‘Stark gaps’: Why age-focused media plans are missing key audience traits

‘Stark gaps’: Why age-focused media plans are missing key audience traits

Living circumstances are more likely to indicate purchase preferences than age demographics, research has found.

Kantar Media TGI data found that living circumstances were currently “more likely” to indicate “alignment between consumers” than age, which is normally used as a shorthand for media-buying, as a result of growing financial pressures like rising interest rates, cost-of-living crisis and uncertainty around mortgage rates.

It found more than a quarter (27%) of 21- to 26-year-olds living at home with their parents said they preferred to buy premium goods and services, the same percentage as those aged over-55 who owned their own homes. This suggested that exposure to the housing market, or not, could be “a better indicator” of purchase preferences than age.

Sarah Sanderson, managing director of TGI at Kantar Media, said: “The cost-of-living crisis is hitting people in very different ways. Marketers must understand these trends to make sure their messaging lands in the right way with the right people.

“The trouble is, many campaigns are still planned largely using demographics, but this misses the nuance of how people’s lives are being impacted. Our TGI data shows that even labels like homeowner are too broad brush now given the mix of financial pressures consumers are facing.”

Mortgage renewers under more pressure

Kantar Media’s TGI data found “stark gaps” in cost consciousness and spending intention between those expecting to renew their mortgage in the next 12 months, and average consumers. For mortgage renewers, price was an increasingly important factor when it came to toiletries and cosmetics (+18%) and food (+8%), compared to 7% and 6% for all adults.

Mortgage renewers were more likely to delay big ticket item purchases like fridges, tablet computers, and TVs in the next year with declines of 64%, 39% and 18% in purchase intent in the next 12 months. This was the same for intention to purchase a car in the next two years, with a drop of 22%.

The research also showed a decline of 20% in mortgage renewers’ level of happiness with 47% saying they were “perfectly happy” with their standard of living, compared to 64% of people that owned their own home outright.

“Demographics have a role to play but they’re just one piece of the jigsaw — mortgage renewers are in this predicament largely by chance rather than anything to do with their age or gender.  While campaign planning teams probably know the limitations of demographic models, their apparent simplicity can be seductive,” Sanderson added.

“However, now more than ever, marketers have to take into account the full scope of consumers’ attitudes, behaviours and circumstances. If not, they risk misrepresenting the true picture and wasting budgets at a time when they can ill afford to.”

She concluded: “It would be far riskier to ignore this opportunity than to stick with the status quo.”

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