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Demographic segmentation: how-to guide

Marketers need a way to better understand their audiences. Demographic segmentation divides heterogeneous groups of people into smaller groups based on characteristics that can be defined and measured, such as age, income level, or family size. Specific categories of people become a target demographic for marketers, helping them sell to these groups more easily. It assumes that smaller groups have similar preferences that make it easier to sell to them.

Demographic segmentation helps marketers be very specific about their target market. Demographics include age, income, occupation, and other similar variables that describe a group of people. Companies use surveys at one point in time or at several points in time to understand changes in customer preferences and behaviors. Using demographic analysis with survey data can be used to create user personas that summarize the tastes of each group. Personas personalize demographic data, helping marketers to envision a person, not just a group of statistics.

For instance, a marketing team may create B2B personas to understand their customers better. By combining their age, occupation, and other variables, they can make a persona that reflects their target market’s decision-making process and buying habits.

Find out in minutes with SurveyMonkey Consumer Segmentation.

Surveys are an easy way to collect demographic data. They are available in our survey templates to ensure the results meet your project’s needs. Demographic segmentation questions include:

  1. What is your age? 
  2. What is your household income? 
  3. What is your highest level of education?
  4. How many members are in your household?
  5. What is your gender preference?
  6. Do you own or rent your home?
  7. In what zip code is your primary residence?
  8. Are you married/divorced/single?
  9. What is your ethnicity/race?
  10. How many children do you have?

In addition to demographics, you may also use psychographics, behavioral, and geographic questions to categorize people. Marketers combine the answers to these questions and create groups of people with shared attributes and preferences. Based on these groups, they will clarify who their target market is and define their buying preferences. 

By using a survey, marketers collect data that is specific to their business goals. Marketers can design a custom survey or use an existing template.

Guided question bank

In addition to surveys, government agencies like the Bureau of Labor Standards provide household, income, education, and health data used for marketing strategy and business goals.

Because of the widespread use of smart devices, granular data is available from apps that collect a wide variety of data, including photos, travel patterns, hospital wait times, and virus contact tracing. Now in use for complex clinical trials or academic studies, these apps capture vast amounts of demographic data at a specific point in time or over several time periods.

Marketers speak to their target audience using messages that appeal to their specific demographic segments. Having a strong understanding of their demographic segments will allow marketers to create key messaging content that speaks to their target audiences and forms the basis of their marketing strategy.

Marketers use these concepts to develop a consistent flow of marketing campaigns, ads, social media posts, packaging, and other messaging that raises customer awareness. Messaging must be consistent across all channels to demonstrate the value their brand provides to their target market.

A consistent brand position will build value for a company. For instance, Amazon, Microsoft, and Spotify are three of the biggest growing brands that provide the value their target markets desire: empathy, agility, and affinity. Microsoft empathizes with customers’ needs, providing them with leading software products. Amazon customers like agility, the ability to quickly adapt to changing times and new products. Spotify customers are incredibly loyal, creating an affinity relationship with Spotify's music service.

Over 95% of new product launches fail. Companies who use demographics to define their target market and create consistent messaging have a greater chance of survival.

US advertisers spend over $250 billion to get our attention. Companies like Amazon, Proctor and Gamble, and Walt Disney (three of the biggest advertisers) want to make sure they advertise to the right people.

For instance, the Walt Disney Company might appear to target children, but they target the entire family, including children, tweens, teens, and adults. “You’re dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway," said Walt Disney.