What Is Demographic Segmentation, & How Do You Do It?

One of the greatest music videos ever made (according to MTV) was released in 1990 and won Best Choreography and the hearts of fans and parodists alike: “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer. That rap video (and those harem pants) made for an echo that can be felt in pop culture today. But why am I talking about it on HubSpot’s marketing blog?

In 2020, Cheetos bought a Super Bowl commercial to promote their brand, and they knew it needed to resonate with as much of their target market as possible, which was most likely Gen Xer and older millennials.

Before you dive into this post, take a look at the following video:

If you’ve laughed at the absurd idea that MC Hammer was making up the lyrics for “U Can’t Touch This” while his Cheetos were preventing him from touching the keyboard, this commercial is for you. But if you have no idea what I’m talking about then you are not part of the audience that Cheetos was targeting with the ad.

If their target market had been young children or older adults, they probably wouldn’t have gone in that direction. Fortunately, they had a powerful tool: demographic segmentation.

What is demographic segmentation?

Demographic segmentation divides your target market into specific, accessible groups of people based on personal characteristics such as geography, age, education, occupation and income. By taking advantage of demographic segmentation, you can create personalized marketing campaigns for each part of your target market.

Demographic segmentation can also optimize your resources and time, as distributing personalized marketing messages to any part of your target market will appeal to more people and result in more conversions than sending a generic message to your entire target market.

Why is demographic segmentation important?

Demographic segmentation allows you to provide a more personalized experience with messages that better appeal to your target audience.

In fact, you can be more specific with pop culture references and slang to evoke a particular emotion. You are also better equipped to compose the subject of your messages as the wants, needs, fears and pains can vary from segment to segment.

It depends on this idea:

If you are talking to everyone, you are not talking to anyone.
– Meredith Hill

According to Accenture, “91% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that recognize, remember, and deliver relevant offers and recommendations.” In other words, if a prospect sees themselves in your messages (because they are tailored to them), they’ll be more likely to respond positively.

This doesn’t just apply to ads. In fact, MailChimp found that opening and click rates increased when using segmentation in email marketing.

However, it is important to be extremely aware of how you are using demographic segmentation in your marketing. After all, you don’t want:

  • Make wrong assumptions about a particular segment
  • Alienate current or potential customers
  • Go too far from your brand voice
  • Do not monitor trends that occur with other segments

To see how most brands segment their target market, check out some examples of demographic segmentation factors that can be used:

Examples of demographic segmentation

1. Geography

Geographic segmentation divides your target market based on its geographic location. Since people in different regions have different needs and interests, e.g. For example, the need for cold weather outerwear in Minnesota or the demand for swimwear in South Florida in winter, it’s important to understand exactly how the different climates, landscapes, and urban landscapes of your target market affect their preferences.

2. Age

Age segmentation divides your target market into specific age groups or generations such as Generation Z, Millennials and Baby Boomers. The people in each of these groups grew up at the same time, had similar experiences today, and shared similar traits, habits, and opinions. Hence, it is important to distribute personalized campaigns for each generation.

For example, if you target Gen Xer with a nostalgic ad about The Princess Bride it might get high praise, but if you target Gen Zers with the same ad it might not even get a mention on Twitter.

3. Education

Education segmentation divides your target market by school, field of study, and degree. Many brands target education because most people have a deep sense of loyalty to their alma mater.

In fact, BuzzFeed uses education segmentation to write articles about a particular college’s tidbits that only their alumni would know about. And by writing these types of articles about almost every college in the United States, they can relate to the majority of the people who have attended college in the country.

4. Profession

Job segmentation divides your target market into job function, seniority, and job title. Many B2B brands target their audience by profession as they need to attract certain types of professionals who are empowered to make buying decisions within their team or company.

5. Income

Income segmentation divides your target market into income areas. When you know how much discretion your prospects have, you can market to the people who can actually afford your product or service, set your prices based on their income, and set price tiers for each part of your target market.

Get personal

These days, generic marketing campaigns no longer fly with consumers. If you can’t relate to every segment of your target market, then you can stop all of your campaigns too.

However, if you can take advantage of demographic segmentation, you can create personalized marketing campaigns for each part of your target market and target them just as MC Hammer did with Cheetos’ target market.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2019 and has been updated for completeness.

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