Know Your Demographic, Make It Relatable

3 min read • Dec 20, 2012 • Lendio

Recently I reached a milestone that I’m not proud of. For the first time in my adult life, I was really sick. Of course I get colds 3-4 times a year, especially now that I have school-aged children. But usually they last 2-3 days before I start to feel better and I can go back to my normal routine. Last month however I got slammed with a persistent cold for TWO WEEKS! It was miserable, and when I finally did start to recover, it was still another week of coughing and slow going until I got my energy back. I HATE being sick.

The one assumption I’m comfortable making about the varied readers of this blog is that everyone has been sick in their life. Even if you haven’t been sick for a long time, you can at least relate on some level. It shouldn’t be too hard to remember a time when your nose got red from frequent blowing or a persistent cough made your chest hurt. By remembering a time when you were unhappy with illness,  you can relate to my recent misery.

If I’m selling cold medicine, I can be reasonably certain my message will resonate with a large majority of those who see it. Granted some viewers may not like the commercial, but at least I can try to gain their empathy with the imagery that I use. More importantly,  if I communicate my message effectively, they may be willing to consider my product the next time they feel ill.

Zicam Cold Medicine Commercial

Marketing to a more specific demographic, such as retirees, outdoor enthusiasts or parents,  poses increasing difficulties. Not only do you have to find an effective channel to reach your audience, but you have to do it in a way that engages your segment without alienating the rest of the market which may have influence over your customers.

Dr. Pepper attempted an incredibly bold campaign last year where they unequivocally targeted men.  Unfortunately, not only did they fail to engage the male audience they were selling to, they offended a significant portion of their female customers. In our society where 69% of the time, women are the primary grocery shoppers, causing a fall out with such a large segment can have a detrimental effect on company’s bottom line.

Dr. Pepper TEN Commercial

A few months after the campaign launched, market research found that:

For men, Dr. Pepper’s buzz score went from 21. 5 on the day the campaign broke to 16.4, clearly losing a bit of altitude for the intended gender.

However, for women in the same period, the score started at a higher point – 32.9 – and has now sunk to 18.4, losing nearly half its score.

Obviously, the manner in which they specifically targeted men failed to resonate and most likely proved to be a costly miscalculation.

My final example comes from Huggies brand diapers which also took a chance on non-traditional approach to marketing to men; fathers to be specific. Their first attempt out of the gate was a fail because people felt it sent a message that men were incompetent caregivers, and thus they needed a diaper that could hold up to long periods between changes.

Huggies listened to the consumer feedback and tweaked their message so it was understood that it was the diapers that were being put to a competency test, and not the men.

Huggies Diaper Commercial

In conclusion, I’ll leave you with 5 thoughts when considering your next advertising campaign:

  • Keep it simple
  • Make it relatable
  • Remember the human element
  • Include a call to action
  • Respond and adapt to feedback

Has any advertising resonated with you recently? Did it improve or tarnish your opinion of the company?



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