Are you focusing heavily on age-based segments? The availability of these factors along with the growing focus on millennials and aging baby boomers makes this an interesting segment.

While age remains a good starting point, is it still relevant as your only key factor? Research is showing that effective marketing does away with the stereotypes and refreshes consumer segments to be more organic and emergent.

In this Quirk’s article from the August 2015 issue, together with Unilever we explore a framework for the questions to ask to develop better segmentation.

An inside-out approach to messaging, targeting and segmentation

“Throughout the history of marketing, brands have loved to segment consumers. Marketers slice slivers of data and information into painfully thin generalizations that are used to define attitudes and behaviors.

The principles behind segmentation were established long before the digital age and easy access to big data. Besides being a counterproductive generalization of groups of individuals, marketers often start and stick with demographic segmentation, based on traits like age, which oversimplifies the pursuit of actually understanding consumers better.

The growing focus on millennials and aging baby boomers has made marketers focus heavily on age-based segments for channeling their marketing and communications efforts. The easy availability of such factors makes such demographic variables more prominent in consumer segmentation and targeting compared to psychographic variables such as people’s interests, attitudes, opinions and lifestyles.

For example, traditional approaches to defining the baby boomers generation, generation X or millennials have relied on both demographic variables (classifying individuals based on birth years) and psychographic variables (such as beliefs, attitudes, values and behaviors).

While starting with age as a segmenting criterion for crafting your message is good heuristic, it’s well worth asking the question: Is it still relevant? Effective marketing needs to account for distinct consumer groups and the differentiated needs they have. More and more research shows that imposing age or any such rigid dimension can be very limiting…”

Read the rest of the article on Quirk’