Gen Z and Gender Identity: Toss Out the Stereotypes

Gen-Z wants gender inclusion, and brands that conduct customer persona research may uncover a larger market with these younger buyers.

In a week when a lot of the news covered a tragic fire caused by a so-called gender reveal party, it’s sort of ironic to realize that today’s babies may not grow up to view gender the same way their parents do at all.

Of course, babies get an assigned sex at birth. At the same time, Gen Z has already disrupted ideas about gender that their Baby Boomer, Millennial, and Gen X parents and grandparents just took for granted. The sex assigned at birth may or may not describe how individuals will grow up to view themselves.

And the way that people view themselves obviously influences the sorts of products they buy and even which businesses they choose to purchase those products from. Find out what marketers need to understand about changing perceptions of gender. This will help inform customer persona research, product development, and all aspects of marketing.

How Gen-Z attitudes about gender have changed

According to Pew Research, Gen-Z generally refers to people born after 1996. That means that some are young adults but many are still children. Right now, most surveys of this generation include people who are at least 13 years old. It’s possible that younger children will eventually form their own generation. Even so, Gen-Z will likely influence the attitudes of those that come after them.

Most importantly, Pew also found that members of Gen-Z tend to have very different attitudes about gender norms than their parents and grandparents. For some examples, Gen-Z members tend to have:

  • A comfort with gender-neutral pronouns: They’re most likely to know people who prefer gender-neutral pronouns for themselves. These younger people feel comfortable referring to an individual as “they” to avoid using “he” or “she.”
  • A preference for more than two gender options: They tend to believe that gender options on forms or surveys should include selections besides the traditional male or female. Leaving these out may skew results of marketing surveys and other data gathering. In the worst case, leaving out other gender options can even offend some respondents.
  • A desire for inclusion and diversity: Gen-Z generally feels that society should act more accepting to people who don’t define themselves in traditional gender roles. Since consumers tend to patronize companies they identify with, accepting changing gender definitions and promoting inclusion can help attract this market.

An audience analysis agency perspective on the positive side of disrupting gender norms

According to The Robin Report, a magazine for retail, fashion, and beauty executives, failing to account for changing gender norms can mean losing out on billions of dollars that Gen-Z and younger Millennials spend on retail goods. Some changes may prove quite simple.

These are some suggestions to help target audience demographics of Gen-Z better:

  • Consider gender-neutral packaging: Sure, young women have been purchasing “boyfriend” jeans for decades, but young men may also prefer to purchase a certain brand’s clothes and beauty products if they didn’t appear targeted solely to women. Consider using diverse models and maintaining authenticity by resisting the urge to dramatically Photoshop images.
  • Consider genderless products: Well-established luxury brands have introduced genderless fashion and even coed fashion shows. As an example, Abercrombie introduced a children’s line of genderless clothes, which appealed to progressive parents. Also, Victoria’s Secret made news by hiring a transgender model.
  • Don’t overlook the “other” genders: For instance, many cosmetics companies targeted their marketing to women. At the same time, one survey found that over half of men admitted to using at least one cosmetic product during 2018. These products included concealers and foundations. By embracing gender diversity, beauty companies can tap a huge market.

How an audience targeting agency can welcome Gen-Z consumers

If today’s brands want to grow by engaging an audience of younger people, they should stop limiting their potential by restricting themselves to traditional notions of gender. An audience insights agency may help businesses uncover some surprising news about a product’s potential market. And really, if a company just has to bend some gender rules to attract an audience, then that surprising news is really good news.

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What an Audience Analysis Agency Thinks About True Crime

What kind of people like true crime podcasts, documentaries, and articles? Learn how a brand personas agency views true crime fans.

Everybody’s heard the old adage that says crime doesn’t pay, especially in the long run. Plenty of stories about the eventual fates of criminals prove the saying true in some sense. They often end up dead, in prison, or at least, disgraced. Still, that saying sure does not apply to a genre of crime stories called true crime. In fact, true crime podcasts, books, and documentaries have been attracting legions of fans and lots of revenue.

Meanwhile, all kinds of businesses have jumped on the bandwagon. They want to know if they can use this fascination with factual accounts of newsworthy crimes to bolster their own audience, so they may seek the perspective of an audience analysis agency to find out more.

