A thorough knowledge of consumer behaviors and buying patterns is essential to any new business or new product launch. Consumer behaviors are constantly shifting, based on the economy, expendable income levels, emotions and seasonality.
Demographics hold the key to understanding consumer behavior and creating a target market. Commonly used demographics include sex, race, age, income, disabilities, mobility (travel time to work or number of vehicles available), educational attainment, home ownership, employment status, and even location. Some of the factors to consider when reviewing demographics include:
- Age groups: Consumers of different age groups have different needs and wants. Members of a generation tend to share the same outlook, values, and priorities. When these characteristics are combined for purposes of market segmentation and targeting, such an approach is called generational marketing. The 13- to 18 year old age group, for example, spends over 200 billion dollars (both through purchases made by them and purchases made for them) per year in the U.S. alone. Much of this money goes toward “feel-good” products: music, video games, cosmetics, and fast food.
- Gender: Many products, from fragrances to fashion apparel and accessories, specifically appeal to men or women. Segmenting by gender starts at a very early age—even diapers come in pink for girls and blue for boys.
- Income and Social Class: The distribution of wealth is of great interest to marketers because it determines which groups have the greatest buying power. In many cases, however, consumers buy according to the place in society to which they aspire. For example. luxury car manufacturers such as Mercedes, BMW, and Audi have developed versions of cars that are priced at less than half the price they charge for one of their traditional models to appeal to those who aspire to own a luxury car.
- Ethnicity: A consumer’s national origin is often a strong indicator of his or her preferences for specific magazines or TV shows, foods, apparel, and leisure activities.
- Geography: Recognizing that people’s preferences often vary depending on where they live, many marketers tailor their offerings to specific geographic areas and climates.