The longer I work in marketing, the less comfortable I am with “eighteen to thirty-five” as a demographic. I wouldn’t want to spend 2 minutes in an elevator with most 20-year-olds, and I have to spend another 5 years in the same demo as them? There’s nothing I have in common with them aside from a lack of kids (though, as my friend Jason pointed out, people of any age without kids have more in common than people of the same age if one of them has a child, and try booking a weekend on the beach if you don’t believe me).
Of course, the beauty of Google knowing everything is that marketers no longer have to rely on broad segments dreamed up by Madison Avenue. Soccer moms, job-hopping millennials, gadget junkies, green fanatics: you no longer need to buy a bucket before you go fishing. That’s one of Internet Inc’s chief strengths: defining segments based on the behavior of your existing customers, rather than deciding “your car appeals to do-it-yourself dads” and spending $2MM of your money to find out we were wrong. So if marketing gets smarter – something I’m trying to prod it to do every day, guys, really – I won’t be in this eighteen-to-thirty-five bucket for long.
This came up, oddly, as part of my rediscovery of the golden age of hip-hop, that magical period between 1986 and 1994 when everyone sampled Motown, conscious styles dominated and lyrical flow was at its peak. As a white kid from the suburbs I was conscious of almost none of it. But that spark lay in the back of my mind until it started burning. I’ve been using Spotify to tear through the tracks I should have listened to back in the day. Tribe Called Quest. Gang Starr. Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth.
This was not the soundtrack to my teenage years. But it could have been. The Main Ingredient dropped in ’94, and at the tender age of 13 I was susceptible to fresh cuts and jams. But someone who is 18 today would have been neonatal back then. If “Carmel City” had any impact on their lives, it would have been purely subconscious. They wouldn’t relate to it in the same way I would have. That, in part, is why the eighteen-to-thirty-five demo doesn’t work.
Also, do you have any idea how jarring it is to be kicking it to The Main Ingredient and be interrupted by a Trace Adkins ad, Spotify? Marketing needs to get its act together.