An audience analysis agency perspective of true crime fans

As an example of true crime popularity, according to Forbes, the “My Favorite Murder” podcast raked in over $15 million last year. That’s more than finance guru Dave Ramsey’s earnings of $10 million. Out of all podcasts, “My Favorite Murder” only ranked behind comedian Joe Rogan’s $30 million income.

Besides the “My Favorite Murder” podcast and related content, true crime fans can find plenty of other podcasts, books, and even Netflix specials on the topic of real-life criminals and their victims. The public has had an appetite for true crime stories for years. Everybody knows about Jack the Ripper.

Still, these tales of crime, suffering, and punishment have gained unprecedented traction in the last few decades. Obviously, this genre can attract a large audience. Still, before deciding if true crime stories provide a good opportunity to for business sponsorship, a brand personas agency would want to know more about the audience.

Why do so many people like true crime stories?

A social psychologist named Amanda Vicary also grew fascinated with true crime. In turn, she also gained an interest in the psychological appeal of these sometimes grizzly and disturbing stories. For one thing, she had presumed that this sort of thing would mostly appeal to men. After doing a little research, she found out that women made up the overwhelming majority of the audience. Even though she liked this genre, the large female majority of the audience surprised her.

Dr. Vicary wanted to resolve this apparent paradox with a study that she eventually even published in a scientific journal. She discovered that, like herself, women’s interest generally centered upon the mental processes involved in these criminal acts. Perhaps surprisingly, women usually also preferred stories with female victims.

It’s surprising because Vicary said research has found that women tend to fear becoming victims of crime more than men do. As she dug into the mystery, she found that reacting to that fear may have attracted the audience. She finally concluded that that these stories drew in women because they hoped to learn enough about these acts of violence or exploitation enough to figure out which steps they could take to either prevent or survive them.

Dr. Vicary admitted that many women might experience this feeling subconsciously. Consciously or not, people may view true crime stories as a way to prepare and even to gain comfort, and this knowledge should factor into your audience analysis.

How can understanding true crime fans help with audience marketing?

Actually, it’s possible for marketers to learn a lot about true crime audiences during the audience analysis portion of their marketing research. Just from Dr. Vicary’s research, a brand personas agency would learn the likely gender of the majority. They would also understand that most of their audience doesn’t indulge in these alarming stories for a vicarious thrill. They don’t view the criminals as heroes either.

Instead, they want to better understand crimes as a way to gain the information that they could use to protect themselves of feel comforted they would never get into the same position as the victim. The audience feels threatened on some level, and they view true crime as a sort of self-defense school.

That’s not enough information for a completed set of buyer personas. Still, it’s a good start. To learn more, marketers would need to probe further into the audience for any particular kind of content they might either plan to produce or sponsor. Considering Dr. Vicary, a noted researcher and professor, enjoys these kinds of stories, it’s not wise to make assumptions about educational levels, income, or age.

Why consider true crime content for audience marketing?

Knowing even this much, this kind of audience might spark the interest of any businesses promoting home security, self-defense products, or almost anything related to preparing better defenses against the type of villains featured in true crime stories. These people already demonstrated a willingness to invest in informative content, so they’re probably also likely to invest in other solutions.

Also, a majority of the audience appears eager to take control of their lives by educating themselves. Beyond security, they may also have an interest in businesses that help them learn new things, enjoy different experiences, or even gain more power. Businesses that promote courses or products related to health, business, self-improvement, careers, and even beauty may find an attentive market.

All in all, true crime fans may provide a surprisingly receptive and open-minded market for all sorts of companies that can offer them value.

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Demystifying the DINK Demographic for Creating Brand Personas

The DINK demographic usually has more time and money to spend on themselves, so it’s worthwhile to explore the dual-income, no-kids market. 

Everybody has heard of the Gen Z, Gen X, Millennial, Baby Boomer, and Greatest Generation. However, the DINK demographic, short for Dual Income and No Kids, has now entered marketing lingo. Since any audience development agency may presume that many couples without kids have more time and disposable income than those with larger families, they’ve become a prime target for consumer marketing. 

How an audience development agency develops brand personas for the DINK demographic 

DINK refers to two-income couples who have chosen not to have children. It doesn’t necessarily mean these couples belong a specific age or income group; however, marketers may tend to mostly picture them as Millennials with decent salaries.

