‘M’ Stands For More Than Mobile

laurenmoores“Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Lauren Moores, vice president of analytics at Dstillery.

Millennials. Multicultural. Multicultural millennials.

If you are a marketer, chances are these “M” words keep you up at night. It makes sense. These are big demographic groups with big spending potential and lots of loyalty up for grabs.

The millennial generation, born between roughly 1980 and 2000, represents approximately 80 million people. Multicultural, also a broad term, refers to multiple and mixed ethnicities and backgrounds, but can include African-American, Asian, Hispanic and LGBT audiences. The combined millennial and multicultural audiences (MMC) represent nearly 40% of the US population. For marketers, they are the “next-generation consumer,” and generally the major growth vehicle for their brands.

It also makes sense that there is behavioral divergence within the millennial, multicultural and MMC labels. There’s research to support disparities on everything from brand loyalty and trust in user-generated content to media usage.

Take media usage, for example. The 25- to 34-year-old segment slightly edges out the 18- to 24-year-old segment for time spent on mobile apps, at 75 hours per month. And iHeartMedia recently revealed that Hispanic consumers spend more time listening to radio than other multicultural segment. The 18- to 24-year-old millennials turn to radio to escape, iHeartMedia says, whereas the 25- to 34-year-old segment uses radio to expand knowledge with a focus on family and novelty.

What doesn’t make sense is that so many smart marketers continue to rely on these broad labels to define their digital advertising strategies. Looking at the MMC markets singularly by demographics is a mistake. We now have the data access and technology to find the micro-audiences that will be loyalists, brand-vocates and big spenders. Those micro-audiences can be found within demographic segments, as well as spanning standard demographic parameters. And those micro-audiences can be your guide to finding more brand loyalists, by looking at behaviors that cut across age, gender and cultural affinity.

So how does a marketer tap into this audience of varying ages, gender, ethnicities and cultures? For younger brands, finding the audiences within the millennial audience is a matter of wrangling the data. With 85% of millennials using mobile and multicultural usage of mobile devices greater than other population segments, there is plenty of digital and physical data signals available to build audience and insights. A marketer can use different data streams – and, most importantly, mobility data – to gather signals on their brand audience to accurately identify true brand prospects.

For more established brands looking to engage a new audience, using demos and ethnicity as a proxy or seed set for finding the true audience is a start. Those MMCs that identify with the brand as a result of a broader campaign will provide the behavioral data and signal to find the right prospects moving forward.

For all marketers, what is important is applying good science to the data to determine who the unique audience is for their brand, line of business or specific product, rather than a simplistic and grossly inadequate label. In a multichannel world, the ultimate goal is for each brand marketer to ask: “Where should I spend my marketing dollars and what is the impact of my marketing on sales?”

Being a millennial or belonging to a particular cultural heritage are unreliable predictors of purchase for a particular brand. There’s a better way: using the data and science at our disposal to define micro-audiences and establish brand interest.

Follow Lauren Moores (@lolomoo) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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