By Samantha Stallard, Director of Marketing & Business Development
American demographics are rapidly changing. And, unfortunately for event marketers, those changes come with an increased difficulty in defining target audiences and advertising to them accordingly. As if that wasn't enough, the majority of consumers have changed the way they interact with brands through an increased awareness and aversion to traditional advertising. In short, brands are targeting the wrong consumers — and consumers are prepared to scroll past the advertisements that actually reach them.
Brands can't generalize their event audiences anymore by marketing to "35-45 year-old mothers" or "suburban teens" — these demographics are far too complex and diverse to be summarized so broadly. In fact, the Pew Research Center, in a report to the Population Association of America (PAA), discovered numerous demographic changes that affect modern marketing:
- The share of American adults who have never been married is at an historic high
- Mothers are now the breadwinner in 40% of US households
- Population growth is projected to slow and tilt strongly to the oldest age groups
- Millennials are on track to be the most educated generation to date
- Asians are the only major racial or ethnic group whose numbers are rising in the US
- By 2055, the US will not have a single racial or ethnic majority
Instead of honing in on an age range, ethnicity, or region to target through marketing, brands need to get even more granular through the creation of personas. Buyer personas turn a general idea of who a customer is into an accurate representation — increasing engagement, improving the customer experience, and increasing marketing effectiveness. Whether someone is in their late twenties or mid twenties doesn’t matter as much as their personal challenges, goals, communication strategy, or social media consumption.
Demographic changes have resulted in behavioral changes as well. For example, today's consumers love to shop. However, in this sense, shopping is not the same thing as buying, meaning commercial conversion rates are low, especially among Millennials. Instead, people search around for deals and consider products on their merits and peer reviews instead of trusting the marketing buzz being advertised by the brand.
Don’t live in fear of consumer feedback -- embrace and encourage it. Offer incentives for early registration or social media posts about your event, make it easy to communicate with your team online, and never delete negative responses. Instead, respond right from their comments, so other guests can see both sides of the exchange. If you stand by your event, your guests will, too.