Find out why Mark Ritson believes demographics are horsesh*t, and why behavioural science dictates that communities have the most influence over buying behaviour.
Marketing strategies used to be all about the individual – we thought that people who looked the same, acted the same. And we marketed to them in the same way, exactly like our competitors.
In fact, today’s most successful brands – like Huel, Gymshark and Airbnb – focus on their communities.
Our communities are the single biggest influence on consumer buying behaviour
Why? Because we’re herd animals. We’re influenced via social learning from people we know or trust – only 8% of the population buys without recommendation.
Communities are streets, towns and cities where word-of-mouth has tipped the scale and is the primary influence in sales. They are the real-world locations where you have brand awareness that’s driving growth.
Our online communities are not a true reflection of our real communities. And similarly, online sentiment is not always indicative of business success (you only have to compare Ryanair’s socials with their financials).
“Eight out of 10 millennials know demographics are horsesh*t.”
So says Mark Ritson.
We need to stop believing that whole swathes of the population behave in the same way, just because they “look the same” (ie they happen to have been born in the same decade).
There are 15 million millennials in the UK. Do we really believe that these people all share the same traits, lifestyles and preferences?
Growth strategies have changed
The problem with marketing to individuals is that marketers end up fishing in the same pool as their competitors.
The answer lies in your brand’s communities – and using brand-specific data rather than category-specific data. These are the people who have the most influence over each other, and who will spread your brand’s message. But they’re not online… They exist in the real world.
Real-world communities are super-powerful at message transmission. Messages pass through a community and not just through your customers. Take this scenario – a grandmother might tell someone about a special baby food brand, because her granddaughter uses it.
There are two problems with this
Traditionally we market to demographics that we think align with our brand or product, rather than our communities. Those demographics are exactly the same as our competitors’ – and that grandmother wouldn’t be anywhere near the target audience. Secondly, as humans, we forget – we need to see or hear a message seven times before we remember.
Communities are not new…
They’re how we knew where not to pick the poisonous berries back in the caveman days. But now we can detect them, harness them and amplify them to boost growth and revenue.