What Is Behavioral Segmentation and How Do You Use It?
Here's a beginner's guide to behavioral segmentation and how you can use it to increase your sales.
In a previous blog, we discussed the importance of segmentation when it comes to understanding and catering to your target audience. Specifically, we looked at geographic segmentation, which refers to grouping audience members based on location (such as where they live, shop, and work).
But geographic segmentation is just one of several powerful targeting strategies that help marketers serve individual customers more effectively. In this blog, we’ll explore demographic segmentation, or breaking an audience into smaller groups based on demographic factors (think: age, gender, income, etc.)
Keep reading to learn about the different types of demographic segmentation and how to use these data points to more directly connect with your ideal customers.
Different age groups have distinct purchasing habits and advertising preferences, largely based on generational norms, trends, and experiences. For instance, Gen Z may be more receptive to social media marketing, while baby boomers may prefer traditional advertising methods. Age also correlates to where consumers are at in life (people in their early 30s may be starting a family while someone in their 50s likely makes more money than someone in their 20s), which ties into some of the other demographic variables below.
Gender is another basic demographic variable — people of different genders have different needs and interests. That said, it’s important not to assume or play into gender stereotypes when making advertising decisions. Consider how trends and opinions regarding gender are changing among your target audience, so as not to upset them or miss out on converting potential customers.
Economic status plays a crucial role in how people make purchasing decisions. If you know certain groups of people aren’t able to afford your product, why spend money marketing to them? Lower income groups may prioritize getting the best deal, while higher-income groups might look to spend more on a better product. Knowing how much discretionary income your audience has allows you to set prices accordingly or design pricing tiers.
A consumer’s education level and occupation will impact their preferences and communication styles in a variety of ways. For example, highly educated groups might respond better to more informative or technical marketing messages. Meanwhile, B2B brands often target their audience based on job title, as only people in certain positions have the authority to make buying decisions on behalf of their company.
Factors like single vs. married and kids vs. no kids define a household’s needs. For instance, a single person without the responsibility of a family might be more likely to splurge on luxury items for themselves, while a large family with several children might prioritize cost savings or prefer buying in bulk. Marital status is a particularly useful demographic variable in industries like insurance, real estate, and travel.
Marketers are able to demographically segment customers based on cultural factors like race, ethnicity, and religion. Something that’s acceptable in one culture may be offensive or ill-favored in another, so it’s important to be aware of how certain beliefs and attitudes differ from group to group. Cultural segmentation is often considered in the food industry: Jewish people may follow a Kosher diet, some Christians don’t eat meat during Lent, etc.
In some cases, businesses may use demographic segmentation based on political or ideological beliefs. However, this approach requires careful consideration and may carry some risks. A common example is politicians segmenting their audience based on party affiliation during election season.
Collect your data
To implement demographic segmentation effectively, you’ll need to first collect relevant data about your customers. This can be gathered from your CRM, marketing analytics software, surveys, customer feedback, social media insights, or third-party data sources.
Analyze and group data
After collecting your data, analyze it to identify common patterns and segment customers based on specific demographic characteristics.
Select appropriate marketing channels
Different demographic groups may prefer specific marketing channels. For example, younger audiences may be more active on social media, while older demographics may respond better to email campaigns or print media. Choose which channels make sense for each demographic segment.
Personalize your message
Tailor your marketing messages, ads, and content to each segmented group. This could mean creating several versions of the same ad using slightly different language, or leveraging your ecommerce store to customize ads with products that interest each segment. Personalized marketing messages are more likely to capture your target audience’s attention and encourage them to convert.
No marketing strategy is perfect, so be aware of some potential challenges you may face as you work through demographic segmentation:
Shifting preferences. Demographic factors are not static and may change over time. Consumers might not fit neatly into specific categories, making it difficult to keep up with their evolving preferences.
Ignoring psychographic factors. Demographic segmentation focuses on external characteristics and may not consider other factors such as personality, values, and lifestyle. Remember, just because two shoppers are the same age and gender doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll exhibit the same purchasing behaviors.
The most effective segmentation strategy is one that factors in demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral data. But making sense of all this information on your own isn’t easy, which is why having the right technology and advertising partner is imperative.
AdRoll Unified Contacts and dynamic list builder power hyper-personalized marketing across ads and email for both identified and anonymous contacts. Achieve better communication with shoppers and more sales across channels — from a single platform.
Learn more about our audience and segmentation tools today.
Demographic segmentation examples in marketing include:
A car manufacturer promoting its luxury vehicle option to people who make more than $200k per year
Featuring construction workers in an ad selling pain-relief medication
A wholesale retailer targeting families with multiple children
The main demographic variables that should be considered when segmenting an audience are age, gender, income, education/occupation, and family structure.
Demographic segmentation is the practice of breaking a target audience into smaller groups based on demographic traits such as age, gender, and income level. Marketers are then able to advertise to these sub-groups more directly and precisely, leading to higher engagement and more conversions.
Have more questions about audience segmentation and targeting? Check out our resources below!
Last updated on August 9th, 2023.