Saturday, February 19, 2011

Creative Streak: Defining the Audience, Part 1 (Demographics, et al)

Defining the Audience, Part 1 (Demographics, et al)

There's a variety of ways - statistical data - to define a target audience. The two most common are demographics (social science data) and psychographics (lifestyle and attitudinal data). Both can be conducive to brainstorming ideas because both suggest how a specific audience might behave, what they might participate or engage with, what they are attracted to, how they choose to spend their time, either personally or professionally. More importantly, without this audience information, brainstorms are rarely effective because it's impossible to connect the ideas to the audience, and vice versa.
Demographics - Social or vial statistics about a specific audience such as age, gender, university education, family status, financial worth, income, geography (like their postal or zip code). While demographics are helpful to initially define the group, don't rely upon them solely. You also need to define the audience by how they act, which is the point of ...
Psychographics - Statistical data which defines an audience’s general attitudes, behaviors, decisions and opinions. In other words, Psychographics define ‘lifestyle choices,’ or describe how people feel or act.

In addition to demographics and psychographics, another element to consider when defining target audience are Values - deeply rooted principles or standards which are universally accepted among the target audience and explicitly guide what they believe and their attitude toward a specific topic, and ultimately how they behave.
You should absolutely spend the time, energy and money to get as mcuh accurate information as possible in advance of your brainstorm. If you work alone, or are in a team or organisation without regular access to statistical information, try one of these suggestions:
  • If your organisation produces any type of research, it's very likely they have some basic information about your key audiences.
  • If your organisation produces advertising, it's very likely the ad agency - or similar external consultant - will have this information.
  • There are a number of online tools which gather data about audiences, but check their gathering processes to ensure you're getting something valid. Or, you can use websites like to create your own surveys to gather relevant information. (Type "create web surveys" in a search engine and you'll find 10-15 different options.)
  • You can also get quality information about the target audience the old-fashioned way: talk to them. In fact, when was the last time you actually spent time talking with the audience you're trying to reach?
Here's an example of a full audience profile that we created for a wine company. We've also included two other options to define audiences: Influencers and Media Habits
Example: Bruce & Sheila: Wine Drinkers in Europe
  • Between 35-44 years-of-age
  • Equal male/female
  • Caucasian (93%)
  • Married (84%)
  • Household Incomes $65K-$150K (63%)
  • Managerial or professionals
  • Graduate degrees (39%)
  • Own residence (62%)
  • One or more child (73%)
  • ‘Aspirers’ – people who aspire to more than they have now, who see themselves as a step above the mainstream
  • Good opinion of self; seeks to improve self
  • Amiable, benevolent, self-assured, gracious, sophisticated and creative
  • Class/status conscious
  • Somewhat experimental
  • Loves going to favorite restaurants, venues, pubs
  • Active in social activities, kids’ activities
  • Enjoys eating foreign food and trying new food products
  • Enjoys entertaining at home by the BBQ
  • Believes worth paying extra for quality
  • Usually buys wine by brand name, but not above shopping by price
  • Co-workers, business associates, peers – particularly those who are climbing the corporate ladder
  • Wine enthusiasts – chefs, cooks and “foodies” (people who enjoy high-calibre food as well as the experience of eating); sommeliers, vintners, other wine drinkers
  • Public figures and celebrities, particularly those who socialise in a very public way
Media Habits
  • 48% read at least one newspaper daily, very likely to skim weekend/Sunday papers, particularly those with food and/or lifestyle sections, such as Good Weekend, Sunday, Travel
  • 34% read more than 3 magazines, particularly those which focus on food, gourmet media and lifestyle (as it relates to cooking and entertaining) (both here and abroad), such as Good Living, Donna Hay, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Bon App├ętit, Vogue, Travel & Leisure
  • 29% specifically read or search for cooking, food, wine enthusiasts online, particularly in blogs, chatrooms, website devoted to both food and wine
  • 27% watch approximately 1.5 hours of prime time each day, particularly those with lifestyle focus, home improvement/cooking, if not specific shows about cuisine
  • Accomplishment: The wine I serve says everything about me
  • Belonging and Acceptance: I want to be seen as knowledgeable, so I can impress my friends

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