• Is it time to give up on traditional demographics?

    Organisations have been dividing the population into serviceable sectors for decades in order to ensure their communication strategies are as effective as possible. 

    However, while standard practice sees people segmented by demographics such as age, sex and location, is this strategy inherently limited? If so, a shift away from these trends could have a significant effect on the way businesses manage their corporate affairs

    Google recently investigated the way the general public respond to communications that are crafted according to traditional demographics and what organisations could change to target audiences more effectively. 

    Traditional demographics limit engagement 

    While Google's investigation prioritises trends on mobile platforms, the lessons have the potential to affect they way organisations approach other channels as well. According to Google, businesses that base their communication strategies solely on standard demographics risk ignoring more than two-thirds of their potential audience.

    Google believes this is because, while demographics do shed some insight into the composition of an audience, they assume all people within these groups are the same and fail to consider their intentions as individuals. 

    Put simply, Google's research reveals that an individual's intent is often more valuable than how they fit into a predetermined demographic – what they want can be more valuable to businesses than who they are. The organisation noted there a number of key steps businesses should follow to ensure their communications are easily digested. 

    The high-speed nature of digital communication means the public favours immediacy. While this can be a challenging condition for businesses to manage in the midst of a reputational risk management crisis, people engage with messages that are there when they need them most. 

    Does this reflect wider communication trends?

    Google's investigation reflects the communications trends Hotwire PR believes will have a significant influence throughout 2016. The organisation reported the changing nature of demographics as the "Death of the Millennials", confirming the idea that age is not enough to accurately shape a target audience. 

    Hotwire PR also expanded on Google's idea that audience intent will define the way organisations target their communications, suggesting the public's motivations, passions and lifestyle will be just as important. 

    According to Accenture, audiences on digital platforms are becoming notably less receptive to broad communications, as many people favour these channels for their ability to offer personalised content. The more businesses can localise their messaging and limit the perception that they are targeting communication on wider demographics, the more likely they are to engage with the public. 

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