The advent of social media marketing and PR marks the beginning of the end for the use of demographics in targeting consumers.
The PR agency that I work for was recently appointed to conduct an on-line PR campaign for a major brand in the DIY sector. The target online media list was rigorously profiled and we identified people who might readily be interested in the product. We were then asked to check whether the demographics of the target blogs, forums and sites was in line with the target market for the product. Demographic data is now available from sites like Alexa.com. So we did it.
I wonder however what the value of this really is. Demographics are about getting closer to your target audience but it is an imprecise science. The holy grail in marketing is the aquisition of ethnographic data. Ethnographics are holistic covering the places where people live, what they do for a living, what they eat and drink, their customs, language and culture. In social networks we can build an accurate ethnographically detailed picture of our target audience based on what they do and what interests and excites them. Whatever part of the social spectrum they might come from the fact is that they have shown an interest in a relevant area. That’s an insight more powerful than any generalisation based on class, sex, race or place.