I write a lot about the changing nature of audience targeting and how the traditional demographic segmentation no longer serves today's complex society, and last week Sir Ian McKellen articulated this more beautifully in his interview with BBC Radio 4 than I have found the words so far: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05xhb8f
Through conversations with schoolchildren, Sir Ian found that they don't actually want to be labelled anything. Instead, fluidity is the future, where labels have no place and everyone is treated as an individual. Sir Ian was talking about sexuality and the labels given to different orientations, but this rings true for age and lifestyle labeling also.
More often than not, we as marketers make assumptions on audience behaviour based on these kinds of demographics. We assume that our target markets will react a certain way to generalised messaging because they fit a certain demographic. But what Sir Ian McKellen proves here is that the target markets of the future do not and will not respond to labeling. And this is not just the case for Gen Z.
I have read countless stories recently that brands are focusing on marketing specifically to Millennials, however, this wide age bracket contains the scope for so many stages of life, interest and income. Just because consumers are born within the bracket, does not mean that they will respond to the same messaging.
As marketers on the front line of planing and strategy, it is our responsibility to change the face of audience targeting forever or risk not making an impact at all. We must listen to consumers and how they want to be spoken to. We must understand that it is interests that drive decisions, not age, sexuality or lifestyle. By focusing on the interests of our audiences we will be able to connect with them on a more personal level than ever before.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think the future is, as it was expressed to me by a couple of sixth form girls the other day, they don’t want labels.