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Demographics are done

November 29, 2006

In the past week two headlines jumped out from the screen.

10 is the new 15 as kids grow up quicker

Cosmetic surgery makes 60s the new middle age

Of course, this has been going on for years, the up-ageing of kids and the down-ageing of adults, but it seems to be reaching some kind of extreme, soon everyone will pretty much been the same mental age and there will be just one demographic.

The reality is that behind these headlines there are some distinct changes taking place. There is a kind of magical 15 year age band that people want to be in; it’s somewhere between 15-30, everyone wants to be in that band.

Sadly we are still ruled by demographics, media has been slow to lose the shackles and while there are endless conferences and conversations on engagement, we still don’t really understand exactly who it is we are supposed to be engaging.

Time and again advertising and programming fails to reflect the real world and instead chooses an antiquated vision of Pleasantville, assuming that people really live like that, our aspire to be like that.

So let’s slay some demographic sacred cows.

Grey boomers boosting Nintendo’s sales

30somethings in Gainesville behaving like teens

GenX dads want to be real dads

4 out of 10 babies are born out of wedlock

Country music looks to tap into Latinos

35% of YouTube users are over 45

70% of casual gamers are 40+

Over 40s now account for 25% of music sales

46% of Apple households are 55+

The point is that it’s easy to hide behind some prescribed notion of a world which bears no relation to the reality.

As narrowcasting hits us big time, we are going to need to be a lot more astute about understanding micro-segments. Understanding detailed cultural nuances is going to be more and more important.

Surely this is a critical role for planners?

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