The days of one-size-fits-all-marketing to reach millennials is over.

Demographics Post

According to Hotwire PR’s seventh annual ‘Communications Trends Report,’ in 2016 marketing and communications professionals will stop targeting millennials as one demographic and focus on reaching the younger consumers based on their passions and interests – or – psychographics. In other words, in order to better connect with an audience, marketers will need to implement age-agnostic strategies.

But why? Using the words of Seth Godin, marketers need to understand that everyone is not your audience. The millennial cohort, or those born in the early 1980s to 2000s, is incredibly diverse and comprised of individuals with varying interests, passions, and lifestyles. Gone are the days of mass-marketing strategies. Consumers today are much more diverse and fragmented.

Speaking from experience, as a twenty-three year old female falling smack in the middle of the millennial cohort, what would appeal to me may not appeal to my cohort peers who are in the their teenage years or early thirties. By relying solely on demographics to reach millennials, marketers are essentially throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.

What I mean to say is, demographics are limiting.

To demonstrate the limitations of demographic targeting I will perform a high-level analysis of the brand Lululemon Athletica, which is popular with the millennial cohort, using Affinio, the audience intelligence platform.

Using the Affinio platform we analyzed Lululemon’s Twitter following (@Lululemon) and segmented the audience into eight segments or tribes. After a quick analysis of the tribes, we chose two tribes that fit reasonably within our sample demographic profile:

Sample Demographic Profile

  • Age: 23-34
  • Sex: Female
  • Race/Ethnicity: Caucasian
  • Location: New York
  • Language: English

The tribe members were predominantly female, likely fell into the 18-32 age bracket based on their content interests and influencers, are located in New York and other large cities, and speak English. However, without understanding the interests and passions of these audiences we are missing key cultural insights and consumer values.

To demonstrate, let’s take a look at the keywords both tribes use to self describe, their top social conversation topics, and the domains in which they consume content from – all pulled from the Affinio platform.

Tribe #1

Terms tribe #1 members use to describe themselves:


Top used hashtags by tribe #1 members:


Top domains of tribe #1 members:


Tribe #2

Terms tribe #2 members use to describe themselves:


Top used hashtags by tribe #2 members:


Top domains of tribe #2 members:



As we can see, psychographics provide much more useful information about users than demographics. Based on our sample demographic profile, both of our psychographic profiles above would have been considered identical and targeted the same way. However, the two tribes based on how they self-describe, their social conversation topics, and preferred domains are not clearly not identical. To break this down further, we can infer that the brand appeals to our first tribe primarily because of its functionality and fit with their yoga-centred lifestyle. Our second tribe uses Lululemon gear primarily because of its fashion and trendiness. The use case for these two tribes is completely different, so why market to these groups in the same way?

Using psychographics to guide your strategy is critical for connecting to consumers on an emotional level. Consumers expect more from brands today and they want to see content that is relevant to them. There is nothing worse than being served ads with no relevance (am I right?!). You wouldn’t serve high-fashion content to a yoga instructor looking for functional active wear. By having a deep understanding of your audience, marketers can create meaningful content that consumers will actually want to welcome and not refute.

How do I find my audience interests?

With technologies like Affinio, it is now possible to identify psychographic information that before was not easily acquired. We leverage the social graph to understand not only the demographics of an audience but more importantly their interests and passions, how and where they consume content, and what content resonates with them. Our job is to redefine the way you research, plan, and execute marketing strategies.

As consumers continue to diversify, brands will need to better understand their audiences’ and build content and strategies that relate to them or risk losing their loyalty in 2016. Remember, the best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.

Originally posted on the Affinio blog, “Goodbye, Demographics! Why Age-agnostic Marketing is the Future” – request a demo.