Beyond Age

Boosting marketing effectiveness through a new understanding of age-based profiling
07 July 2022
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Targeting consumers by age has been a go-to for marketers for as long as targeting itself has been in use. It will always have its place, but it is important that it is leveraged for being the most appropriate means of targeting and not simply as an expedient shortcut. 

Here we explore five highlights from our ‘Beyond Age’ report on the opportunities, pitfalls and most compelling alternatives to age-based targeting.

1. Online media use and the age misconception trap
Assumptions about age when it comes to online platform use often do not evolve as quickly as the age profile of these platforms.

TGI data shows that in the last seven years for every additional British 15-24 year old using the Facebook app weekly there were 6.3 people aged 65+ doing so. Consequently, the 65+ age group has gone from being the smallest age cohort of Facebook app users to the largest.

2. Limitations of age-based proxies
Frequently, the efficiencies of age-based targets can be refined with behaviour-related targeting.

Our TGI Europa data reveals that across France, Germany, Britain and Spain those aged 25-34 are two and a half times more likely than the average adult to say they buy nappies. However, those who claim to have had a new baby are TEN times more likely to do so.

3. The pitfalls of targeting globally by age

Consumer differences between markets can be extreme, even within age bands. 

Our TGI Global Quick View data reveals that, globally, 16-24 year olds are far more likely than older adults to like taking risks. 

However, this masks stark differences within age groups. 16-24 year olds in South Africa are 51% more likely than the average 16-24 year old globally to agree “I like taking risks”, whilst 16-24 year olds in Japan are 37% less likely than the average in this age group to agree. 

Often, age may superficially seem like a good differentiator but closer examination reveals it is not. 

4. Generations: not always what they seem
Targeting by generational groups is commonplace, but poor understanding of their parameters, risks mis-targeting.

British adults in Generation Z are 23% more likely than the average adult to use social media at least once a day. 

However, because there are over twice as many Baby Boomers as Gen Z-ers, a third more Baby Boomers use social media daily than their younger counterparts.

5. Gen X: the most diverse generation
Generation X may seem a fairly unexceptional and homogenous group.

However, TGI reveals Gen X-ers are fairly evenly split across at least five completely different life stages, encompassing older adults without children at home, right through to parents of primary school children.

Consequently, consumer behaviour will be very different, even though they all share a generation.

Age-based targeting can be a simple and effective way of reaching consumer targets, but it will equally always be a blunt tool.

It is important marketers always test whether age is the most appropriate means for targeting, as there will often be far more efficient alternatives. This engenders confidence that they are not only reaching the right audience, but also engaging them in the most effective way.

This is an area in which we are specialists, with the many solutions offered via our TGI consumer data enabling you to understand, reach and engage targets of all types.

Discover more via our report ‘Beyond Age’