When you are a small business owner, answering the question of what are important customer demographic can make or break your marketing efforts.
updated September 2015
Customer Demographics are defined by Wikipedia as including “gender, race, age, income, disabilities, mobility (in terms of travel time to work or number of vehicles available), educational attainment, home ownership, employment status, and even location.” These types of classifications can help us to target the right kind of marketing to the customers we are trying to target.
Top customer demographic categories to look for:
- Census Bureau data – free to use and a wealth of information.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Demographic categories used by the BLS include sex, age, race and ethnic origin.
- Social Security Fact Sheet – Misc high level data about African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics, Asians, Women and Young People.
- Tax Records – Tax records can generally be found by searching “tax assessor’s office” for the county that you are are researching. This data is a goldmine for length of residency, mortgage information, tax exemptions and deferrals.
Additional Customer Demographic Resources:
Customer Demographics – Age Ranges, Generational Names and Numbers. Really good post breaking down generational demographic data.
Customer Demographics Versus The Perfect Customer Profile If you are trying to figure out your “Customer Avatar” by using demographic data, this is a great post to show the difference between demographic data and finding your perfect customer.
Small Business Customer Demographics A more general overview of Customer Demographics, this one will help you to laser focus on the customers you should be targeting.
She-Conomy Awesome compilation of statistics about marketing to women!
Examples small business demographics market segmentation:
All this customer demographic data is great but if you don’t know to use and implement it in the real world, it is not actually all that helpful!
Here are a few examples of how you can use demographics in practice for your marketing efforts.
- Hairdresser and Salon Customer Demographics – if you are selling haircuts, you could have a number of different types of clients. You could cater to young, african american males who are looking for edgy cuts OR you could target middle aged women who need a cut and color every six weeks or so. BELIEVE ME, the marketing to attract these two groups are going to be VERY different and trying to hit both of them would be impossible. For both the younger crowd and the ladies, Facebook is a good answer. You will want to target people in your geographic location (another demographic).
- Financial Services Customer Demographics – this is a little easier. While everyone can afford a haircut, financial services people need to target consumers and business owners who are in a higher income range and who are interested in increasing their wealth. This customer will generally be older than 40, have a higher level of education and are probably currently employed. You can start relationships on Facebook, but you will grow a level of trust more easily with an email newsletters or videos of your service offerings.
- Real Estate Customer Demographics – I have to say, as an industry I think that some Realtors are a little bit more focused on customer demographics than other small business owners are. OBVIOUSLY a first time homebuyer couple in their early 20’s or 30’s will need to have a different marketing message than empty nesters looking for a second home. While most Realtors will work with anyone who will fog a mirror, I KNOW that they would be more successful if they at least had different campaigns for the different target groups they serve.
I could go on and on, but hopefully you can start to get an idea of how to pick some demographics that could represent your ideal customer.
NOW, choosing your target customer demographics can seem like profiling rather than simply targeting demographics. While profiling is hurtful and unfair, demographics are used so that you can get your message out to a group of people who will be receptive to hearing your message. It will also allow you to save marketing dollars, as you will not be spending money with ads in places where your ideal customer does not frequent.
Fun exercise – One thing I have heard people do is to pick your important customer demographics and then make up a person who matches them. You could find a stock photo of someone who epitomizes your marketing criteria and then name him or her. That way, instead of trying to imagine what a made up person thinks or would buy, you can “sell” to someone you get to know!