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Demographic Trends and How to Reach Your Media Audience

Demographic Trends Show You Should Target Children and Teens to Build Your Brand

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A photo of a crowd of people in their 60s and 70s

Everyone loves grandparents, but if this is how your audience looks, your media brand may be in trouble.

Photo © Bob Thomas / Getty Images
Demographic trends show the country is aging. Baby boomers are getting older, and better health care keeps people alive longer. But for most media companies, shifting focus toward tomorrow's audience is one of the critical media goals to set. That means targeting children, teens and most importantly, their parents.

Demographic Trends: Why Children Are Important

If you own a newspaper, targeting children doesn't mean putting a story about SpongeBob SquarePants on the front page. Instead, you should use children as a way to reach their parents, who are likely in the key 18-49 age demographic.

News stories about family life, child care and education will raise the interest of parents. Even printing the local schools' lunch menu is a simple way of providing information that parents need. By shifting your demographics toward a younger audience, you'll often find it easier to sell media advertising, because car companies, restaurants and furniture stores also follow demographic trends and want to sell to a younger customer base.

If your newspaper's audience is 55+, you'll have to make some strategic choices in the stories you cover. Maybe the Medicare story no longer goes on the front page. You may find it scary to shift away from the needs of your loyal readers, but you need to think about who'll be reading your paper in 20 years.

Demographic Trends: When Teenagers Should Be Targeted

If you most want to reach people 18-49, realize that today's 13 year old will be part of your target demographic in just five years. Demographic trends show that reaching tomorrow's customers today is vital in building brand loyalty.

A fast-food restaurant chain may excite young teens with crazy desserts or music downloads. While today, they may convince their parents to drive them to that restaurant, tomorrow they'll be driving themselves and spending their own money based on the relationship that was built when they were younger.

Many media companies that aren't automatically geared toward teens write off this group as unimportant until they get jobs and have money to spend. Hopefully, that's how your competitors think.

But consider the brand loyalty you can start building. If you own a Top 40 radio station that faces an onslaught of competition, not just from other stations but from online music, put together a summer concert series at city swimming pools, or an American Idol type of singing competition. Just hand out free T-shirts with your station logo or follow social media trends in how to speak to teens through Facebook or Twitter. You're letting tomorrow's customers touch your brand and showing them that you think they matter.

Demographic Trends: How to Reach Your Audience Through Community Projects

For most local media companies, community outreach strategies are a cornerstone of brand building. Demographic trends should be a guide in choosing which projects to pursue.

Schools are a gold mine of opportunity. You can easily start campaigns to recognize the best teachers or the most outstanding students. If the public schools are struggling in your community, taking the time to spotlight the great work that happens in classrooms will get your media brand noticed.

Remember that children and their parents will never forget the time you put them on TV. Produce news stories that show a lot of faces, either on television or in the newspaper. Each face represents a lasting connection.

A magazine might start a high school internship program, or a radio station could sponsor a Little League baseball team. However you choose to spend your time and your dollars in the community, avoid taking a shotgun approach. Following demographic trends means you need pinpoint accuracy in getting your brand message to the people you want.

In years past, broadcasting meant talking to everybody. Everyone subscribed to the newspaper and listened to the same radio station with the music format they liked best. Those mass-appeal days are over. In order to find success, every media company needs to track demographic trends and be the number-one choice of their target audience.

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