Tuesday Aug 30

Demographic Trends

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Understanding Demographic Trends

Demographic trends reveal developments and changes in human population. More specifically, demographic trends relate to changes in a population’s age, gender, geographical location, marital status, educational attainment, employment status, household income, race, religion, and health.

Business leaders, marketers, and advertisers can glean valuable insight from demographic trends. For example, a geographical location might experience a shift in migration patterns. Without understanding demographic trends for the area, businesses could make decisions on a customer segment based on conjecture. Evaluating demographic trends for the area, however, might reveal that there’s a change in the population’s average age, employment status, income, or wealth—all of which would help businesses better target its customers and prospects.

The more information about a population that business decision-makers can appropriately group together, the more valuable the data will be to them. This can yield additional insight such as trends in a population’s socioeconomic status, life stage, and lifestyle. Socioeconomic status is determined by measuring income, education, occupation, and wealth of an individual or a family. Life stage is based on an individual’s age, family status, and relationships. Lifestyle is determined by education, location, activities, interests, opinions, socioeconomic status, and life stage. All of these characteristics are helpful to businesses as they are valuable predictors of consumer spending trends.  

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The Value of Demographic Trends

Staying up to date on the latest demographic trends enables organizations to identify existing and emerging markets for their products and services. By evaluating customers’ and prospects’ demographic trends, business decision-makers can identify changing needs in the marketplace and adjust to them. Demographic trends can also help organizations spot future spending trends. For example, the spending trends of Baby Boomers could change as they age out of their peak earning years and head into retirement.

When combined with behavioral and attitudinal data, demographics can be used to improve marketing effectiveness by helping businesses target new customer segments with the right messages at the right time. When done well, businesses can increase consumer awareness, improve customer acquisition efforts, and bolster customer retention rates. 

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Demographic Trends and Customer Data

There are three main types of customer data: demographic, behavioral, and attitudinal. Demographic data and demographic trends play a key role in a marketer’s customer acquisition and retention efforts. Naturally, demographic data must be combined with behavioral and attitudinal data to get the most accurate view of consumers. Properly segmenting customers by relevant demographic data is an essential foundation for a sound marketing strategy.

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Generations Defined by the U.S. Census Bureau

While some demographers define generations by historical and cultural events, the U.S. Census Bureau uses a statistically measurable approach that determines generational cohorts by annual birthrates, using 4 million as the watermark that identifies the beginning and end of a generation. When birthrates average above or below 4 million per year for an extended period of time, it represents a generational cohort that is only changed when the average birthrate crosses that benchmark again. For example, from 1946 to 1964, the average annual U.S. birthrate remained above 4,000,000, which according to the U.S. Census Bureau, marks the entire period of the Baby Boomer generation. From 1965 to 1976, the average annual U.S birthrate remained below 4,000,000, which represents the generation known as Baby Bust (II) or Generation X. Below is a list of generations determined by the U.S. Census Bureau of generations:

  • Classics (born from 1900 to 1920)
    • (the last American cohort in which the population pyramid takes on the standard "step" form for males and females)
  • Baby Bust (I) (born from 1921 to 1945)
    • early cohort (born from 1921 to 1933)
    • late cohort (born from 1934 to 1946)
  • Baby Boomers (born from 1946 to 1964)
    • Boomer Cohort #1 (born from 1946 to 1957)
    • Boomer Cohort #2 (born from 1957 to 1964)
  • Gen X/Baby Bust (II) (born from 1964 to 1976)
  • Gen Y/Millennials/Echo Boomers (born from 1976 to 1994)
    • Leading Edge (born from 1977 to 1990)
    • Trailing Edge (born from 1990 to 1994)

Generation Z/Generation I (born from 1995 to 2009?)

The Census Bureau hasn’t yet categorized the generation that follows Generation Y. Many experts are already dubbing it “Generation Z” or “Generation I.” However, little information is available about this young generation, except that the first members of this generation were born around 1995. What’s particularly interesting about Generation Z or Generation I is that every member of this generation was born after the Internet became popularized, which will likely affect this generation’s experiences, attitudes, and opinions.

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Top 7 Books on Demographic Trends

  1. The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Storm by Kenneth W. Gronbach (Hardcover - July 3, 2008)

  2. The Age of Aging: How Demographics are Changing the Global Economy and Our World by George Magnus (Hardcover - Oct. 13, 2008)

  3. Boom, Bust & Echo: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Shift by David K. Foot and Daniel Stoffman (Hardcover - Apr. 1997)

  4. The Leisure Economy: How Changing Demographics, Economics, and Generational Attitudes Will Reshape Our Lives and Our Industries by Linda Nazareth (Hardcover - Oct. 26, 2007)

  5. State and Local Population Projections: Methodology and Analysis (The Springer Series on Demographic Methods and Population Analysis) by Stanley K. Smith, Jeff Tayman, and David A. Swanson (Paperback - May 27, 2008)

  6. Boomer Selling - Helping the wealthiest generation in history own your premium products and services by Steve Howard (Paperback - Jan. 30, 2009)

  7. Almanac of American Demographics by Colin Nagengast (Paperback - June 15, 2009)

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