You must remember Charlie Brown's saying, "I love mankind. It's people I can't stand."
I love statistics, it's analysis I can't stand.
It drives me nuts that people derive their own conclusions that basically just prove their own point when looking at data. And when the "data" isn't that great to begin with, the conclusions just get wackier.
What got me going this time is a Forrester report called The Connected Agency. Looks like it was released in February. I exaggerate when I say it involves data. Mostly it's about observing the agency zeitgeist and piling on the "what this might mean" conclusions. It looks like they plan to market this "intelligence" to the big agencies they're trying to throw the fear of God into.
Here's one takeaway from this report that makes no sense to me.
Rethink consumer segmentation. Traditional segmentation models work with demographic approximations of consumer understanding, similar to the blunt target audiences of the mass media. But a 41-year-old woman may have little in common with a 25-year-old, even if they both watch Desperate Housewives or American Idol. In reality, consumers cut across multiple lifestyle, life-cycle, and behavioral segments. Today’s generations have shortened, requiring marketers to reformulate audience strategies. For example, Nike now plans with age gaps of as little as four years; Procter & Gamble has moved from decades to a handful of years.
I agree that traditional agencies don't have a grip on segmentation -- but, judging from this paragraph, neither does Forrester.
For one thing, marketers -- as we've said many, many times in this blog -- shouldn't be segmenting on "demographic approximations." To me, it's much more interesting that a 41-year-old and a 25-year-old may something in common-- something that has relevance to me as a marketer. So what if their lifestyles differ? If I sell kitty litter and they both have cats, how old they are makes no difference. If they're both fashionistas and I sell shoes, there may be a difference in how much one is willing to spend on accessories -- but I'm not ready to hazard a guess which woman is which until I see a previous buying pattern, not an age.
And how do they justify the statement "today's generations have shortened." Really?? It seems to me a lot of 40-year-olds have more in common with their teenagers than parents and kids back in the 1970s or earlier. My guess? Procter & Gamble and Nike have better data now, so they can identify ages with more accuracy. They haven't provided the data to back this conclusion, so my conclusions have as much weight as theirs . . . until they show me the difference those shortened generations really make on their marketing (or on their products).