Tuesday, October 04, 2011

2010 Census - The End of 25-54?

A lot of the data from the 2010 U.S. Census is out and there are some surprises when you step back and look at the big demographic picture of the country.   I have built a comparison spread sheet of the 5 year demos from 2010 (on the left) and 2000 (on the right).  Also broken out are 18 year breakouts that roughly correspond to the 'generations' (Y - X - Boomer-Etc).  You can see that we really have 3 nearly equal segments here.  The under 19s are around 27%, the 20-39s are also close to 27% and the 40-59s are just over 27%.  The under 60 population is nearly equally split.

The Generations are roughly broken out below.  Since we are dealing with 5 year splits on the data some of the definitions fall in the middle and were 'rounded' from the usually defined eras for each generation.

Still the picture is pretty clear here.  The Younger Generation X, Y and the new under 19s that really have yet to be defined are taking up nearly 69% of the pie here.  While the boomers are still strong their percentage is shrinking.  You can see the boomer ages in the boxes for both 2000 and 2010.

So where will marketers target their campaigns and where should we be aiming our demo targets?  It's an interesting question.  The importance of 25-54s started in the 80s.  In 1980 the oldest boomers where 32 and the youngest were 18.  By the end of the decade they were all in their 30s and driving the 25-54 demo. That's why it became 'the standard' for targeting in advertising.  Well we've all had a few too many birthdays over the years and now that boomer demo is between 62 and 48 years old.

On top of that we can see a the X and Y generations at roughly the same percentages of the population.

It still seems like winning 25-54 is still the gold standard - and it still represents 41% of the total population in 2010 vs. 39% in 2000.  It's still a very important demo, but today it is NOT defined by one generation.  There are Gen Y, the Mellennials with there digital world, Gen X with a strong 80s orientation and the Boomers with their 70s era history all in the same demo.  Targeting something that wide in today's highly fragmented world is starting to look like no strategy at all.  We'll have to see what the marketing minds (today's Mad Men) cook up here.  But, we would be wise to take a closer look as we target and lay our programming strategies with the realities of the population.

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