The Trouble with Labels

October 26, 2023

Brands commonly see the market in terms of the audience they want to captivate. Brands may try to be trendy for younger markets, wholesome for family shoppers, and so on. However, an audience label is an over-generalization that can draw a brand into a trap.

For example … generational mis-generalization
Marketing is often targeted by demographics such as age. Applying broad labels to a generation — such as Gen X, Millennials, or Gen Z — assumes that all people of a certain age share values, beliefs and behaviors. For example, it’s been generalized that younger generations care more about climate change than previous cohorts. However, the numbers show that concern about climate change has become even across the board in recent years, and that older generations are just as likely to take an active stance. Millennials have also been (mis)labeled as immature — a generalization that does not account for the fact that maturity markers like college degrees, wealth accumulation, and home ownership are much more difficult and costly to achieve than they were for previous generations. Or that the leading edge of those Millennials are now entering their 40s and catching eye rolls from their Gen Z kids.

Marketing Research Overcomes the Flaws of Labeling
The takeaway here is that while labels make for a catchy PowerPoint presentation, they are no substitute for a strategy based on deeper research. Conduct surveys, observe how people shop, study your current customer base, and engage your agency to help you gain actionable insights. Know for sure what motivates your audience as well as the factors that draw them to your brand. Only with detailed and comprehensive market research can you truly get to know and understand your customers and those you seek to win over. You can’t afford to guess.