As for why they’re often associated with Millennials, just last year, even before the COVID crisis, Business Insider mentioned that the U.S. birthrate had declined to its lowest in three decades. A survey attributed the decline mostly to Millennials’ uncertainty about the future.

Since the Millennial generation has grown to become the majority of the workforce, they get a lot of attention from marketers anyway. Still, sometimes DINK can refer to members of other generations, even Baby Boomers who are empty nesters.

Digging deeper into the DINK generation

If some DINK couples decide they’re not ready for parenting, they appear fairly eager for other kinds of experiences. While nobody should try to put all dual-income-no-children couples in one basket, marketers can enjoy great success with this group as a target market with the right approach and product.

From the perspective of an audience insights agency, marketers should consider these general observations to succeed with the market:

1. Research target audience demographics

Some DINK couples may choose to skip parenthood because they feel uncertain or are simply unwilling to give up their freedom. However, in other cases, the idea of parenthood might not appeal to them or even be possible. Many even choose to delay parenthood but consider it a possibility in the future. That’s why an audience targeting agency should conduct research on specific target market demographics and behavior to better understand their likely audience in order to develop useful buyer personas.

2. Consider marketing innovative products, services, or businesses 

Even though a DINK couple might not feel ready to make a lifelong commitment of parenthood, they generally tend to be early adapters and interested in innovation. They may also have more time and money to learn about and experience new things.

Even if one product doesn’t appear terribly innovative, it’s good to focus upon any fresh or transformative aspects of the business. As an example, several vitamin companies have developed successful apps that help customers figure out which of their brand of supplements will benefit their customer’s health the most.

3. Promote company values

In contrast to the image of a DINK couple as very focused upon themselves, many use some of their extra time to volunteer and stay current with social issues. As a generation, most Millennials appear to care about patronizing businesses that share their values. An audience development agency should consider this trait as they develop a picture of their market and the marketing message they intend to send to them.

4. How certain markets may appeal to potential traits of a DINK audience

This list explains some of the types of markets that might appeal to a DINK audience:

  • Luxury goods: This market tends to like to share their experiences and not mind paying for value. Nice cars, high-quality, gourmet food, and similar luxury goods can reflect well on them in their own eyes and that of their social circle.
  • Things to do with spare time: Without the demands of getting kids to bed or scheduling babysitters, leisure activities may attract  couples without kids. They might take the chance to buy a boat or learn to cook their own gourmet meals.
  • Travel: Couples without children might have an easier time scheduling vacations because they won’t need to book things around school and kid’s activities. They’re also likely to travel further and not need to skimp on a budget vacation because it’s just the two of them.
  • Experiences: Again, innovative experiences will tend to attract DINK couples, and that might include anything from new entertainment and museum special events to a home automation system or solar panels. If the business must market something more ordinary, like soup mix, perhaps they could incorporate a message about eco-friendly packaging or service projects the business supports to demonstrate their corporate values.

Why market to the DINK demographic?

Forgoing parenthood and having both partners in a marriage work does not necessarily mean a couple enjoys a high income. Still, people without children may also be able to save money over their parenting peers. They may buy or rent smaller houses and apartments and don’t need to share disposable income with kids. Also, dual-income, no-children families may have more free time to enjoy some of the finer things and more energy to invest in learning about them.  Having time and money can make them an excellent target market for the right businesses.

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CPG Brands: Who Makes Household Decisions in Families?

When it comes to CPG brands, determining the likely marketing audience should be listed at the top of any marketing plan. Find out who decides what to buy.

As one of the first steps to develop a marketing plan, a CPG marketing agency will conduct audience research. Obviously, they need to learn as much as they can about the behavior and demographics of consumers who they might attract to their products.

If these products appeal to couples of families, the business should determine which member of the household typically makes buying decisions about CPG products. That way, they will know how to effectively target the other steps in their marketing campaign.

What CPG marketing agency research reveals about household decision makers for CPG brands

Of course, consumer packaged goods come from multiple industries. They can range from pet food to coffee to stockings. Few household members make 100 percent of the decisions about which products or brands to buy. Still, it’s no surprise to see a study on Chain Store Age that found women, typically mothers, make most of the buying choices in average, two-parent families.

