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Internet Marketing And The Relative Unimportance Of Demographic

Feb 7, 2008
Are target demographics important in online business?

In brick and mortar stores there is often an incredible push to remain relevant to a specific age group and market the business to that demographic. This has a bearing on the products offered, the décor of the store, the type of bags they place your purchase in and certainly in advertising and event sponsorships.

By association does that mean the same is true regarding online business? Should online business cater to a specific generation? If not, why not?

Online business may indeed have a target demographic. They may know who the primary consumers of their product will be. However, that may not mean that they actively seek advertising opportunities that may appeal only to that demographic.

In online advertising, particular Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, the goal is to connect with keywords and not demographics. In essence if an individual of any age is looking for Italian gloves and your site is dedicated to the sale of these gloves then you may find individuals of all ages finding an advertising path to your cyber store portal if this is the product they are looking for.

Many sites are intentionally keeping a distance from a generation specific look in an effort to make all consumers feel more at home with their site. The website may use language that may appeal to a specific age range, but they will even deal with this issue in moderation so the customer does not feel as if the product is only for someone of a different age group.

One of the primary differences in online business verses a brick and mortar counterpart is that the online store can afford to be much more niche oriented. If they wish to specialize only in model railroad merchandise they will likely find individuals of all ages dropping by the website to see what items may be available. This could include a grandpa who needs replacement parts for a train set he's had for decades or a beginner looking for a first engine.

You see the very specific nature of many websites moves it away from the need to target a specific demographic.

Let me be clear, I think most online businesses should know who their primary target will be, but they don't need to push that age group more than any other in their online environment.

The differences between online and traditional marketing are many, but there are some similarities as well. The growth of online business is a testament to the ability of scores of entrepreneurs to mesh the best in traditional marketing with the new skills in online marketing.

The combination of skills can be helpful as long as you approach online marketing as requiring something unique. It can very easy to assume that 'the ways it's always been done' is going to work online. The problem is the environment is different and the dynamics are global in scope and niche in presentation.

Learning the skills of online marketing will be more helpful to you than seeking to target a specific demographic online. Learning the distinctives in online marketing will improve the possibility of business success.
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