Behavior-Based Marketing: A Solution to Excess Demography
If you are a consistent reader of the last couple of blog posts, you may have caught me on a soapbox rant about the inaccuracies and damaging results that come from demography in marketing. You may have also seen me on the same soapbox about customers feeling overwhelmed about advertisement oversaturation. Before I should start buying a literal soapbox from Amazon, I want to point out that both of these issues are not only solvable, but there are some forward-thinking companies that are already engaging in that solution. I am talking, about behavior based marketing.
Behavior-Based Marketing: What is it?
When you assign a person or a group of people based on concrete traits, you are using demography.
For instance, I the blogger, and technically female, 5’1, live near Huntsville, Alabama, and have two jobs. These are traits that are more or less fixed, and while there is some room for fluctuation, such as a gender reassignment, moving to another location, or quitting a job, those are still long-term concrete factors that are less likely to change.
However, when you start assigning a person or a group of people based on their personal habits, you are using behavior profiling.
In this example, I the blogger; rarely go out in public, play video games moderately, like horror movies, and am knowledgeable about odd bits of trivia. These traits also define me. However, these traits are also abstract. They can certainly be demonstrated through things like the choices I make, and my preferences, but they are still very much internal factors until I use my behavior as an outlet to express them.
So, if I were to come up with a formal definition for the term, Behavior Based Marketing, it would be ” a marketing tactic that is based on the evidence of consistent habits, patterns, and rituals of target audiences.
The Case for Behavior-Based Marketing Tactics:
Human beings are just a funny bunch. There will always be part of us that wants to belong to a group of people like us. We crave it on a psychological level because we are capable of feeling lonely and vulnerable. However, there is also the part of us that wants to be acknowledged for our individual traits just as much. We want to fit in, but we also want to stand out in a small way.
This is solved by people showing parts of their personal preferences in public when it fits a societal standard and keeping other personal preferences to themselves.
Example: How Demography Could Fail You
For instance, a conservative, religious, 50-year-old white man who’s lived in Huntsville, Alabama his whole life is shopping at a bookstore. Already, you can cobble a customer profile with his information.
It would be easy for the bookseller to guess what the customer would buy based off that information. The bookseller guesses that the customer would either pick up a James Patterson novel, a Western, or a Faithpoint book. This is evidenced by his previous interactions with other customers like the one who just walked through that door.
But the customer goes to the comic book section instead.
This is a part of the customer’s personal preference that does not jive with his stereotypical outer appearance. He might not even share it with others in his life because he either does not feel it is appropriate or thinks no one else he knows would be interested. However, there are two ways that this entire scenario could go, based on which information the bookseller goes by.
- The bookseller noticed the customer walk to the comic book section. He knows that his initial prediction was debunked based on the customer’s behavior. With that knowledge, he can make an accurate sales offer and create a positive sales interaction.
- The bookseller did not pay attention and offers him the latest James Patterson novel in a conversation. He used his faulty logic based on what he knows of a demographic. This creates an awkward interaction could cost the store a repeat customer.
Demography is Good for General Advertising Only
If you use only demography to make marketing decisions with, you will fail as a company. Demography is only good for gathering generalized information about a broad audience. If your goal is to sell a generalized product to anyone, then demography is good for that.
However, will doom you in an interpersonal interaction.
People are not statistics. If you try to pitch a specific item to a specific person based on general data, you will wind up stereotyping. Stereotyping and generalized messages used to be acceptable in a time when people lived, ate, bought, socialized, and died in one location. However, thanks to technological progress, that isn’t the case anymore. We are now exposed to a variety of places, people, and culture more than ever before. When you put a diverse group of people in one place, personal taste, values, and habits grow more diverse. Generalization is bound to fall flat.
Ok, so I stated my case as to why demography does not succeed in an interpersonal sales situation. However, I did not state the companies that are already engaging in this practice, what they are using, and if there are people who demand this form of advertising. That one is going to have to come around next time. Stay safe Huntsville, Alabama.
Also published on Medium.