Back in the old days of advertising, all a marketer needed to do was decide whether the company wanted to reach men or women with their advertising message, and then create and place an appropriate ad on the right TV or radio station and in a certain section of the local newspaper. Because so few marketing mediums existed, advertising was easy, at least by today's standards.
These days, marketing is a bit more complex. New technologies and increased options for how people spend their leisure time make reaching your target market a bit harder. On top of that, you need to do more than simply decide whether you want to reach men or women. You also need to delve deep into the different generations to make your message relevant, and you need to place your message in the correct place for your ideal target customer to see it.
The fact is that today's media is getting more fragmented. While you used to be able to reach the majority of the population via television, today television reaches a small percentage of the population. Things like the Internet, online gaming, DVDs, iPods, Xboxs, and more compete for people's attention. That means these mediums are competing for your advertising dollars as well.
For the purposes of this article, we'll explore how to reach the male demographic. Why focus on men? Because eye-opening research on how men spend their leisure time was recently released by Advertising Age magazine. In it, columnist Mike Vorhaus asked consumers of both genders and of all ages to identify from a list of activities their favorite leisure activity. What he found in the male category impacts all advertisers who have a product that targets men.
Three Distinct Generations
When it comes to favorite pastimes of men, three distinct generations emerge: 12-24 year olds, 25-44 year olds, and 45-64 year olds. Each group prefers to spend their leisure time differently, which means marketers need to tailor not only their message, but also their message placement, if they want to attract consumers in more than one age group.
- 12-24 Year Olds: This group ranks playing games on consoles such as PlayStation 2 and Xbox as their number one leisure activity (34%), followed by playing sports (14%), and using the Internet (13%). Listening to music, watching television, and reading magazines (some of the top advertising mediums used by many marketers) only ranked in at 7%, 6%, and 1% respectively. So if you're an advertiser trying to reach this demographic, you need to consider supplementing your television, radio, and print ads with new advertising vehicles, such as billboards in video games, as well as with online advertising. Even though this group doesn't read traditional print media very much, they do read articles and view ads online.
- 25-44 Year Olds: This group ranks using the Internet as their number one leisure activity (18%), followed by watching television (16%), playing games on consoles such as PlayStation 2 and Xbox (12%), and listening to music (10%). While this group does show some stronger ties to traditional mediums, newer technologies like the Internet, video games, and iPods still have a heavy draw on this demographic. So if you're trying to reach men in this market, you really need to diversify your advertising dollars and exposure. This group is nothing like their fathers or grandfathers-they are up-to-date on the new gizmos and gadgets... and they like them.
- 45-64 Year Olds: This group ranks watching television as their number one leisure activity (23%), followed by using the Internet (20%), and listening to music (6%). Perhaps most surprising is that this older group of men is quickly becoming tech-savvy and using new technologies in areas outside of work. Even in this demographic, things like playing sports and playing video games on consoles still had a ranking of 5% and 4% respectively. So if you're trying to reach a more mature market, don't simply assume television ads are the way to go. People in this demographic are online, playing sports, and gaming with the best of them. They're re-writing the rules of what it means to be "mature."
What It All Means
The bottom line is that men like multimedia, no matter what their age. And as an advertiser, you can't rely on just one medium to reach men. Additionally, the media consumption patterns differ by age group. Understanding that will allow you to more effectively reach men in various demographic groups.
For example, let's suppose you're advertising a new car (something all men in all age groups can appreciate). In the past, a few ads on TV and in magazines or newspapers would do the trick to effectively spread the word about a new car model. Before long most men in the target audience would know about the car and be talking about it. Today you have to take a more complex approach. In addition to your TV and print ads, you'd have to have a web presence with online ads and articles pointing to your web site. On the web site you might have a marketing video of the car model and in-depth statistics about the new vehicle. You would also need to seriously consider utilizing video-on-demand marketing via cable or satellite TV networks to more effectively sell your car. This way men could view all the details about the new car when it's convenient for them or right after they see a short TV ad. Finally, you might run a billboard ad in various video games that offer advertising, and if you have a really big advertising budget, your car could also be the game character's transportation method of choice.
If this sounds like a fragmented approach to marketing, it is and that's the point. In order to reach men you have to spread your advertising dollars appropriately and look at marketing in a whole new way. Ultimately, if you don't understand the different generations and market to them accordingly, you could be wasting both your time and money. So take heed of this advertising advice. Doing so could enable you to reach more male prospects, close more sales, and increase your company's overall profits.
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