As marketers, we often talk about staying relevant and adapting to an ever-changing digital landscape. It’s our job to know what’s happening in the world, what’s trending and how we can use this to our advantage. We have an array of tools at our disposal, which help us understand relevant movements and popular topics – but before we can gain insight from trending hashtags and the latest dance crazes, we need to explore the changing behaviours of our consumers, at  a fundamental level.

A lot of time and effort goes into defining and understanding audience demographics, with the common misconception that these definitions remain relevant, long after they do – or that basic commonalities are enough to inform a useful strategy.

In the famous words of Brian Solis “[social media…]  is about sociology and psychology more than technology” words that ring true for various touch-points. Take Baby Boomers, for example. They form part of one of the wealthiest generations in existence but have long been overlooked by marketers and strategists as an aging, technologically unsavvy demographic. However, we know that Baby Boomers are changing  and even share some commonalities with the audiences that get the most limelight – millennials and Gen-Zs.

People, like their environments, are not static and once we begin to look beyond the labels and treat these as a starting point, rather than the be all and end all of our understanding, we can gain even more valuable insight and strategise accordingly. So, how does one stay on top of new, general developments within a target audience?

Spot the trends and do something about it

  • Define. Start at the very beginning by using media monitoring tools, content, focus groups and/or survey formats to get to know your audience from the source. Set to define them thoroughly beyond demographics into psychographics etc. and formulate your strategy, targeting the most prevalent behaviours and opinions. What persuades them? What is important to them? How do they interact with your content or digital content in general? What do they believe in? What do they love about the “buying” process?
  • Reevaluate. Most companies get the first part right (to some extent) but fail to reevaluate their strategies in line with changing behaviours. Defining an audience is a complex and ongoing process. In order to yield the best results from your efforts, you’ll need to constantly monitor the way they behave online. What  changes are you seeing? How do they engage with current affairs in comparison to brand content? Are there changes in buying behaviour or responses?
  • Adapt. With this understanding you can make adaptation a regular part of your marketing strategy. For example, if you note that users show growing interest in a topic, you can adapt your content marketing by including relevant hashtags or enlisting related influencers. If you see that buying behaviour is leaning more towards online shopping than making purchases in brick-and-mortar store, you can adapt your resource allocation to improve  your store’s user experience and drive more awareness  to it.
  • Measure. By measuring the changes you identify, you can begin to note trends, as opposed to short-term faddish behavioural changes. This allows you to apply the data in the long term and forecast work that will work, instead of pouring time and effort into a strategy that might not be relevant in 5 months or a year.
  • Repeat. Ongoing is the key takeaway here.

Understanding trends in the behaviour of your audiences is crucial to informing your marketing strategies and campaigns, but equally valuable, is insight into the environment these users operate in. While each group can be defined, specifically, there are some universal trends that  span beyond  the confines of “millennial” or “Latchkey Kid”.

Play to current trends in user behaviour

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest trends in user behaviour and how this affects us as marketers and brand owners.

Internet usage and accessibility. We’ve seen staggering growth in internet usage since 2017, with a massive spike from  about 3.6 to 3.8 billion over the course of a year (Code Conference, 2019). Since then, we’ve seen a further increase to approximately 4.4 billion. In an increasingly technological world, and with the advancement of entry-level smartphones, more people have access to the world wide web than anyone formally predicted.

2018 saw a slight decline in growth, given the decreasing numbers of potential new users, and as access broadened. But still, as marketers, this should encourage us to adopt a mobile-first approach (if you haven’t already) and to consider more digital and integrated campaigns – that bring offline, online.

eCommerce. According to recent research by Statista, ecommerce businesses should “anticipate a 265% growth rate” in 2021, as trends show a rapid inline in ecommerce adoption. This is a global statistic but also true if we analyse the data closer to home. In the United Kingdom, “96% of 16-24 year-olds, 94% of 25-34 year-olds, and 95% of 35-44 year-olds log on daily” with 45-55 year old’s coming in at a 90% daily login rate and the 55+ generation exceeding 70%.

Basically, UK users are online every day, and helping to lead the way in building ecommerce markets, at a global level. Plus, if they aren’t buying – they are still shopping,  by browsing and drawing inspiration for what they’ll purchase in a brick and mortar store. This is according to a recent study by Google, in conjunction with Bain & Company, detailed on Think with Google.  So with this in mind, is your business meeting the growing demand for online shopping and accessibility?

Interacting with web and voice. It’s no secret that users are using voice search and voice commands more – but how much more? According to Heather Pemberton Levy, usage forecasting predicts that “30% of web browsing will be screenless by 2020”. We’re seeing a steady trend in adoption as brands like Estee Lauder bring voice search strategies into their campaigns and Alexa and Siri become become household names and “friends” with the family. Have you considered tapping into this opportunity to add convenience to the lives of your consumers?

Want  more? Find out how  you can achieve success in the current media landscape.