Some interesting results from this study found:

  • In a typical, traditional family, Mom usually chooses what to buy. Though fathers have recently grown more involved in household purchase decisions, mothers still make most of these choices in 80 percent of families.
  • Still, men have grown more involved in the CPG-shopping process lately. Lately, moms make about two-thirds of the household decisions, compared to about 80 percent in the past.

Of course, men tend to make certain kinds of decisions for some CPG products more than women do. For instance, in most traditional families, expect more men than women to buy goods for lawn maintenance and home repair. They’re also slightly more likely to choose items related to autos and tech than they are for more general products.

Women made almost always made choices about children’s clothes or toys. In some areas, men and women tend to share buying decisions equally. These include products related to entertainment, furnishings, and appliances.

Who buys the groceries?

While consumer packaged goods can cover a lot of different areas, people often associate them with items found at the grocery store. Some obvious examples include peanut butter, soap, and coffee. At least in traditional families, Pew Research found that women do at least 80 percent of both the cooking and the shopping.

That’s true if a couple has children or not. Couples have started sharing more household chores than they did in the past. At the same time, women usually buy and prepare food most of the time. Pew Research also mentioned that women tend to spend less time doing paid jobs than men do, so that may account for some of the imbalance when it comes to grocery trips and food preparation.

Who should a consumer package goods agency target?

Of course, it’s impossible to offer a one-size-fit-all answer for all kinds of CPG products. Also, even in cases where one gender or another tended to make some kinds of choices more often, they did not always make them and also probably made some purchases because of influence of the other partner.

After all, if a husband expresses a preference for a certain brand of salad dressing or pickles, his wife will probably remember that on her next trip to the supermarket. Similarly, if children ask for a certain kind of socks or a new video game, that request may eventually lead to an adult purchase decision.

Even 10 years ago, AdAge promoted the idea that CPG companies should target men more. Even if surveys show that women tend to make two-thirds of household decisions, that still leaves one-third of purchase choices to men. AdAge also pointed out that even though women still do most of the shopping, men do more of it than they used to do. Even a smaller share of a market could add up to a growth opportunity for some CPG companies.

Why do marketers need to know who tends to choose their types of product?

Marketers need to define their audience before they can make good choices about a number of other factors in their marketing plan. These can range from the platforms used for marketing to the color of the product packaging.

Consider these examples:

  • Crazy Egg revealed that women like blue, purple, and green the most, but they tend not to prefer gray, orange, and brown as much. In contrast, men also like blue and green, but they also tend to gravitate to black. Men also tend to dislike orange and brown, but they shy away from purple.
  • Men and women both use social sites, still they may tend to favor different kinds of platforms. For instance, expect to find more women on sites like Pinterest and Facebook and more men on more discussion-oriented sites like Reddit.

No consumer package goods agency can generalize about exactly which gender or member of the family makes all the household decisions about CPG brands. This can also vary quite a bit for different types of products, and not all families have the traditional mom, dad, and kids. Still, determining their most likely customers will make plenty of other marketing decisions easier for CPG brands.

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Putting the Persona in Persona-Based Marketing

If you want to understand your audience, identify their pain points and win them over, persona-based marketing is critically important. 

Know Your Customer — it’s the First Commandment of Marketing. It’s also the reason why persona-based marketing is so critically important for modern brands. Without identifying who your customers are, you can’t understand what motivates them, identify their pain points and connect with them.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at why persona-based marketing is a powerful tool for advertisers, marketers and brands.

Putting the persona in persona-based marketing

So how do brands get their feet wet in persona-based marketing? First, it’s necessary to create detailed profiles of your potential buyers. These buyer personas then serve as the core of your targeted marketing strategy; they are idealized representations of the audience most likely to purchase your products and services.

A buyer persona is a comprehensive image of a customer that reflects who they are, what motivates them and their propensity to act through each stage of the sales cycle. Some businesses will only need to develop two or three personas, others may be better served by a dozen or more.

These personas are based on a variety of sources, including:

  • Market research into probable buyers, including surveys and in-person interviews. This research provides a fuller picture of the wants, needs and tendencies of a brand’s likely market.
  • Insights and feedback gleaned from existing customers. The same research process can be applied to a brand’s current client set, and this process often provides unique insights, given that these audiences are already familiar with the products or services on offer. Brands also often work with their in-house sales team to learn more about existing and potential customers.
  • Sourced and analyzed consumer data. Customers often say they want one thing, then go buy another. Our words and intentions don’t always reflect our actions, and objective data can help provide another window into what truly moves buyers. 
  • Broader market, industry and demographic information. This data can provide critical context during the brand persona creation process. Such information allows brands to take a wider angle view, and anticipate looming changes within markets and industries. If you can anticipate these changes, you can also anticipate how customers may be affected.

