Let's start with the fact that I AM a woman. But here's what has led me to my marketing gender confusion:
- I own five lonely pairs of shoes. Four pairs for mostly practical reasons and one pair of runners.
- I really, truly, deeply don't like the term 'soccer mom.' I don't know why, but I'm sure it can't only be because I detest soccer.
- I set up my home entertainment system.
- I know who 'Gravedigger' and the '12th man' are.
- What is a pumice stone for?!
I don't say this to start an argument about stereotypes, or to take on the many women who proudly wear the 'soccer mom' label. I simply make the point that dividing individuals by age, income, occupation and gender is not the only way to determine who to target with your next campaign. I see plenty of shiny-happy-family faces in ads and posters, so I know this still happens.
If you have a new product that you think women 40+ will love, or teens 17 to 25 will flock to, terrific. Next, talk to those groups and see if they really need or want that product. If so, fantastic!
But you're not done.
Talk to those same groups and find out how they live their lives. This may sounds like an impossibly huge task, but it isn't. You'd be surprised what a simple five-question website poll will uncover. Or what key learning can be had by having your front-line staff ask a couple of questions. I always have time to chat while I'm doing my banking, and if the member services representative asked me to help out with a two-question poll of the day, I'd love to.
An alternate approach to segmentation
An interesting alternative to standard demographics is the Filene Research Institute's Why Choose a Credit Union? An Ethnographic Study of Member Behaviours, published in 2007. It looks at people from a financial needs perspective instead of the traditional age, gender and income categories. It would be great if Filene continued the research, expanding beyond the 40 credit union member sample size. I myself am 'learning and growing.' There is a fee for non-Filene members to purchase this report.
For real simplicity, try googling 'psychographics.' Psychographics is the use of demographics to study and measure attitudes, values, lifestyles and opinions. For example, you can learn the ins and outs of appealing to non-aggressive conformists (sheep).
But the best advice is talk to your members. They're real people with specific wants and needs. They are the best research candidates you could invest in. They'll answer you, I swear on it. Especially if you share with them what a pumice stone is for.