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3 forgotten demographics you should be watching

3 forgotten demographics you should be watching Greg Kihlström

If you have not been under a rock for the last year or two, you've probably read article after article about how to reach Millennials, the latest golden children of the demographics world. Just don't actually call them "children" or else they might pout and say something to hint that they think they're smarter than you. Despite all the press this demographic receives, Millennials are often talked about as a much more homogenous group than they are in reality. Anyone diving deeper into the research will find that it is impossible to lump one group so broad in age range, large in population, and diverse in so many other ways into a single profile.

3 forgotten demographics you should be watching

Well, here we have more discourse about Millennials after all. But what about everyone else? In this article, we're going to talk about a few demographics you might be overlooking and should start paying more attention to, especially their digital and online habits. We'll discuss each a bit and then talk about what these findings mean for marketers.

60+ grandparents

Did you know that in 2013, 43 percent of Americans over age 65 were using at least one social networking site, according to Mashable? While there are certainly other demographics that use these networks more, this is still the fastest-growing group, with only 1 percent adoption in 2008. Beyond being good for digital marketers, this has also led to greater health in this demographic, with a research study showing that over the course of four years, older adults who spent time on social media sites had lower blood pressure and fewer instances of diabetes compared to those who did not.

Beyond social media, it's important to note that according to Social News Daily, 90 percent of senior citizens with a household income of $75,000 go online, with 60 percent of all seniors going online and 70 percent of those using the internet on a daily basis.

What does this mean for marketers?
It means that you don't just have to rely on direct mail and TV to reach seniors anymore. They are online and this is only increasing. While lower income seniors are still only at 30 percent digital adoption, if you are targeting higher income seniors, you are safe to assume they are online.

Gen X, single without kids

Remember Generation X? They get a lot of attention as parents these days, but it's also good to remember that there are many Gen Xers out there with the disposable income (and time) that comes with not having kids and/or spouses. However, this is also balanced with a large portion of this generation being debt-laden and choosing not to have children due to financial position.

This group, defined as those born between 1961 and 1981, fit right in the middle of the Boomer generation and Millennials in many ways, from technology and social media adoption, to their political views and other areas. They are also surprisingly family-oriented and the most highly educated generation in history.

What does this mean for marketers?
Generation X is increasingly online, much more than the Boomer generation, and Gen Xers are more likely to be using "traditional" digital channels, such as Facebook. This is a generation of hard workers, though one with a complex balance of high student debt and work ambitions but not always enough opportunity (because the Boomers are not retiring quickly enough).

Generation Z

While there are many names for this group (Generation Z is just one of several), it refers to those born in the mid-2000s or later, or after the Millennials. The target range for marketers is about age 11 to 16. While their traits have yet to fully emerge, this is a generation of people that have lived almost their entire lives with touchscreens and connected devices. Generation Z is also the most diverse and multicultural of any generation. This is a generation with 81 percent on social media.

Although their usage of established social network Facebook seems to have drastically decreased from 72 percent to 45 percent within the last year and a half, they are most certainly elsewhere online, on networks like Instagram (76 percent), Twitter (59 percent), and Pinterest (22 percent).

What does this mean for marketers?
While some things are too soon to tell, according to Advertising Age, Gen Z is more likely to adopt products and messaging more rooted in realism than those suggesting a perfect life. Entrepreneurialism and independence are important values, and members of Gen Z are truly mobile-first when it comes to all things. Two-way communication is paramount for this group as well. One-way broadcast advertising is not going to cut it here.

It is also safe to say that a Facebook-only campaign isn't going to be enough. Try cross-platform campaigns and bring Instagram into the mix.


While we can see that every demographic is adopting digital technology, by learning a bit more about some overlooked demographics we can more easily reach them and open up our marketing channels beyond some of the obvious targets. You can also see just how different it is to target Generation Z vs. Boomers online.

Finally, I must thank Gail Legaspi-Gaull of Hat Trick 3C for some of the insights and ideas for the demographic groups discussed in this article.

Greg Kihlström is founder and CEO of Carousel30.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Businessman with binoculars looking for new business" image via Shutterstock.

Greg is a digital strategist and creative director who has worked with top brands on a number of campaigns, including AOL, AARP, Ben & Jerry's, Geico Direct, MTV, Starbucks, The Nature Conservancy, Toyota, TV One and Washington Wizards.

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