Demographic data is losing its value as consumers become more unpredictable

Demographic data is losing its value as consumers become more unpredictable Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.

Global pressures have made consumers more uncertain and unpredictable, finds a new survey conducted by Twilio, the customer engagement platform.

As a result, 48% of marketers are now questioning the value of traditional customer segmentation through demographic data. Instead, they are placing renewed importance on real-time personalisation (71%), and seek more budget flexibility in where and what they’re investing in (65%).

The survey of 300 UK marketing decision makers alongside 2,020 UK consumers shows that consumer behaviour has gone through a major shift. Over half (58%) of UK adults say their behaviours and buying choices are more complicated than three years ago. 

Nearly a third (31%) of UK adults report being more indecisive about what they buy compared to three years ago, with a similar amount (30%) agreeing the pandemic has shifted their behaviours and the way they think. It appears shoppers have also become savvier during this period, with two thirds (66%) say they now look harder for better shopping deals.

Predicting the unpredictable

This complexity is echoed by the vast majority of marketers in the survey (85%) who believe that consumer behaviour is more changeable than ever before. They cite the cost-of-living crisis (76%), social media, environmental awareness (both 51%), and the ongoing impact of the global pandemic (48%) as drivers of change over the last three years. 

Given this shift, the old methods of customer segmentation and targeting aren’t meeting their needs with 48% of marketers believing demographic data is losing its value. Marketers are instead increasingly turning to real-time personalisation and first-party data strategies to understand this new buying behaviour, with 71% saying real-time personalisation is more valuable, and 58% believing it will be the most important technology for them to keep pace. 

Real-time personalisation is powered by past customer search, purchasing and shopping data to help provide them with relevant content and options at the moment it’s needed. Typically making use of event-based triggers, it can only happen without a solid foundation of up-to-date customer data from across channels to power it.

Sam Richardson, customer engagement consultant, Twilio, said: “Like the current arguments around outdated economic models, this research has highlighted that it really is time to ditch the old demographic customer segmentation methods and models. People are unpredictable and their shopping journeys and decisions are nonlinear. Marketers and customer service agents need to have the kind of data that allows them to be more fluid in the way they engage with their customers. 

“The only way they can get a deeper understanding of their customers and all their nuances is by focusing on the value inherent in first-party data. You don’t have to base your marketing strategy around outdated categories and guesswork if you are able to personalise based on how people are engaging with your brand both historically and right now. Unifying all this data from across all parts of your business into a singular source of truth will help organisations know just what their customers need at the point they need it.”

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

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