eBay’s Phuong Nguyen: Marketers are still targeting like it’s the 1950s

Marketing briefs still focus on engaging consumer segments, whether it’s “baby boomers,” the coveted millennial group or the consumers of the future, Gen Z. But demographic targeting doesn’t necessarily provide return on investment. Recently McDonald’s announced that it would stop focusing its marketing efforts on simply sweeping talk to millennials, but this remains an exception and not the rule across the industry.

Phuong Nguyen eBay

Despite the enormous amount of customer insights that marketers now have at their fingertips, far too many campaigns still group audiences by out-dated demographics like age and gender.

Consumers are people not ages

With mantras like forty is the new thirty and sixty is the new forty, age groups are becoming harder to define from a marketing perspective. Take the millennial label as an example, the definition spans those aged 18-34 from impoverished students to home owning parents. But that’s when we’re looking at the wide spectrum from 18 – 34 but even if you narrow the pool to professionals of the same age, living in the same post-code, their interests and lifestyle have far more influence on their shopping basket. So brands need to target based on these insights, not old fashion views of age groups.

Seek out the individuals

In today’s data economy, marketers can cater to the individual by personalising campaigns. Consumers respond to inspiring shopping experiences that are relevant to them.

Marketers that dig deeper into insight are able to de-bust some of the myths of old-school audience segmentation. By overlaying insight some extraordinary shopping groups can be identified. For example, on eBay.co.uk, we found that there was a considerable percentage of male baking enthusiasts who were also motorcycle enthusiasts. Without a significant level of data insight, marketers are missing out on these peripheral shopping groups that they should be taking advantage of.

Harness real-time opportunities

Marketers who draw on a range of insights and put a consumer’s browsing and buying habits into “context” will be able to tailor their messages according to factors such as the time of day, how close they are to pay day and what influence weather plays on their shopping behaviour. For example, when the sun is out, a consumer might be very likely to buy fitness items and then shift to browsing for party items as they bring their weekend fun indoors. Every shopper profile is different and sweeping generalisations won’t create competitive advantage. Nimble brands and agencies that understand and react to shopping patterns will gain as consumer segmentations continue to evolve.

We’ve come along way from Mad Men style approach that siloed consumers. It’s not the 1950’s, where marketers targeted women on the assumption that they all aspired to be or were already housewives. By leaving the “one-size fits all” strategy of more traditional marketing efforts, brands won’t alienate profitable consumer groups.

Phuong Nguyen is eBay’s Director of advertising UK


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