Buyer persona categorization

Brands developing persona-based marketing strategies should also understand that different classes of buyers require varying approaches. For example, when dealing with individual buyers (someone who makes a one-time retail purchase, for example), you’d create a single persona type with a variety of personas to fit within that type. A persona development agency can help you accomplish this task.

B2B operations, however, are often led by sales teams rather than a single buyer. C suite executives, sales leaders, marketing leaders etc. may all be involved in the procurement/sales process. In such cases, brands create team-based personas. These often include a dedicated persona for each member of the purchasing team — personas that outline the specific prerogatives inherent to each position. For example, a team persona designed for a Chief Financial Officer would focus on pricing issues, ROI and other monetary motivators.

Working with the right persona development agency

Buyer persona development, when done at a high level, requires research expertise, industry knowledge and an advanced grasp of marketing strategy. It’s often a tall order for brands to accomplish this without outside help.

At Bigeye, we’re experts at creating finely targeted buyer personas supported by experience and insight. Contact us today to learn more about what the right  agency can do for you. 

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Four Audience Targeting Strategies for Your Product

Audience targeting can help you identify who your ideal customers are and help you create relevant and resonant marketing messages.

Few things are sadder than wasted potential — and that applies to both people and products. If you build a great product or service and can’t get it in front of the right audiences, your odds of realizing its potential are slim. This is one reason why audience targeting is so critically important.

Audience targeting 101

The practice of audience targeting is straightforward: You take a large customer segment and break it down into smaller groups in order to target likely buyers within these groups.

The animating principle of audience segmentation is this: General messages sent to large undifferentiated audiences don’t resonate the same way that specific messages sent to highly targeted audiences do.

In other words, why waste your time selling your product or service to people who aren’t interested? Instead, find the people who are interested and send them messages custom-designed to appeal to their wants, needs and interests.

Audience segmentation comes in four general types:

  • Geographic: The state, city, neighborhood etc. where your audience lives.
  • Behavioral: This evaluates spending habits, brand interactions etc.
  • Demographics: Includes age, gender, marital status, income level, education level etc.
  • Psychographic: Personality, beliefs, values, interests etc.

By considering these four factors, brands can begin to develop highly tailored audience segments and deliver customized marketing messages. This allows brands to speak directly to consumers, creating specific messages for specific audiences. This creates higher-quality leads, more loyal customers, and differentiates your brand from others.

Smart strategies for audience targeting

In order to get maximum value from your audience targeting efforts, it’s important to lay the groundwork by following some tried and true segmentation strategies. Some of the most impactful strategies include the following:

  • Begin with buyer personas. The buyer persona is the foundational document for targeting purposes. These personas are descriptions of your ideal customers (some businesses may have two or three, others up to a dozen). These personas are constructed from market research, internal data, demographic data, and other sources. Once a brand has well-defined buyer personas in place, the process of targeting specific audiences becomes viable.
  • Use an identity graph. Such graphs are powerful algorithmic tools for identifying who your highest-spending customers are and where you can reach them. By analyzing mobile advertising IDs and email address data, brands can gain deep insight into what potential customers are searching for along with their purchasing behavior.
  • Use Facebook and other social platforms for custom targeting. It’s not the most complex approach, but Facebook has more information on our interests than any other organization. It’s no stretch to say Facebook knows most of its users better than they know themselves. Brands can use Facebook’s backend to set up demographic, behavioral and psychographic profiles that target the right audiences.
  • AI-assisted chatbots. With the right design and programming, a chatbot can significantly improve UX and glean critical targeting data from site or app visitors. This data can be used to determine whether visitors fall within target markets. Marketing messages can then be tailored according to this segmentation.

Locating the ideal audience insights agency

Audience targeting has long been a critical part of advertising and marketing, but today’s digital tools are making the job easier than ever before. At Bigeye we have the domain expertise and technological resources to help you find the right audience and serve them with the perfect messages.

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