunt, but one that targets a very specific demographic interest

Demographics are dead…

Successful products, services and brands will transcend their initial demographics almost instantaneously. Businesses who continue to navigate using demographic maps, with borders defined by age, gender, location, income will be ill-prepared for the speed, scale and direction of change.

Powerful Companies Build Powerful & Passionate Visions – Here’s How

A robust vision will give you hope and save you time, stress and money.

I suggest to you, “let’s go for a walk.” You decide it’s a great idea and stop what you’re doing. You get up and we head outside. Before we get started on the walk, take a moment. Close your eyes and actually imagine it.

Where are you? What are you looking at? Is it windy? A little cold? Or warm and refreshing? What sounds can you hear?

I then tell you, “go and buy the map, food, supplies and pack your clothes.” You look confused. Rightly so. You can’t do that yet. You don’t know WHY you need to buy it and WHAT it’s for. You first need to understanding where you are going.

Everyone can visualise going on a walk, however, we all visualise walking to different places, in different ways, in different conditions. For your team it’s impossible for them to walk together without the common goal. They walk off one way seeing something exciting and then you have to run after them and put them back on course. But, to be honest even you aren’t totally sure where you are going.

A powerful vision statement is the means to empower each staff member with direction. They can then work together to make a plan and the whole team can start running at a steady pace until they get there.


There Is A Better Way

Visions normally fit into one of two camps. They seem too hard to write or they are not meaningful enough to provide meaningful direction. The challenge is to clarify the vision and take the time to write it down, ensuring that it connects with readers in a meaningful way.

Jim Collins scientifically studied company success with an amazing group of researches. They found a great vision has three components:

  1. What you are passionate about?
  2. What you can be the best at?
  3. What is your drives your profit?

Your vision (or biggest company goal) is the intersection between your passion, your brand promise and what drives your profit

What Are You Fanatically Passionate About?

If you really don’t believe in what you’re doing then when the going get’s tough you’ll give up. I know providing for your family or keeping up with your friends can be pretty motivating, but we are looking for something deeper. A higher cause you and your team believe in.

Start by writing a list of what you would be proud of your company achieving. What you would love to read about yourselves in the newspaper. Then ask yourself why you would be proud of that?

Sony back in 1954 “The sheer joy of innovation and the application of technology for the benefit and pleasure of the general public” – this was before they even produced their first radio.

Why is knowing your passion so important? It allows you to draw on your strengths and higher purpose.

Why Are You The Best? – Your Brand Promise

We are in business and it’s a competitive market out there. What can your brand promise your customer that another competitor can’t? And equally important what can’t it promise?

  • McDonalds brand promises that they can deliver a clean, quick burger, at low prices that tastes pretty much the same anywhere in the world.
  • Apple’s brand promises to provide the latest in style and lifestyle design.
  • Google’s brand promises to find the information you are looking for quicker than anyone else.
    What sets you apart?

What Drives Your Profit?

Awesome, now you know your passion, and you can the best at something. Things are looking up. The last empowering question is “how can you drive profit in one KPI?”

I’m not talking about straight $ profit, but $ per something. Profit per customer, profit per visit, profit per risk level. If you could pick one and only one ratio-profit per x to systematically increase over time, what x would have the greatest and most sustainable impact on long term profit?

This is the measure you stress in all meetings and have your managers constantly focus on.

For example, in the book Good to Great Jim Collins explains the American convenience store Walgreens switched their focus from profit per store to profit per customer visit. Renting convenient locations is expensive, but by increasing profit per customer visit, Walgreens increased the number of stores it had to (nine stores every 2km) and simultaneously increased profitability.


Write The Big Hairy Audacious Goal

Your vision is your Big Hairy Audacious Goal. It’s your aspirational goal in one short statement. Here are some rules for writing powerful vision statements:

  1. Make it represent the overlap between your passion, brand promise, and profit measure
  2. Make it time bound. Will you actually get there? The time periods depends on the size of your company. For a start-up set it at 2 years. For a medium sized business- 5 years. For a large organisation – 20 years.
  3. It cannot include the word “And.” If you have, it means you have two directions. Pick one.
  4. Remove all vague words like: manage, appropriate, efficient, effective
  5. Ask yourself: “Could a dry cleaning business have the same vision?” In other words, is this really tailored to our business?
  6. Make sure it gets you a bit excited. You will want to tell this to your friends and family
  7. Are you willing to put significant effort to reach this vision?
  8. Can you really deliver it? It should stretch you, but still be possible?

Sony in 1954 – Vision (BHAG):

“Become the company most known for changing the worldwide image of Japanese products as being of poor quality”

Did they make their vision a reality? Will you make yours a reality?