Age, Advertising and the Afghan Whigs

Brand Strategy, | by


The importance of research as your audience evolves

We have a dinnertime understanding at the Miller house — my wife cooks and I clean up. Last night, I was washing dishes as the music of the Afghan Whigs filled my kitchen. The album I pulled up on Spotify, 1965, was one I hadn’t heard in awhile. As I was scrubbing away (thinking how I wouldn’t need to be cleaning at all if we went out to dinner) I started to reminisce about the first time I heard this album when it came out in 1998.

My thoughts then turned to my fellow MarketSpacers — specifically those who are younger than I am. Would they have heard this great record like I did nearly twenty years ago? How old were they twenty years ago? Wait a minute. Holy crap, am I the “old guy” at the office?

At this point, I turned off the water and I really start thinking. I may have a year or two (or eleven or twelve) on some of my fellow creatives, but at the end of the day, we’re all subject to one universal marketing truth: you are going to get older, but your audience never will.

We recently started researching the teen demographic. After all, there are no teens working in the office, and speaking personally – at 38 years old – I’m hardly an expert on teen marketing. What we’ve discovered in these initial stages has proven a few things to me.

Since I use some of the social apps that teen use, I’m totally wicked awesome! (Kids still say that, right? No? Oh well, maybe I’m not as cool as I thought.) I also saw my universal truth come to life. While our younger creatives already knew most of what we learned, they still discovered a few new things about teenagers today.

You see – time is a funny thing. It makes individual people get older, but it shape shifts around demographics. The consistent evolution of technology requires a revolving door of research to truly understand any audience. Whether we need to become experts on engineers, millennials, new dads, or in this case the habits of Gen Y, staying on top of trends allows us – and our clients – to stay relevant and move the needle.

The idea of research isn’t revolutionary, but as our audiences continue to evolve, it’s a necessity. Even when you feel like you know your target inside and out, remember that your audience is constantly reinventing itself. Unless you are the audience, you’ll always need to find ways to stay relevant. And that, my friends, is one rad concept.

Wait, what? “Rad” isn’t a thing anymore? Well, you get the idea…

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